Information Possibly Outdated
The information presented on this page was originally released on April 23, 1999. It may not be outdated, but please search our site for more current information. If you plan to quote or reference this information in a publication, please check with the Extension specialist or author before proceeding.
Full Speed Ahead For 1999 Gardens
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Most vegetable gardeners have their crops planted and growing fast with hopes that Mother Nature will be kind.
Dr. David Nagel, horticulturist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said winter rains delayed some garden planting, much like last year's weather.
"We're hoping we won't see a repeat of the drastic temperature change from mild weather to hot, dry conditions in 1998," Nagel said. "Last year's spring garden did OK, but anything we tried to carry past June did not fair very well without irrigation."
Nagel said gardeners should carefully monitor rainfall on their crops and irrigate when they go a week without rains, even in relatively mild weather.
Minimal damage was reported from the recent cold snap, and weather has been ideal for the early planted crops of cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, greens, spinach and English peas. Other crops including Irish potatoes, summer squash and sweet corn are off to a good start.
Nagel said commercial vegetable growers typically plant earlier than home gardeners.
"Unless you are a commercial grower, planting a garden is something you do for better quality not to save or make money," Nagel said.
Penal farms are among the state's largest producers of garden vegetables. While the largest farm is at Parchman, others are also located at prisons in Hinds and Greene counties.
Mark Gillie, Extension agricultural agent in Greene County, said the South Mississippi Correctional Institute was able to use transplants from their greenhouses.
"They have a huge vegetable crop and should be very productive this year," Gillie said. "Most of the county's gardeners anticipated some cold snaps in April. Now their gardens are beginning to show some drought stress if supplemental water has not been provided."
The current gardening trends cover two extremes: something old and something new.
"Gardeners fall into one of those extremes or somewhere in between. Nostalgic gardeners like to plant with their grandparents planted, both the crops and crop varieties. Others like to try the new varieties that have recently become available, like nontraditional colors or sizes," Nagel said.
Gardeners of the '90s have been better at soil testing before planting.
"Soil testing is a money saving practice as well as a good idea for optimal growth," Nagel said.