I wake up at the most insane times of the morning. Not because I must do something normal like, you know, visit the lady’s room, but because I can’t sleep more than 6 hours most nights of the week. Fortunately, or unfortunately, there’s high-speed internet and YouTube! Thus, how I was re-introduced to the rewarding hobby of GARDENING!
Now, prior to Covid, I would watch the news, an occasional Netflix or just read a book. The only positive aspect that I can find with the pandemic is my return to gardening and my subsequent obsession with all things VEGETABLE. I also discovered that I may have ADGD (Attention Deficit Gardening Disorder).
I’m beginning my fourth growing season this fall. I’ve gone from a small 30-foot x 50-foot row style garden area to two 30-foot x 50-foot row style plots to containers and now raised beds. To add more assuredly to my suspicions, I’m on about my third rendition of a custom raised bed structure that I’ve been designing and building myself. I have bounced from one potting soil medium to another. I have gone from store-bought in bags to bulk purchased from soil farms to personally devised mixtures of the above. I won’t bore you with my combinations of fertilizers, fertigation and other feeding habits for my veggies, nor will I scare you with my personal concoctions produced to kill the parasites that stalk my charges. I will own some of my scatter-shot approaches and rabbit-hole visiting. However, a good many of my adventures come from the hundreds of videos I watched and the myriad of opinions I considered from very well meaning and enthusiastic gardeners on YouTube.
To save those of you who might relate to my pain, let me let you in on a secret I have found to solve 99% of my “trial by error” and organizational short comings: The Mississippi State Extension Service’s website. I will even drill down a bit further: THE SEARCH BOX in this site!
This is a wonderful place to start if you have a single question, are new to gardening, an old pro or just someone who enjoys a beautiful lawn, majestic tree, or an abundant garden…and want one. Across the Mississippi State University Extension Service website are articles on every conceivable question about a garden, a lawn, or a tree from 50,000 foot overviews to a microscopic pathogen blowing up your prized heirloom tomato. Information is available in formats ranging from video to PDF. These materials are fact based from scientist not your amateur “YouTuber” looking for a thumbs up. Here are a few examples: It’s December and you may or may not have a garden in production. What do you need to be doing in your yard, your flower beds or in your languishing vegetable plots? Check out “Calendar of Home Gardening Chores in Mississippi” (P3437). Your pruners and loppers are stacked in the shed so dull they couldn’t cut butter in the middle of August. Check out the video ““Sharpening Your Garden Tools.” Want to plant some of your own Blueberry bushes, a Citrus Orchard, or a Pecan Grove? There is an entire library of information contained in the “Fruits and Nuts” publication and blog.
To conclude, save yourself a ton of confusion. Avoid the unnecessary stress of knowing what information is accurate and what is just show-biz. Look to the pros to optimize success, to save valuable time, conserve treasure and for many of us, stay organized. Gardening requires persistence; but gardening is so much fun, and it is so personally rewarding to see or taste your hard-earned labors. Avoid circling the global information superhighway for knowledge that is super easy to access right here in your own backyard.
If you enjoy gardening and the company of others who also enjoy gardening, check with your local county Extension Service office about the Master Gardener classes that are offered by MSU.
By: Betsy Burk, MSU Pearl River County Extension Service Master Gardener Intern