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Posted By Tony Melton Florence County Extension Agent

    In the south we could care less about the frost on the pumpkins but frost on the collards making them sweet is another story.  The cold temperatures does effect the amount of starches changed to sugars within a collard leaf, giving it that sweeter flavor. The moral of the story is that even in the south cold temperatures can have an effect on the growth of plants.  


    If you are of what I call the northern persuasion, it is a different world down in the south.  The soil does not freeze and things grow during the winter here.  Even deciduous plants that lose their leaves will have roots that grow and develop in the winter.  Therefore, all plants with roots in the ground or pots will benefit from mulching. Like a quilt over you, mulch will give plants protection from the cold temperatures and desiccating winds that are ahead of us.  Insulating plants from nature’s insults with a three to four inch layer of a light mulch will make them much healthier.  A healthier, happier plant now will help it survive our brutally hot summers.  It amazes me how similar plants and people are.  You probably live in the south for the winters, and much like me plants cannot afford a summer house in the mountains.

   
    Remember, too, that organic mulch made from once-living materials is going to break down and provide nutrients to your plant. It is more trouble to use mulch that needs to be added to once or twice a year, but every inch that disappears is transformed into humus and results in richer, more productive soil.  Earthworms and their compatriots will devour that smorgasbord and your plants’ roots will thrive in a loose, moist, and nutrient rich environment.  However there is another difference in the south, organic matter does not stay around long.  It degrades quickly and must be continually added to the soil.

    Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to people of all ages, regardless of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, marital or family status and is an equal opportunity employer.  If you enjoy gardening and using flowers and plants in decorations, please watch Down Home with Tony and Amanda on Thursday nights at 8:00 pm on the SC Channel (ETV's digital station). If you don't get that channel, you can go to www.mig.org, select streaming video, and scroll down to where our shows are archived.


 
Posted By Tony Melton Florence County Extension Agent

   If you haven't heard the news, Agri-Business is again the number one sector of our state's economy.  No matter how bad the economic news is, we all need food, clothing, and shelter.  Agriculture supplies us with these basic requirements of life.  In this list I would even include the non-traditional forms of agriculture like ornamental production.  I didn't understand this until I heard Mr. Larry Weeks, the owner of Long Acre Nursery in Florence, say , "The nursery business is really inflation proof; when times get hard, people stay home and garden."  Add to this our basic need for beautiful surroundings, environmental concerns, and the demand for Certified SC grown - maybe these are some of the reasons why we had an excellent turn out for the Fall Flower Festival at the Pee Dee State Farmers Market.

    Agriculture is as varied, beautiful, and colorful as the fall colors in our forests.  In fact forest products are a major part of agriculture.  It may surprise many folks but trees are a major crop that can be intensely managed to provide us with a vast array of essentials from houses to food additives.  Once I had to give an agriculture tour for a group of six graders and one of our stops was centered on forest products - even I was surprised to learn that forest products are used as a food additive in ice cream.

     I love the fall colors including the oranges.  Sweet potatoes, pumpkins, carrots, and mums brighten and add spice to our lives.  In fact, I would probably not be here if it were not for the lowly sweet potato.   After harvest, Daddy would bed our harvested sweet potatoes and all winter long we ate sweet potato after sweet potato after sweet potato.  It took a few years and a lot of maturing, but now I love sweet potatoes again.

    I have to be bipartisan to the colleges in SC - so I even love the reds.  The reds in apples, tomatoes, and peppers seem to be connected to great health benefits.  The Certified SC Grown Program is really helping to promote many traditional SC products. For instance, even with the high prices associated with mountain land, apples are still being grown in SC because consumers prefer local fruits and vegetables.

    Finally, the colors of fall are endless but I need to mention the greens.  Turnips, mustards, and collards are called "Greens" simply because they are green.  Greens can be grown in SC all winter long.  Green reminds us of growth, prosperity, and life.  I love greens because they broke the monotony of sweet potatoes and even in the coldest, darkest, and toughest times we had greens.  Even in the tough economic times we are presently going through remember - in SC we have greens and maybe hope even in the middle of winter.

Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to
people of all ages, regardless of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, marital or family status and is an equal opportunity employer.
If you enjoy gardening and using flowers and plants in decorations, please watch Down Home with Tony and Amanda on Thursday nights at 8:00 pm on the SC Channel.  If you don't get that channel, you can go to www.mig.org <http://www.mig.org>.

 


 

 

 
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