Looking for something to do different in 2023 besides the same ole boring “lose 5 pounds” or “exercise more” or any other assorted new year’s resolutions?
Kitchen scrap gardening might be something fun to try! It reinforces recycling and reusing and learning plant parts. Plus, great learning activity for kids and adults alike. Or you can get an indoor mini greenhouse like we have. Check out an AeroGarden! We have lettuce year round plus we’ll have peppers in another few weeks!
Here are some examples of fruits and veggies you can try:
-Avocado. After enjoying, clean the seed and remove the brown seed coat. Find the pointed top, insert the tips of three toothpicks around the top third of the seed, space them equally. Rest the toothpicks on the edge of a glass and fill with water to the bottom of the seed. Change water every 2-3 days. A month later when roots have filled the glass, transplant into potting soil. Set outside in the summer months.
-Sweet potato. I did this when I was a wee lad! Cut the tuber in half and suspend above the water with toothpicks. After a few weeks transplant into a container of soil and you’ll have the start of a nice vine! You can also do Pineapple, Celery, Lettuce, Onions and many others.
Seed catalogs are arriving
We are starting to get seed catalogs and so I know that once they arrive, Spring is closer and the days are getting longer. Try a new seed plant type this year or, if never have done a small garden, try a tomato or a green pepper on your deck.
Did you prune properly?
The possibility is good of more brutal weather coming sometime. It is Winter after all! Ice storms can cause major damage. Do not do more harm than good by beating off the ice or pouring hot water over the affected branches. Remember my pruning article? If you pruned properly for strength and durability, this could make the difference between a few broken limbs and complete collapse.
Next month, sneak preview: we’ll discuss soil testing.
On the farm, we averted the rail strike somehow. This would have had a major impact not only on grain movement but also spring chemicals and fertilizer which are manufactured down south and barged north. The Mississippi River is still at historic low levels. I’ve read a 30% reduction to barge capacity vs normal.
Do you have fertilizer and chemicals all set for Spring?
Good time for planter maintenance
This winter in your heated shop, good time to do planter maintenance. Make sure to go over meters, seed opener disks, seed tubes, seed firmers, depth wheels, row cleaners, closing wheels and all chains and sprockets. Meters have to work well or you’ll get frequent skips, doubles and triples. Seed opener disks need to have a minimum diameter, or your depth placement will be off.
Seed tubes, make sure they aren’t worn and curling inward.
Depth wheels should run tightly against disks.
As for closing wheels, make sure they have an intact spring and check bearings for damage or wear.
Chains and sprockets need to have the appropriate tension and grease them regularly.
With sky high nitrogen prices, conserving N and not wasting is a good thing to fine tune. What can you do?
Get rates right. Too much wastes money, too little and you lose crop yield.
And rates vary field to field and the proper rate is a moving target. Utilize good record keeping and on-farm trials to know the right rate for the farm and seed variety.
Apply N closer to when the crop can use it. Use the right form. Anhydrous used to be the main form and I can remember 6-8 or more places in Champaign County that sold NH3. Now we have just one, I think. Urea and 28% have become the primary source now.
Use a N stabilizer or enhancer and check out a product like Pivot Bio. Do your research to be sure a product of that type actually works.
Consider manure if you can get it and beware of N volatilization. N loss without incorporation can be significant and expensive.
Trivia Answer from last month: The top three countries for cotton production are India, USA and China. Within the U.S., Texas gets the nod as top producer. Around 45% of US production.
This month’s trivia question: Two for one this month, n use of the Internet!
1) When bats fly out of a cave, do they turn left or right?
2) Under a polar bear’s white fur, what color is its skin?
Question or comments? Email me at [email protected]