Writer: Dr. Mariah Smith Morgan, MSU Extension Service
Daffodils are giving their last burst of color while the Bradford pear trees are blooming, signaling we have survived another winter. This time of year makes me do crazy things like host a tea party in my backyard for 15 preschool friends and their families, which means I have a lot of landscape work to do.
Mississippians’ best sources for landscape information are local county Extension offices or local Master Gardener groups. Master Gardeners are volunteers who have been trained in all things garden related, from proper soil acidity levels to the best plants for our climate.
For garden advice from the comfort of your computer chair, consider searching the MSUcares.com website. There are more than 3,000 articles and videos related to gardening. I am a big fan of their tips for creating container gardens.
If, like me, you have some major work to do, consider using a landscape planner like the ones available from Lowe’s and Better Homes and Gardens. The Better Homes and Gardens planner can be found at http://tinyurl.com/bhgplanit. If you want a small vegetable garden, consider the Gardener’s Supply Company planner located at http://tinyurl.com/gardenersupply.
Heirloom seeds can be difficult to find, but the Seed Saver’s Exchange offers numerous varieties. Go to http://www.seedsavers.org/ or swap seeds with other gardening enthusiasts at the National Gardening Association’s seed swap site located at http://www.garden.org/seedswap/.
Get connected with other gardeners on the social website http://myfolia.com. This site gives gardeners the ability to swap seeds, journal about their garden and ask others for help in identifying plants.
Growing tomatoes is a favorite pastime in the South, but when the plants get sick, understanding what is causing the problem is just as important as the fix. Consider consulting the Texas Aggie Master Gardener Problem Solver for Tomatoes at http://tinyurl.com/tomatoproblem.
Taking your computer or laptop out to the garden can be a rather cumbersome proposition, but your smartphone can easily make the trip and even be useful. Consider a brightly colored safety case for the phone so that it is easier to find amongst the plants and soil.
There are numerous gardening apps available for smartphones. Some of the more popular apps include the Pocket Garden, the Gardening Toolkit and the Landscaper’s Companion. The Bugs in the Garden app can help you keep track of your planting needs as well as handle those pesky invaders munching on your garden.
Allergy sufferers might consider apps like Allergy Advisor, RXmindMe and WebMD Allergy. These apps include medication reminders and allow people to keep up with local pollen counts.
Now if I can just keep the bunnies from the photo shoot out of my newly planted flower beds, this tea party should be the social event of the season. The dress code is formal; however, washing behind yours ears is suggested but not required.