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franklin county times

Radio program offers yard and garden information

By By Steve Strong / 4-H county agent
June 12, 2002
Mississippi is blessed to have one of the best gardening radio shows anywhere in the country. The "Yards and Gardens" program is a live call-in show broadcast statewide each Saturday morning by the Mississippi Network.
The Meridian area is fortunate to have a local station that carries the program not to mention having a very fine newspaper like The Meridian Star to run this humble column.
I am again honored to guest-host the show this Saturday, 8 a.m.-10 a.m., on WMOX-AM 1010. For the gardeners who can't ever reach me Monday through Friday at the office at 482-9764, and the readers who haven't seen the answers they're seeking in this weekly article, now's your chance.
Garden guru Felder Rushing would normally be hosting the morning program he's made famous, but I'm happy to help out a fellow horticulture agent anytime, and get a chance to talk with gardeners from all over Mississippi about how they make things grow.
The neat thing about the show is that anyone can call from anywhere (888) 808-8637, and the call is toll-free.
Gardeners from Hernando to Hot Coffee can call in about problems on plants they grow in their own gardens, and learn from other callers about growing stuff they've never heard of before. From soil to seeds to leaves to fruit to flowers, and fertilizers to pests to weeds to weather, all garden topics are fair game.
Plant lovers enjoy keeping up with "goings-on" in their area, like Master Gardener plant swaps and sales, Farmers Market operations and special events like the Fall Garden Fest in Crystal Springs each October. Mostly, folks just seem to like hearing homespun advice that comes as close as possible to having a garden expert right in your own backyard.
Of course, you get the same helpful personal service by calling any county Mississippi State University Extension Service office, but there's just something special about knowing your voice will be heard on more than two dozen stations grandma might even be listening. Shy gardeners afraid to talk in person (there are some, trust me) and those too proud to contact outside help for their garden woes, still have the latest technological connection at www.msucares.com.
Whether you trust the printed word, face-to-face contact or a computer screen, we've got your answer. It may not be the response you want to hear, but then the truth sometimes hurts, especially when you're talking about your prized plants.
Take tomatoes for example, which will surely be a topic of major discussion this weekend. Bacterial wilt is rampant in vegetable gardens this summer. It is an incurable soil disease that causes the plants to look like a jealous neighbor scalded them with boiling water. Pull the dead plants and do not replant tomatoes in that soil (maybe for several years).
Rotation of different families of vegetables (tomato-pepper versus pea-bean) to other areas every three to five years is one of the few effective ways to combat soil pathogens. Fungi and bacteria often attack only certain host plants, and removing those crops for a few growing seasons takes away the food source the disease needs to survive.
Try using the sun's energy to "solarize" a garden spot and help reduce soil pests, even problem weeds like nutgrass and betony. Spread a sheet of clear see-through plastic over a waterlogged garden bed, and cover the edges tightly with bricks, boards or soil to prevent air flow. Keep covered for six to eight weeks during the hottest months July and August for the best "boil-in bag" results.
Just a smattering of gardening advice that will surely be repeated many times on the radio this Saturday for the gardeners who tune in. But once you hear it over the airwaves, it must be true.

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