Transitioning from winter to spring with seed selection

Published 6:29 pm Sunday, March 4, 2018

At this time during the winter season when the weather starts to improve we get to itching to do something with our yards and gardens.

If you haven’t already, pull out one the numerous seed catalogs that you usually get at this time of year and start selecting the varieties that get your mouth watering. Sometimes certain seed varieties may be in short supply, and it may pay to order early. Grow what you like to eat. Try something new. You’re never old enough to learn.

Some seed selection tips are to select plant varieties that are adapted to our part of Georgia. UGA has recommendations on varieties that are well adapted to our climate. If you noticed this past year diseases that afflicted your tomatoes or peppers, select varieties that carry resistance to several diseases.

It’s no fun watching disease wipe out a crop. Don’t hedge all your bets one variety; select different cultivars so if one has a problem, another might thrive. Be aware of saving seed that may be susceptible to viral diseases.

These viruses may be carried in the seed’s DNA. Our UGA vegetable specialist, Bob Westerfield, recommends starting with fresh seed. Always check the back of the seed pack for the germination percentage. This percentage tells how many viable seeds that will grow.

If by chance you do have seed left over, don’t store them in a regular refrigerator/freezer. They will go through a defrost cycle several times during the month which will lessen your germination percentage.

If you also want keep those heirloom seeds passed down from your grandparent’s, store your seed safely in a chest freezer. They normally do not go through a defrost cycle.

If you want to check your germination with these seeds, perform a ragdoll test. Select ten seeds. Roll them up in a line in a wet paper towel. Place the rolled up paper towel vertically in jar or can with about an inch of water in the bottom. The water will wick up and keep the paper towel damp. After a week or so, unroll the paper towel and count the germinated seeds. This will be your germination percentage.

If you are really ambitious, you can start your seeds indoors in flats with grow lights. The trend in the consumer market is to sell larger transplants in a larger container. Of course they are more expensive than buying six smaller transplant tomatoes. There are many kits available through catalogs, online and in stores. We have a brand new bulletin on starting seeds by our UGA/Griffin horticulture specialists Sheri Dorn and Bodie Penisi. Stop by the office to pick one up or we can send it electronically through email.

We’ve already received calls concerning eliminating weeds in our turf grasses.  Make sure you read the label very carefully to make sure that the herbicide is labeled for your grass. Be sure to look to see that they are not applied to non-target shrubs and trees.

Phenoxy based chemicals such as 2,4-d; MCPP; dicamba; clopryalid and tryclopyr or combinations thereof provide broadleaf control in lawns pastures and hay fields. They are safe for livestock but may not always be for trees and shrubs. The label may specify not spraying under the drip line of trees but many roots of trees and shrubs extend well beyond the drip line.

Consider spot spraying the weed problems rather than broadcasting the entire lawn. Never exceed the labeled rate. Also never spray chemicals above 85 degrees because they may volatize more readily. They can drift and cause damage on non-target species.

If you also incorporate manure into your garden soil or the compost pile, make sure the cattle or horses have not be grazed on pastures treated with herbicides such as Grazon. The herbicide is an excellent broadleaf killer and can persist in the manure for over a year. You may have to compost it separately. The manure with the herbicide will kill broadleaf plants in your garden.

You must also have a 90 day wait till harvest for vegetables not contacting the ground and 120 day wait for vegetables contacting the ground to prevent ecoli and coliform contamination when you use manure.

What’s going on in extension?

  • 4-H Camp sign-up: Junior Camp, Cloverleaf Camp, Wilderness Camp and Marine Resources camp. For more inforamtion, call the office at (706) 883-1675.
  • March 2: MGEV Advanced Training Landscape Safety, Call Spalding County Extension, (770) 467-4225 to register.
  • Pancake Breakfast! Only $5! Saturday, April 7 from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Ag Center. Come out and support the Troup County Cattleman’s Association. Tickets can be purchased at the extension office or from a TCCA member.

If you have any questions or concerns, stop by or call the office.