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.
I came to a conclusion after a series of events reminded me that spring is really close.
Distylium Vintage Jade is an exciting new plant that brings pizazz to the traditional role of foundation planting.
Individuals interested in floral design can attend a live demonstration to learn about new arrangement techniques using Mississippi products March 8.
Jim DelPrince, horticulture specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, will show attendees how to use materials from their landscapes to create arrangements in Mississippi-made pottery.
Last week, I focused on the 2018 Mississippi Medallion Winner fancy leaf kale. This week, let’s look at a second 2018 winner: lemongrass.
Garden catalogs start piling up by the front door at this time of year, and our two recent cold spells gave me time to look at them. I’ve had the best time flipping through these catalogs and dreaming about all the new plants I’m going to grow this year.