Cold slows start of gardening

Published 1:15 am Sunday, March 7, 2010

Plenty of new things are happening at the extension service and in the garden.

Jason Jones is now helping head up our 4-H program and we have lots of new stuff planned in the month of March. Also, it is about time to start seeing some new things growing but mother nature is slowing everyone’s spring planting down.

Q: What’s new in 4-H?

A: The 4-H youth program is one of the Extension Service educational programs, in which youth have the chance to acquire knowledge, develop life skills, and form attitudes that will help them become productive members of their community and society as well.

Adams County 4-H has several great events planned for the month of March. Adams County 4-H Junior Leadership program will host a flag football tournament at 2 p.m. today at Cathedral School then will meet at 6 p.m. on March 11 at the Adams County Extension Office for their monthly meeting.

Adams County’s 4-H Shooting Sports program is conducting a beginner’s level training from 9 a.m. until noon on March 13, at the Adams County Sheriff range. The disciplines offered will be shotgun, rifle, archery and pistol. Also there will be an Adams County 4-H Horse Camp conducted from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on March 15, at Wayne Johnson’s Arena in Natchez. The horse camp training will consist of horsemanship, improving riding skills and much more!

If you are interested in joining 4-H, as member or volunteer; registering for any 4-H event, or for more information on 4-H, contact our office at 601-445-8201.

Q: When can I begin planting for the spring?

A: Soil temperatures have not warmed much above 50 degrees anywhere in the state. The intermittent sunshine between storm fronts has not been enough to get our wet soils warm enough to providing ideal conditions for root growth. Even the dreaded winter weeds are behind schedule. The bright yellow buttercup flowers are often apparent by now.

Cold soils are frustrating to the “first tomato on the block” enthusiasts. You can go ahead and plant in a few weeks if you provide some sort of heat capture mechanism.

It can be as simple as cutting the bottom from a gallon milk jug and putting it over the tomato plant each evening and removing it each morning when the sun shines or wrapping the tomato cage with clear plastic kitchen wrap or as complicated as building a miniature hoop house over the row.

Clear plastic mulch over the soil will also warm soil by several degrees; black plastic mulch requires a smooth seed bed and intimate contact to warm soil. An easier way to hasten tomato growth is to plant in a five gallon or larger container and move the container to warm places like the garage at night and into direct sunshine during the day.

David Carter is the director of the Adams County Extension Service. He can be reached at 601-445-8201.