With the warmer weather this past week, my thoughts turned to spring and the upcoming growing season. Right now, you can get a head start on your garden by planting frost-susceptible vegetables indoors. The seedlings can then be transplanted into the garden when weather permits.
The benefits to this are that vegetables which take longer to grow such as tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants will be ready to harvest sooner. This will extend your harvest season. Cool-season crops such as cabbage, Brussels sprouts and broccoli will be ready to pick before the hot weather arrives. Ward Upham, K-State Research and Extension Horticulture specialist has given us a few tips this week to help make sure your plants get the start they need for a successful growing season to come.
* Use fluorescent lamps, not incandescent bulbs. Often a south-facing window does not provide enough light to grow strong transplants and therefore supplemental lighting is helpful. Fluorescent lights produce much less heat than incandescent bulbs. This allows fluorescent lamps to be placed very close to the plants (2 to 4 inches) increasing the amount of light received. Also, T-8 fixtures and lights require less electricity and produce more light than the old T-12 types. Additional light produces stronger plants.
* Leave fluorescent lamps on long enough. Young plants do not react to day length, so lights can be left on as long as desired. Sixteen hours of light each day usually is sufficient. A timer can be used to automate the process.
* Use potting soil or a seed starting mix rather than garden soil. Plant roots need to breathe. In other words, they need oxygen. Garden soil stays too wet too long and new, tender roots can suffocate.
* Rewet a peat-based media with hot water. Though moist peat will absorb cold water easily, dry peat will not. Hot water overcomes the hydrophobic nature of dry peat. Small batches of media can be mixed with water in a sealable plastic bag to cut down on the mess.
* Plants react to movement. Brushing your hand over the tops of the plants each morning and afternoon will cause them to become stockier. Use about 10 strokes each time. Strokes will not compensate for lack of light. Plants grown under inadequate light will be spindly regardless of care.
Sprayer Calibration program planned for Rush Center
As a reminder, Barton County and Walnut Creek Extension will be hosting a Sprayer Calibration Program at Township Hall in Rush Center on Feb. 25th. The program will start with a lunch at 12:30 p.m., and should last until 3:30 p.m. The presenter will be Dr. John Slocombe, Agriculture and Forage Machinery Safety specialist from K-State Research and Extension. Topics to be covered will be: Nozzle Type Discussion and Demonstration; Calibration of Sprayer; Droplet size; and Application methods
There will be CCA and CEU credits available for attending this program. There is no cost to attend this meeting, but please call 1-877-798-3921 or 620-793-1910 to see if there is still room for you to attend. A special thank you to our sponsors for helping us with the cost of bringing this program to you: Straub International of Great Bend, Simpson Farm Enterprises Inc., and BTI.
Alicia Boor is the Agriculture and Natural Resources agent for Barton County K-State Research and Extension. You can contact her by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 620-793-1910