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Quality Tops Reasons For Homegrown Crops
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Dripping wet with perspiration, battling biting insects and reaching through itchy plants: Most gardeners don't endure these conditions for money; they do it for love.
Dr. David Nagel, extension horticulturist at Mississippi State University, said the priority for most gardeners is quality, not saving or making money. This love of quality, fresh produce inspires many Mississippians to the labor-intensive task of growing their own fruits and vegetables or at least seeking out a farmer's market.
"You can get a much higher quality product out of the garden than from the store because it is picked fresh. Ripened produce doesn't ship," Nagel said.
"There are some garden crops you can make money growing, such as tomatoes, squash and eggplant," Nagel said. "There are other crops you never make money on, that are cheaper to get at the grocery. Not-for-profit crops include peas, beans and corn."
Nagel said the feasibility of growing herbs depends on the amount gardeners will use them -- the more herbs are used, the more economical growing them will be.
As Mississippi gardeners head into the summer heat, most are wishing for some rain to boost their crops along.
"We had good soil moisture until recent weeks when winds and hot days arrived," said Covington County agent Fred Baker. "Now we need a good soaking rain to prepare most crops for harvest in the first couple weeks of June. You always want crops ready before July Fourth."
Baker said corn leaves are beginning to shrivel and will need irrigation if rains don't arrive soon. The drying conditions have reduced disease problems on most crops.
Tomato gardeners should watch for early signs of disease and plan to spray fungicides if necessary, especially if they are not growing disease-resistant varieties.
For more information on gardening concerns, contact your local county extension agent.