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Soil Preparation

Soil preparation is the most crucial step in success with annuals. Roots of annuals have to penetrate soils quickly, anchor plants, and absorb water and nutrients in one season, often under adverse conditions. Most Mississippi soils can be improved with cultivation and the addition of other ingredients.

Cultivating wet soils may cause lumping and shallow "pans," which resist air, water, and root penetration. Soil that is ready for cultivation holds its shape when squeezed, but crumbles easily. Power tillers are useful for preparing large areas, but may create a compacted zone in the soil directly under the tilled area. Use a digging fork to help avoid soil compaction.

The first step in preparing a bed for annual plants is to remove any unwanted plants with a hoe and rake or with a nonselective contact herbicide. After weeds have been removed or killed, dig the soil a shovel's depth; deeper soil preparation is normally not necessary. To prevent resprouting, remove grass and weed roots while turning the soil. Break clods and lumps into smaller pieces.

Add 3 to 4 inches of organic material, such as composted leaf and yard litter, pine bark, peat moss, or composted manure. Then add an inch or two of sharp sand if the soil is heavy. Also, if the soil test indicates a need for lime or fertilizer supplements, spread them at the recommended rate over the top at this time. Mix amendments together, blending the organic matter, sand, and fertilizers. Rake the prepared bed smooth when finished.

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Close-up of a portion of a clear bottle filled with bright blue liquid that is water-soluble fertilizer dissolved in water, against a blurred dark green background.
Filed Under: Flower Gardens, Vegetable Gardens March 22, 2019

Now is the time to fertilize some landscape plants, but there are several different kinds of fertilizers available. MSU Extension horticulture specialist Gary Bachman helps you understand what’s in fertilizer and the different types available.

Dr. Gary Bachman
Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Flower Gardens March 20, 2019

BILOXI, Miss. -- Southern Gardening host and columnist Gary Bachman earned a 2019 Great American Gardener Award from the American Horticultural Society.

Bachman is a horticulturist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service working from the Coastal Research and Extension Center in Biloxi. He received the American  Horticultural Society’s B.Y. Morrison Communications Award, which recognizes effective and inspirational communication through print, radio, television or online media with the goal of advancing public interest and participation in horticulture.

A mostly red tomato is shaped almost like the letter “U.”
Filed Under: Flower Gardens, Vegetable Gardens March 18, 2019

Many folks have been waiting for this moment: the day it’s warm enough and past the main threat of frost to become tomato planting time.

Close up of a pink rose bloom.
Filed Under: Flower Gardens March 15, 2019

If you’re thinking of planting roses, spring is one of the best times. MSU Extension/From Extension Publication 2835 “Roses in Mississippi” 

Pea-sized redbud flowers hang from thin tree branches.
Filed Under: Flower Gardens March 11, 2019

What a crazy late winter and early spring we’ve had so far this year: warm, cold and repeat.

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