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Tips on growing tomatoes seminar and wait to fertilize lawn

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If you are interested in learning how to be more successful in growing tomatoes in the home garden, plan to attend. There is no cost to attend but space is limited. Please call the UF/IFAS Okaloosa County Extension Office at 850-689-5850 to register.

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Florida farmers produce more fresh tomatoes than any other state. Yet Florida home gardeners find it difficult to successfully grow tomatoes. By changing a few basic practices, home gardeners can increase their chances of success.

I will provide a presentation titled Tips on Growing Tasty Tomatoes on Thursday, March 7. This hour-long presentation begins at 10 a.m. and will be held at the Gerald R. Edmondson Extension Building located at 3098 Airport Road in Crestview.

If you are interested in learning how to be more successful in growing tomatoes in the home garden, plan to attend. There is no cost to attend but space is limited. Please call the UF/IFAS Okaloosa County Extension Office at 850-689-5850 to register.

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Despite the recent mild temperatures, it’s too early to fertilize our warm-season lawn grasses now. Fertilizing too soon can cause more problems than it solves.

There are a number of reasons why it’s best to wait to fertilize your lawn.

First, the soil temperature is too cool for grass roots to have access to some of the fertilizer elements. Certain elements such as iron and potassium are poorly available to the roots until the soil warms up in spring. Some nutrients will leach below the grass roots because the grass can’t use them yet.

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Secondly, fertilizing too soon can induce nutrient deficiencies and off color areas in your lawn. Nitrogen is readily taken in even under cool soil conditions. The nitrogen then stimulates new green leaves. The new green leaves that are forced by the early application of nitrogen then become dependent on iron being readily available. But it’s not under the cool soil conditions. So ultimately, you cause a nutrient deficiency by fertilizing too early. Many times, as the soil temperature warms, iron becomes available and the lawn turns green.

It takes consistently warm night temperatures to allow the root area to become warm enough for best root growth and subsequently optimal uptake of the fertilizer.

Thirdly, the young, tender grass roots that are beginning to grow in early spring are easily burned by fertilizer.

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Fourthly, fertilizing too soon can result in tender top growth which is easily injured by a late frost. The average date for our last killing frost is mid-March.

In North Florida, it’s best to wait until your lawn has completely greened up in spring before applying any fertilizer.

So, have patience, allow your lawn to green up on its own and then fertilize, even if it’s not until April or May.

Larry Williams is the Extension horticulture agent with the Okaloosa County Cooperative Extension Service, University of Florida. Contact Larry at 689-5850 or email lwilliams@myokaloosa.com.

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