Winter School addresses agricultural, home-gardening issues

By Kim Cowherd & Keenan Bishop Published:

Winter School continues Thursday evening at the Extension Office, 101 Lakeview Ct., beginning at 7 and concluding by 9. In room A/B the discussion will be on raising poultry while in room E/F the focus is on vegetable diseases, how to prevent and treat them. For more information call 695-9035 or visit ces.ca.uky.edu/franklin/. Extension agents Kim Cowherd and Keenan Bishop preview classes.

Disease control vital

Vegetable growers should be busy planning their spring gardens during these winter days when it is too early to plant. A well planned garden will give you the greatest yields, help prevent planting too much or too little, and allows you time to decide on the best vegetable plants for your particular garden situation and taste.

Consideration for special soil amendments, fertilization, controlling weed problems, and controlling disease and pest issues is best done before the first plant goes into the ground. Also keeping records from year to year can remind you of problems and successes in the past so you can address these for the future. 

Vegetable diseases can cause major problems in the garden. Disease control can be difficult for home and commercial growers and a disease outbreak can wipe out entire crops. Knowing specifically what the disease is and how it may have started is part of the record keeping process.

There are few chemical controls for homeowners, and those for commercial growers can be expensive. Keeping gardens clean, well maintained, and plants healthy is key.  

Growers can reduce the use of chemicals, increase yields, and have healthier plants by choosing those that naturally have resistance, or at least tolerance, for disease. Disease resistance and disease tolerance can also apply not only to vegetable plants, but also to other plants in the landscape- annual and perennial flowers, ornamental and fruit-bearing shrubs, and landscape and fruit trees. The science is basically the same.

Disease resistance generally refers to any plant’s ability to grow in an environment favorable for disease development yet experience less disease. Resistant or tolerant varieties are not immune to disease. 

Tolerance refers to the plant’s ability to sustain the effects of disease without suffering serious loss. Many cultivars carry resistance or tolerance to one or more diseases. 

Commercial seed catalogs, reliable plant nurseries and greenhouses where you purchase your plants generally provide information on resistance and tolerance. This information is included in the UK Extension publication.

Vegetable Cultivars for Kentucky Gardens, http://www.ca.uky.edu/agc/pubs/id/id133/id133.pd, includes recommended vegetable cultivars for our area that are resistant or tolerant to diseases that are common in Kentucky. 

Today’s gardener may choose vegetable and fruit cultivars with good taste, long harvest time, unique shape, and other desirable horticultural characteristics in addition to disease resistance. University of Kentucky horticulturists test vegetable cultivars every year, and they choose the best selections for you that produce high yields and high-quality produce. 

For more information on home gardening, log on to ca.uky.edu/agc/pubs/id/id128/id128.pdf, “Home Vegetable Gardening in Kentucky.”  For a printed copy contact the Extension Office. Commercial or large acreage farmers can go to: uky.edu/Ag/Horticulture/comveggie.html.  The Extension Office can provide printed copies or specific cropping information upon request.

– Kim Cowherd

Interest growing in raising poultry

There are a lot of folks out there raising backyard flocks of chickens, and sessions the past four years have been so popular we’ve decided to expand upon it. Last year we had Dr. Jacquie Jacob, UK Poultry Extension Associate, who specializes in small flocks. She is returning this year and will focus her comments on health of and nutrition for the poultry flock. Visit her website at http://www.ca.uky.edu/smallflocks/home.html for more.

This session will provide you a wealth of information to manage your own home flock of laying hens or broilers. Steve Skelton, KSU, will also be on hand to talk about their Mobile Processing Unit and how to become certified to utilize this resource.

Prevent grass tetany

Most have noticed that livestock are continuing to graze and where grass is available, hay consumption is down. Our mild winter (so far) has allowed grasses to manage to still provide some slow but green growth. Those that aren’t feeding a high magnesium mineral mix may want to reconsider. Once grasses start to make their rapid spring growth the magnesium levels get diluted. 

Continue providing magnesium in the mineral mix until daytime temperatures are consistently above 60*F. Mineral supplement should be available at all times and contain a minimum of about 15 percent magnesium. Make sure that your mineral mix also contains adequate selenium, copper and zinc or you can ask your feed dealer for the UK Beef IRM High Magnesium Mineral.

– Keenan Bishop

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