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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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News

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Filed Under: Flower Gardens August 15, 2022

As the time nears for summer to turn to fall and temperatures drop, I get excited thinking about the changes this will bring to the landscape. Depending on where you garden in Mississippi, September, October and November can be filled with some of the brightest colors of the year.

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Filed Under: Flower Gardens August 8, 2022

After last week’s discussion of growing sunflowers in the fall season, I was inspired to consider what is involved in growing yellow flowers all year in most Mississippi gardens and landscapes. Obviously, different plants need to be selected for the different seasons, so I’ve put together a list of yellow flowers that you can enjoy through the year.

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Filed Under: Flower Gardens August 2, 2022

I think sunflowers fall into the category of sunny, summer royalty. One of the most striking sunflower sights I have ever seen was while driving through North and South Dakota on the way to Sturgis and Bike Week. There were miles and miles -- acres and acres -- of yellow sunflowers blooming for as far as the eye could see.

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Filed Under: Flower Gardens, Vegetable Gardens July 25, 2022

Simply walking out the front door each day, we’re reminded that it is a blistering hot summer season. But believe it or not, now is the time to start planning and getting ready for the fall vegetable garden. We’re only 36 days from the meteorological start of the fall gardening season.

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Filed Under: Flower Gardens July 18, 2022

As the host of Southern Gardening, I promote primarily ornamental landscape and garden plants through newspaper articles, TV segments and social media posts. So I find it interesting that most of the questions I receive revolve around the vegetable garden.

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