by Cathy Bylinowski, M.S., Horticulture Instructor, University of Missouri Extension
It might be hard to believe now, but the icy, freezing winter weather will be over in the weeks to come. It will be time to start thinking about spring vegetable gardening! Begin the garden season with some planning.
You can use the MU Extension Vegetable Planting Calendar to help guide you to success-
This publication will help you know what to plant when and other helpful gardening planning information.
If you want to start your own cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, or Brussels sprouts transplants, now is the time to begin. These cold tolerant cole-crops (cabbage-related crops) take about 5-8 days to germinate when in a warm (75-77 degrees) conditions.
As soon as they germinate, move the seedlings to a well- lit location. You will need a sunny south window, fluorescent lights set up on shelving units to create a bright propagation area, or a greenhouse.
Seedlings that do not get enough light, get too tall and often fall over. They will not mature into plants that produce good crops.
If you do not have adequate light to start your own transplants, you can wait and purchase cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower transplants at garden center stores soon. In Central Missouri, transplants for cole-crops can be planted outside in a sunny spot in the vegetable garden, from mid-March through mid to late April.
If temperatures well below freezing are predicted, you can cover them with newspaper, sheets of plastic, even bed sheets overnight for protection. Or you can cover the plants with floating row cover that can be kept on to help keep insect pests out.
Floating row cover is a spun polyester fabric that lets light and rain in and creates a microclimate underneath next to the soil that is several degrees warmer than the outside temperatures.
When the snow and ice melts, and garden soil is moist and crumbly, you can direct-sow cold tolerant crops such as arugula, lettuce, radishes, and sugar snap peas outside.
Onions are a good spring crop, too. They will be available at garden centers in early spring, as onion sets, which are small onion bulbs, or as onion plants.
Early spring is also a great time to plant ornamental cabbage and kale, pansies, and violas. These visually attractive plants love the cool weather and can be planted along flower bed borders, among the vegetables, and in containers. They will provide a wide range of color until the temperatures get hot in late June and July.
Do you have more gardening questions? Field Specialists in Horticulture will hold the next free Horticulture Town Hall on March 10, 2021. Here is the link to register- https://ipm.missouri.edu/townHalls/
Choose the horticulture option to join in an informative discussion on many gardening topics.
The Gardener Hotline is another way to get reliable gardening information. It is staffed by trained Extension Master Gardener Volunteers of Greater Kansas City. The phone number is 816-833-TREE (8733). You can also email gardening, landscaping, and other horticulture questions to them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Feel free to contact Cathy Bylinowski, MU Extension Horticulture Instructor, email@example.com, if you have more gardening questions or need more information on MU Extension Horticulture programs.
by Cathy Bylinowski, M.S., Horticulture Instructor, University of Missouri Extension
Weeks 1-4: To clean heavily encrusted clay pots, scrub them with a steel wool pad after they have soaked overnight in a solution consisting of one gallon water with one cup of white vinegar added. After the deposits are removed rinse the pots in clear water. A brief soak in a solution of one gallon of water with one cup household bleach added will help sanitize the pots.
Weeks 1-4: Some plants are sensitive to the fluorine and chlorine in tap water. Water containers should stand overnight to allow these gases to dissipate before using on plants.
Weeks 1-4: Wash the dust off of houseplant leaves on a regular basis. This allows the leaves to gather light more efficiently and will result in better growth.
Weeks 1-4: Set the pots of humidity-loving houseplants on trays filled with pebbles and water. Pots should sit on the pebbles, not in the water.
Weeks 1-4: Allow tap water to warm to room temperature before using on houseplants.
Weeks 1-4: Fluffy, white mealy bugs on houseplants are easily killed by touching them with a cotton swab soaked in rubbing alcohol.
Weeks 1-4: Insecticidal soap sprays can be safely applied to most houseplants for the control of many insect pests.
Weeks 1-2: Quarantine new gift plants to be sure they do not harbor insect pests.
Weeks 2-4: Amaryllis aftercare: Remove spent flower after blooming. Set the plant in a bright sunny window to allow the leaves to fully develop. Keep the soil evenly moist, not soggy. Fertilize occasionally with a general-purpose houseplant formulation.
Weeks 1-4: Gently brush off heavy snows from tree and shrub branches.
Weeks 1-4: Limbs damaged by ice or snow should be pruned off promptly to prevent bark from tearing.
Weeks 1-4: Check stored summer bulbs such as dahlias, cannas and gladioli to be sure they are not rotting or drying out.
Weeks 1-4: To reduce injury, allow ice to melt naturally from plants. Attempting to remove ice may damage plants further.
Weeks 1-4: Use sand, bird seed, sawdust or vermiculite to gain traction on icy paths. Avoid salt or ice melting chemicals as these may injure plants.
Weeks 1-4: Make an inventory of the plants in your home landscape. Note their location and past performance. Plan changes on paper now.
Weeks 2-4: Sow pansy seeds indoors now.
Weeks 1-4: Avoid foot traffic on frozen lawns. It may injure turf grasses.
Weeks 1-4: Keep records of your garden this year.
Weeks 1-4: Store wood ashes in sealed, fireproof containers. Apply a dusting around lilacs, baby's breath, asters, lilies and roses in spring. Do not apply to acid-loving plants. Excess ashes may be composted.
Weeks 1-4: Check all fruit trees for evidence of rodent injury to bark. Use baits or traps where necessary.
Weeks 1-4: Cakes of suet hung in trees will attract insect-hunting woodpeckers to your garden.
Weeks 1-4: Brightly colored paints applied to the handles of tools will make them easier to locate in the garden.
Weeks 1-2: Seed and nursery catalogs arrive. While reviewing garden catalogs, look for plants with improved insect, disease and drought-tolerance.
Weeks 1-2: Old Christmas trees can be recycled outdoors as a feeding station for birds. String garlands of peanuts, popcorn, cranberries, fruits and suet through their boughs.
Week 1: Christmas tree boughs can be used to mulch garden perennials.
Week 1: If you didn't get your bulbs planted before the ground froze, plant them immediately in individual peat pots and place the pots in flats. Set them outside where it is cold and bury the bulbs under thick blankets of leaves. Transplant them into the garden any time weather permits.
Weeks 2-4: Try sprouting a test sample of left-over seeds before ordering new seeds for spring. (Roll up 10 seeds in a damp paper towel. Keep moist and warm. Check for germination in a week. If fewer than half sprout, order fresh seed.)
Week 4: Swap seeds and information with gardening friends.
Gardening Calendar supplied by the staff of the William T. Kemper Center for Home Gardening located at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, Missouri. (www.GardeningHelp.org)
Call MU Extension in Jackson County, 816-482-5650, for more gardening information.
by Cathy Bylinowski, Horticulture Instructor, University of Missouri Extension
Hello Gardeners! Perhaps some of the leaves have been raked up and other garden chores have been completed. Hopefully now you can set aside some time for rest and recharging during the winter days ahead.
It has been a challenging year. Gardening provides a special kind of relaxation. It also provides the benefits of exercise, visually attractive plants and landscapes, and nutritious berries, fruit, herbs, and vegetables. Reading up on gardening ideas for 2021 is a good way to get ready for spring.
University of Missouri Extension is a good source of reliable gardening information and provides a great deal of information for free on the website- https://extension.missouri.edu/
You can build your own profile and account based on your interests or you can start exploring the website by using the search bar in the upper right corner or by clicking on the blue “Find Your Interest” bar on the left side of the webpage.
Another way to gain gardening information is to read the free, monthly online newsletter called The Garden Spade. It is a collection of articles, pictures, and lists of garden activities appropriate to the season, put together by MU Extension Field Specialists in Horticulture.
The December edition has articles on winter blooming house plants, winter crafts, and many other garden-related winter features. Here is a link to subscribe to the MU Extension Garden Spade newsletter- https://tinyurl.com/yybrjrx3
If you are interested in growing vegetables and fruit for profit, you might be interested in a new commercial horticulture newsletter. To register for the biweekly MU Extension Commercial Horticulture video newsletter, go to this link- https://tinyurl.com/yxlk2wja
MU Extension Field Specialists in Horticulture are still conducting free Horticulture Town Halls during the winter once a month. To register for the MU Extension Horticulture Town Hall, go to- https://ipm.missouri.edu/townhalls/
For Horticulture Town Hall video snippets (consider subscribing to this MU channel) go to- https://www.youtube.com/user/MUIPM
MU Extension provides another free, monthly newsletter via the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) page called Missouri Environment and Garden. Here is a subscription link which also includes links to past issues- https://ipm.missouri.edu/MEG/
If you would like to explore more horticulture topics in depth and have an interest in volunteering, consider enrolling in Extension Master Gardener Training. Missouri Extension Master Gardeners’ motto is “helping others learn to grow”. After twelve or more training sessions on a wide range of horticulture topics, graduates agree to volunteer at demonstration gardens, with children’s gardening projects, public education, and other Extension Master Gardener volunteer activities. It is also possible to enroll in training for personal enrichment if you are not able to volunteer.
This year, due to COVID 19 precautions, MU Extension- Jackson County offered Extension Master Gardener Training live on an online platform called Zoom. For more information on Extension Master Gardener Training in 2021 please contact our office at 816-482-5850. We have not made a final decision on how it will be offered in 2021 yet- in-person, virtually, or a combination of both, but we can add your name to a list to be contacted in the spring.
Extension Master Gardener Training is also facilitated online twice a year by University of Missouri Horticulture faculty on campus. Here is a link for more information about that option:
Both Extension Master Gardener
Training options offer a reduced fee for those who volunteer after training. A limited number of scholarships are also available. For people living outside of Jackson County, MO, we suggest you contact your local county MU Extension office for more information on Extension Master Gardener Training and the volunteer program in your area.
Here is link to help you find your county’s MU Extension office- https://extension.missouri.edu/locations
Relax when you can and enjoy the winter season. Please feel free to contact me if you have any gardening questions, questions about the resources listed above, or questions about Extension Master Gardener Training. Happy Holidays!
Cathy Bylinowski, Horticulture Instructor, firstname.lastname@example.org, University of Missouri Extension, 816-482-5850.
by Denise Sullivan, Field Specialist, Nutrition and Health, University of Missouri Extension
Sweet potatoes or yams…which one lands on your holiday menu? Wait…aren’t they the same thing? Though the names are often used interchangeably, the plants are most definitely different. Yams, a member of the lily family, are monocots, and are native to Africa and Asia.
Sweet potatoes, a member of the morning glory family, are dicots and are native to Central and South America. It also bears mentioning that sweet potatoes are not related to Irish potatoes either, which belong to the nightshade family.
Yams grow as a vine, which produces an underground tuber with a tough, hairy/scaly skin and flesh that ranges from white to bright yellow to purple or pink. Yams can range from the size of a normal potato to weighing over 100 pounds!
Yams are also much starchier and drier than most varieties of sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes produce a root that has a smooth, thin skin with flesh that ranges in color from white to orange, red, purple, or brown. Sweet potatoes tend to be more ‘normal’ in size, though I have seen friends brag on 10 pound-ers at harvest!z
Sweet potato varieties are classified as either ‘firm’ or ‘soft’. Firm sweet potatoes remain firm when cooked and are dry and crumbly, much like a standard baking potato. Soft varieties become more soft, moist, and sweet upon cooking.
Freshly harvested sweet potatoes are often referred to as “green” potatoes and are best to go through a curing process to allow the starches to break down into sugar. Curing happens by holding them for about 10 days at 80-85 degrees F with 85-90 percent humidity with good air circulation, or at lower temperatures of 65-75 degrees F for two to three weeks.
Both firm and soft varieties are a rich source of Vitamin A, potassium, magnesium and fiber, all of which are beneficial for heart health and blood pressure management.
So, why the naming dilemma? According to the Library of Congress and the Louisiana State University Ag Center, the confusion came with the introduction of soft varieties. Southern growers would call the softer potatoes ‘yams’ to differentiate from the firm potatoes, and the term has been used interchangeably ever since. Today the U.S. Department of Agriculture requires labels with the term ‘yam’ to be accompanied by the term ‘sweet potato.’ Unless you specifically search for yams, which are typically found in international markets, you are probably eating sweet potatoes!
When it comes to Thanksgiving dinner, sweet potatoes are a common element of the traditional holiday meal. I must admit though, I wasn’t a fan until I was well into adulthood, primarily because how they were presented to me as a child.
Though I typically enjoy sweet things, a squishy vegetable doused in brown sugar and marshmallows wasn’t at the top of my list of favorites. Then, while at a conference in North Carolina (producer of about half of the sweet potatoes in the United States) I had my first baked sweet potato.
This was the defining moment when I totally changed my mind about this nutrient powerhouse of a vegetable! If you ‘think’ you don’t like sweet potatoes, consider the recipe below as a compromise on your holiday table. You might just change your mind too!
by Cathy Bylinowski, University of Missouri Extension Horticulture Instructor
Sugar maples, sweet gums, and black cherries gave us a beautiful show this fall with their bright oranges, pinks, and yellows, but those leaves fell to the ground in my neighborhood last weekend.
Many of us like the sweet scent of fallen sycamore and oak leaves, but do not look forward to raking them up! If you don’t look forward to filling sacks with fallen leaves, University of Missouri Extension Field Specialists in Horticulture suggest turning at least some of those fall leaves into a valuable resource- compost and mulch!
The carbon content of fallen leaves is a great addition to the nitrogen content of old, annual landscape and garden plants and helps create good compost.
However, it is unlikely that the proportion of fallen leaves to compostable plant material will result in the recommended 30-to-1 carbon-to-nitrogen ratio for a good compost pile.
Since fallen leaves have a carbon-to-nitrogen ratio of about 50-to-1 and freshly uprooted green plants come in around 20-to-1 on average, a good approach is to add twice as much plant material as leaves to the compost bin if possible. This will come close to the recommended ratio and allow for contributions from the kitchen compost pail.
Vegetable food scraps such as apple, banana, and winter squash peels, avocado shells, and salad scraps can be added to the compost pile.
Because adding fallen leaves and garden plants in layers will allow for better decomposition, try to stockpile some leaves and add them in layers to the compost pile.
This will result in several small contributions of leaf material to the bin—a better option than dealing with a lump sum of leaves at the end of the season. Couple this with regular culling of unproductive or fading garden plants and you’ll be able to contribute the appropriate ratio of each to the compost pile on a regular basis and make end-of-the-season cleanup in the yard and garden easier.
If you have more leaves than the compost pile can take, that might mean that you have a lot of shade on your landscape. Heavily shaded areas where turf is difficult to establish may best be converted to a ‘forest floor’ landscape where leaves are allowed to aggregate among shade-tolerant native wild flowers and other perennial plants.
Another use for surplus leaves is to spread them directly onto the vegetable garden to decompose over winter. Decomposing leaves add beneficial organic matter and nutrients such as phosphorus and potassium to garden soil that helps hold nutrients and moisture in the soil and helps prevent soil erosion.
Add a layer of 6-8 inches of leaves and gently work them into the soil. Earthworms appreciate fallen leaves, too. Earthworms also help leaves decompose and add more organic matter to the soil.
Leaves do not significantly alter the pH of garden soil. Even oak leaves, which are acidic when fresh, break down to be neutral to slightly alkaline after going through the decomposition process.
One important item you can consider purchasing for your leaf composting project could be a compost thermometer. Compost thermometers are longer than a typical thermometer and usually have ranges of temperatures highlighted to let you know if the pile is actively composting or not.
It is a good way to know if your leaves and other garden organic matter in your compost pile are biodegrading into a valuable and beneficial soil amendment.
More information about composting and mulching is available in these MU Extension publications. These publications can be downloaded for free at
“Making and Using Compost”
“How to Build a Compost Bin”
Have more fall gardening questions? Please call University of Missouri Extension in Jackson County, at 816-482-5950, contact the Extension Master Gardener Hotline at 816-833-TREE (8733), or explore our website at
by Cathy Bylinowski, Horticulture Instructor, University of Missouri Extension- Jackson County
Like it or not, we are gradually saying goodbye to summer and moving into fall. The daylight hours are already getting noticeably shorter. Many people welcome fall in Missouri because it means cooler temperatures and a chance to do many gardening activities before winter arrives.
Here’s a list of fun and useful gardening activities for September:
Peonies- Never tried peonies? Do you admire their brilliant spring color and wonderful scent in other people’s yards? September is a good time to transplant them and introduce them to your garden. They come in a range of colors: white, pink, and red, and last for decades in a well-drained, sunny spot in your garden. Somewhat shallow planting is required since flowering is reduced or inhibited if the growing points of the crown are set more than 2 inches deep.
Peonies can often remain undisturbed in the garden for 20 or more years without a decline in flowering. Divide them only if growth is poor and plants fail to bloom after years of performing well.
Want more information on more ornamental perennials? Here’s a link to a MU Extension publication Flowering Perennials: Characteristics and Culture: https://extension2.missouri.edu/g6650
Planting cool season vegetables- Yes, you still have time to plant those quick maturing cool season crops that mature in 25- 55 days. Arugula, leaf lettuce, bibb lettuce, radishes, turnip, sugar snap peas, and mustard greens are some of the cool season crops you can plant now in sunny garden and harvest by mid to late October and sometimes on into November depending on the weather.
Choose a sunny area in your vegetable garden. Remove old crop residue. Cultivate the soil and plant seeds of cool season crops. Protect your crops from sudden cold snaps by using floating row cover. It is a spun polyester fabric that lets light and rain in, yet creates a microclimate next to the plants that can be 2 to 3 degrees warmer than temperatures outside the fabric. It is fairly inexpensive and lasts for a couple gardening seasons if stored after use.
Lawn care- September is the prime time to renovate your cool season grass lawn. The cooler temperatures benefit the cool season grass seed as it germinates and weed competition is not as challenging as it is in the spring. Cool season turf grasses include fescue and Kentucky blue grass. For more information on cool season turf grasses and how to manage them, check out the following publications:
Cool Season Grasses: Lawn Establishment and Renovation- https://extension2.missouri.edu/g6700
Cool Season Grasses: Lawn Maintenance Calendar- https://extension2.missouri.edu/g6705
Natural Lawn Care- https://extension2.missouri.edu/g6749
Planting Trees- Planting trees in the fall gives them time to get established when the temperatures have moderated in September and October. Roots continue growing underground even when the above ground temperatures drop to near freezing.
“Right Tree in the Right Place” is a saying to remember before purchasing and planting trees. Do some research on tree species you are interested in and then study the conditions in your yard. Remember to keep in mind over head wires, underground wiring, and other utilities before digging.
Call Dig Rite (1 800 Dig Rite or 811) before digging to have utilities marked, especially if you are planting trees and shrubs in new areas near your home. Here’s a link to a publication on planting trees- https://extension2.missouri.edu/g6850
Need more gardening information? Here are several options:
Plan to attend the free, online Horticulture Town Hall on Wednesday mornings. Register for our Horticulture Town Hall at https://ipm.missouri.edu/townHalls/
Enjoy all the MU Extension educational horticulture videos at https://www.youtube.com/user/MUIPM
And feel free to contact our MU Extension office at 816-482-5850 for more horticulture information.
by Roger Meissen, from interviews with Dr. David Trinklein, University of Missouri Extension
Don’t forget about fall gardening! Dr. Trinklein, Assistant Professor of Horticulture with MU Extension, reminds us that August and September offer a reprieve from the scorching heat of summer and an opportunity to put vegetables on the dinner table well into fall.
Fall planting, sometime called succession planting, puts summer garden plots back into production. Successive sowings of appropriate crops can help you eat from the garden into fall and sometimes into the winter. Falling temperatures means a fall crop often ends up higher in quality than produce grown in the spring and summer.
Succession planting begins with selecting the right crop. Since there is limited time until the first fall frost, choose crops that mature quickly or crops that hold up against freezing temperatures without severe damage.
Seed envelopes often have important information on the back telling you “days to maturity”. You can use that information to help you decide which vegetables you can plant and still get a crop before a frost or freeze.
Bush beans, cucumbers, and summer squash often will bear fruit if planted before late August. These fast-growing plants will have a chance to produce before cold weather. With a little luck and a fall that is warm and long, these vegetables will reward the gardener with a good crop.
Some vegetables can withstand a light frost. Arugula, beets, Chinese cabbage, collards, lettuce (leaf and Bibb types), radishes, spinach, and Swiss chard are some cool-season crops that thrive in the fall.
Leftover seed potatoes can also be planted. They will produce fresh, small potatoes to eat in the fall. Gardeners should not plant recently harvested potatoes. Fall potatoes often do not store well.
Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, and turnips are also good potential fall crops. These hardy vegetables will withstand low temperatures and provide a bountiful harvest well into the fall or early winter. Plant transplants of broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower. Kale and turnips can be planted by seed.
Sugar Snap or snow peas are additional possibilities for fall gardening because their pods can be eaten at any stage if an early frost cuts short the growing season. Again, use the days to maturity information to help you plan and plant.
Sanitation is the first step in disease and insect management in the garden. Removing the previous crop and cleaning up plant debris and weeds help lessen problems in the fall garden.
Next, lightly till or hand cultivate soil. Add a general-purpose fertilizer such as a 5-10-5 or 12-12-12 according to label recommendations. (These numbers represent the percentage of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium, in that order, contained in the fertilizer.)
Seeds sown in the fall should be planted slightly deeper than they would normally be planted in the spring. Water often to keep the seed bed moist. This helps with germination.
For crops grown from transplants such as cabbage, transplanting in afternoon or early evening reduces transplant shock.
Vegetables need 1-2 inches of water per week. If weather is dry, some watering will be required. Avoid watering plant leaves to reduce the chance of foliage diseases. Since rust and fungal diseases thrive on heat, they are less of a problem in the fall. Continue to monitor plants for disease and insect damage.
In October, row cover can add a few degrees of protection against frost. Floating row cover is a translucent, spun polyester material that traps the soil’s heat underneath it when it is spread over plants.
Since sunlight can pass through, it can be left in place for several days during a cold snap. This product is relatively inexpensive, can be found at many local gardening stores, and can be reused for several years.
With the right preparation, love and attention, a fall garden can feed the body and soul.
“Gardening is good for the ‘inner self’,” Dr. Trinklein said. “Working in the garden eases tension, restores our spirit and tends to make us feel good about ourselves.”
Contact Cathy Bylinowski, Horticulture Instructor, MU Extension, email@example.com, 816-482-5850, if you have more fall gardening questions.
August gardening information- https://ipm.missouri.edu/MEG/2020/7/August_Gardening_Tips/
by Michelle Warmund, University of Missouri, Division of Plant Sciences
July is the prime time for harvesting and enjoying blackberries. The fruit is ripe when the drupelets are uniformly black. However, sometimes individual or multiple drupelets on a blackberry are off-colored. White, tan, red, or brown drupelet discoloration can be caused by various factors during the growing season.
White drupelet disorder on blackberry often occurs during hot, dry summers. Although drupelets enlarge during the growing season, they fail to turn red (Figure 1). These white or tan drupelets can be interspersed individually among dark-colored ones or in groups. In the past, white drupelet disorder was attributed to stinkbug feeding. However, white drupelets are caused by ultraviolet radiation and high temperatures. In studies conducted on red raspberry, unpigmented or white drupelets developed when fruit was exposed to temperatures of 107°F or higher with four or more hours of ultraviolet radiation.
In another study, researchers found that the use of 30% shade cloth during the growing season reduced white drupelet disorder by 63%, but the total soluble solids (i.e., sugars) concentration of shaded fruit was 1% lower than non-shaded fruit, which slightly reduced blackberry sweetness. Some of the older blackberry cultivars, such as Kiowa and Apache, are more prone to developing this disorder than others, but several are susceptible. While white drupelets on blackberries may not be aesthetically pleasing, affected fruit are edible.
Interspersed red drupelets on ripe blackberry fruit can develop before or after harvest. Excessive rainfall before harvest has been associated with red drupelets that are soft and never turn black. In 2020, red drupelets were observed on the floricane crop Prime-Ark 45 blackberries grown in the field and in high tunnels in North Carolina. Also, a tiny eriophyid mite (Acalitus essigi) is known to cause "redberry" fruit on blackberry.
Late-maturing blackberry cultivars are particularly prone to redberry mite infestations. These mites feed on the fruit core and at the base of berry drupelets. However, these mites are not common in the eastern United States.
Reversion is the most common cause of red drupelets on blackberry fruit after harvest. With this disorder, some of the black drupelets at harvest change to a red color (Figure 2). Reversion occurs on blackberries that are damaged by bruising or fruit compression during harvest or shipping.
Also, blackberries that have a core temperature above 73°F at harvest tend to have a higher incidence of red drupelet than cooler fruit, especially during the early part of the season. Thus, a step-cooling process to lower fruit temperature is used to reduce the incidence of this disorder.
Anthracnose is a fungal disease that produces brown, shrunken drupelets on infected blackberries (Figure 3). Infection occurs in the spring during warm, wet conditions. Pruning to enhance air circulation among plants and removal of old fruiting canes in the dormant season reduces the amount of overwintering inoculum in the planting. Also, weed control improves air flow through the planting during the growing season and helps reduce disease infection.
An application of liquid lime sulfur (Sulforix) can also be applied to dormant blackberry buds just before they begin to produce new growth will control anthracnose. Blackberries infected with this disease are off-flavored and are unfit for sale.
Contact your Jackson County University of Missouri Extension office if you have more questions about berry crops or other gardening topics- 816-482-5850.
by Cathy Bylinowski, M.S., Horticulture Instructor, University of Missouri Extension
Becoming an Extension Master Gardener is an exciting process. The training consists of fourteen classes that will cover the basics of everything you need to know to be a successful gardener. We will cover introductions to soil science and plant biology and then dive into the vegetable gardening, ornamental gardening and landscaping, plant diseases, garden insects, and more.
There are also several orientations to help you learn more about the Master Gardeners of Greater Kansas City chapter.
This year, due to COVID-19 precautions, we are offering the training via Zoom, the online platform that creates our “classroom’ for learning and communicating with one another. The training will last from August 12 to graduation on November 18. If you are able to volunteer, the cost is $200 which covers the cost of a Master Gardener Core manual, a name badge, and other class mailings and supplies.
Most people who go through the training, volunteer during the following year, and become certified Extension Master Gardener Volunteers after participating in a wide range of volunteer opportunities in our region. Extension Master Gardeners help University of Missouri Extension Horticulture Field Specialists share reliable horticulture information with the public through a Gardeners Hotline, Speakers Bureau, the Children’s Program Committee, Demonstration Gardens, and more.
If you are unable to volunteer, you may also take the training for personal enrichment at a cost of $400 for the complete training course.
Please see the flyer for application and registration information or contact Cathy Bylinowski, Horticulture Instructor, firstname.lastname@example.org, University of Missouri Extension, 816-482-5850, for more details. Join us and help others learn to grow!
by Cathy Bylinowski, Horticulture Instructor, University of Missouri Extension
May has been cool so far. We should not have any temperatures lower than 50 at night according to the latest weather forecast for our region.
So that means it is time to plant tomatoes, our favorite warm season crop! Tomatoes are a versatile and nutritious vegetable and an important ingredient in so many of the dishes we like to prepare. Tomatoes are originally from South America. They were first domesticated and cultivated as a crop in Mexico and Central America so they prefer warm climates. They grow well in our hot summers and produce until late fall.
While not trouble-free, following some basic tomato tips will help you have a good chance at success:
Plant in full sun. Tomatoes need 8-10 hours of sun to produce a good harvest.
Choose well-drained soil.
Mulch around the plants by mid-June. Mulching with compost, dry grass clippings, or straw keeps the soil moist and soil temperatures moderated during summer heat.
Mulch keeps the soil from splashing onto the plant leaves, which helps prevent fungal diseases.
Apply a maintenance fertilizer when soil is prepared and before planting tomato transplants. Work it into the soil to the depth of about 6 inches. A fertilizer with less nitrogen is best for tomatoes.
Plant tomato transplants deeper than they were growing in the pots or plastic trays.
Plant tomatoes at least 2 to 3 feet apart. Good air circulation between plants helps prevent diseases.
If we do not get at least 1 inch of rain per week, supplemental irrigation is needed. Water tomatoes deeply, about once a week, around the root zone of the plant. Less frequent and deep watering is better than shallow frequent watering.
Indeterminate tomatoes will keep growing and producing tomatoes until they are killed by a fall freeze.
Determinate tomatoes grow about 3-5 feet tall and stop growing after producing a crop.
Studies show that tomatoes grown on stakes, in cages, or on trellises produce more high-quality tomatoes than tomatoes left to trail on the ground.
Give one or two side dressings of fertilizer at one-month intervals after you notice green tomatoes, about 1/3 of mature size, on the plants.
Watch for tomato hornworms and other insect pests that can damage the plants and fruit. Gardeners have a wide range of methods for insect pest control, from hand picking of pests, strong sprays of water, organic pesticides, to synthetic pesticides. Be sure to read and follow label directions for any pesticides you use.
Here is a link to a MU Extension guide sheet on growing tomatoes which will give you more information for tomato crop success-https://extension2.missouri.edu/catalog/product/view/id/4591/
Mid-May to early June is also a great time to plant other warm season crops such as sweet peppers, hot peppers, eggplant, and sweet potatoes. Contact Cathy Bylinowski, Horticulture Instructor, University of Missouri Extension, 816-482-5850 or 816-252-5051, email@example.com if you have more questions about tomatoes or other vegetable crops. Join MU Extension Field Horticulture Specialists for free Home Horticulture Town Halls on Wednesdays, 11:00am to 12noon, via Zoom- https://extension2.missouri.edu/events/home-horticulture-town-hall. Hear the latest information on a wide range of gardening topics and get answers to many gardening questions. Have a good time gardening!
Image courtesy University of MO Extension