Your School Garden, STEM, and UGA Extension

The Georgia Department of Education’s STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) day is May 6th.  In anticipation of that day we want to make sure that schools know what STEM resources are available to them through UGA Extension.

STEM-logo_with-GaDOEugaext

According to information from Gilda Lyon, state STEM coordinator, there are 28 STEM certified schools in Georgia at this time.  There will be many, many more applying for certification.  The certification process is very involved and once a school is certified it will need to be recertified every five years.

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Earth Week 2016

Earth Week 2016

Happy Earth Week 2016.  How are you celebrating?

I am celebrating with the butterflies and bees!  As the force behind the Pollinator Spaces Project I decided I needed to step up the pollinator habitat in my own garden in time for Earth Week 2016.  In one part of the garden I added three baby sage (Salvia microphylla ‘Hot Lips’) plants.  I have always loved the bi-colored flowers and they really attract butterflies.

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Spring Green Up: Timing Nitrogen Applications by Temperature

“When soil temperatures consistently measure 65 degrees (F) at the 4″ depth and are trending upwards, it’s time to fertilize warm-season turf,” says Dr. Clint Waltz, UGA Turfgrass Extension Specialist.  Resisting the temptation to fertilize warm-season turf too early in the season not only conserves valuable time and resources, but encourages a healthy competitive lawn.  Spring season air temperatures often fluctuate from lows in the mid 40’s to highs in the mid 70’s, resulting in wide swings in soil temperature.  The best time to fertilize warm-season turfgrasses such as bermudagrass, zoysiagrass, St. Augustinegrass, and centipedegrass is during the active growth season spanning May through August when air temperatures reach highs in the mid 80’s to 90’s and soil temperatures remain well above 65 degrees.

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April Gardening Chores for Georgia

April Gardening Chores for Georgia

It is that time!  Spring planting for summer vegetables.  Before planting check your soil temperatures.  Are they 60-65 degrees F and rising?  Look at the medium range weather forecast.  Any frost or temperatures below freezing predicted?

April Gardening Chores for Georgia
Are you ready for pepper season?

UGA Extension’s Vegetable Gardening Calendar give us this advice for April:

  • Plant your choices of the following “warm-season” or “frost-tender” crops: beans (snap, pole and lima), cantaloupe, corn (sweet), cucumbers, eggplant, okra, field peas, peppers, squash, tomatoes and watermelon.
  • Plant tall-growing crops such as okra, pole beans and corn on the north side of other vegetables to avoid shading. Plant two or more rows of corn for better pollination.
  • Make a second planting within two to three weeks of the first planting of snap beans, corn and squash.
  • Within three to four weeks of the first planting, plant more lima beans and corn. Remember: for better pollination, plant at least two or more rows.
  • Be sure to plant enough vegetables for canning and freezing.
  • Cultivate to control weeds and grass, to break crusty soil and to provide aeration.
  • Maintain mulch between rows.
  • For the crops planted earlier, side-dress as described above.
  • Plant tender herbs.
  • Remember: Do not work in your garden when the foliage is wet to avoid spreading diseases from one plant to another.

Happy Gardening!

Add Organic Matter, Water Deeply for Healthy Tomato Plants-A Guest Post by Michael Wheeler

This week we are happy to have UGA Hall County Extension Agent, Michael Wheeler, as a guest blogger to give us a refresher on growing tomatoes.   Michael writes….

Homegrown vegetables are a must have for many Southerners during the summer.

The one vegetable, well technically a fruit, which makes everyone’s mouth water in anticipation is the tomato. The folks I know always say the first tomato of the season is the best.
It is a known fact that homegrown tomatoes are much better than anything you can buy from the grocery store. Nothing can beat it.
Whether or not you are trying to grow tomatoes for the first time, or this is your 30th season, there are some tips to follow to make sure your harvest is plentiful.

Add Organic Matter, Water Deeply for Healthy Tomato Plants-A Guest Post by Michael Wheele
Tomato seedlings ready to go in the ground.

Before you plant, incorporate four inches of new organic matter. This will encourage the plants to explore and get established quickly.

Plant your tomatoes deep. At planting, remove the leaves from the bottom of the plant and bury about two-thirds of the stem. This deep planting causes the plant to grow roots up and down the stem that is in the ground. This extra root system will make the plant stronger and more stable as it matures.
As a UGA Extension county agent, I always tell my clients to use mulch when you plant anything. Well the same goes for veggies.
A good 2- to 3-inch layer of wheat straw will go a long way to hold back weeds, keep the plants clean from rainfall and keep the soil moist in the middle of summer.
Speaking of rain and moisture, what if we don’t get any during the summer? This is where many of the problems in growing vegetables come from — improper watering.
Water your plants so the soil stays fairly evenly moist, avoiding the extremes of it being parched and then flooded. When you do water, keep the water at the base of the plant. Wetting the leaves will only encourage diseases.
Give your tomatoes fertilizer when they are first planted. After that, they do not need much fertilization until the first tomatoes are the size of a dime or so.
Pushing your tomatoes to grow will only encourage the growth of leaves and stems, but not much fruit.
If during the summer you have problems growing tomatoes, stop by your local UGA Extension office for help identifying pests or diseases.

Thanks, Michael!  Happy Tomato Gardening!