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Clydette M. Alsup and Pamela B. Trewatha

Many homeowners have difficulty establishing ornamental gardens in shallow, rocky soils. “Gardening in a Bag” (planting directly into bags of topsoil) offers a viable alternative for growing many herbaceous ornamental plants. This study compares the growth and appearance of several herbaceous bedding plants using “Gardening in a Bag” versus “in the ground” planting methods. Twenty-five cultivars of Alternanthera dentata R. Br., ornamental pepper (Capsicum annuum var. annuum L.), dianthus (Dianthus barbatus L.), gazania [Gazania rigens (L.) Gaertn.], marigold (Tagetes patula L.), petunia (Petunia hybrida hort. ex E. Vilm.), salvia (Salvia splendens Sellow ex Schult.), peek-a-boo plant (Spilanthes oleracea L.), verbena (Verbena hybrida hort. ex Groenl. & Rümpler), and vinca [Catharanthus roseus (L.) G. Don] were evaluated in 2002 under the two planting methods: in the ground versus in bags of topsoil. Wave petunias, dianthus, vinca, and rose moss (Portulaca grandiflora Hook.) were evaluated using the same methods in 2003. All plants were mulched with 7.5 cm coarse sawdust. In 2002, the planting method had no effect on the average height for 16 of the 25 cultivars tested. Seven cultivars were taller when grown in the ground whereas two cultivars were shorter during that treatment. Planting method had no effect on average plant spread of 13 of the cultivars. Plant spread was greater for nine cultivars grown in bags, whereas three cultivars were wider when grown in the ground. Visual ratings of overall appearance were similar for 14 of the cultivars regardless of planting method. In 2003, performance of the five species was evaluated on 3 July, 29 July, and 5 Sept. Planting method did not affect growth and appearance of rose moss or vinca. The two petunia cultivars and the dianthus tended to be taller and wider and had more flowers when grown in the ground compared with growth in bags. Visual quality of the petunias and the dianthus was unaffected by planting method until September when the `Purple Wave' petunias and the dianthus grown in the ground received better ratings than plants grown in bags.

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Clydette M. Alsup and Pamela B. Trewatha

In two experiments, seedlings of black-eyed susan were transplanted into 15-cm pots and after 1 week received one of the following treatments: media drench application of 0.1, 1, 10, or 100 mg·L-1 of paclobutrazol or pinching back of terminal growth once, twice, or three times. After plants reached salable size, plant height, lateral branch length and number, and flower counts were taken, and plants were harvested for dry weights. In the first experiment, all pinching treatments and 10 mg·L-1 paclobutrazol reduced plant height and increased lateral branching. Flower count at harvest was enhanced by paclobutrazol and reduced by pinching, due to delayed development of inflorescences. Lateral branching and flower bud count were greatest in the second study on plants receiving three pinches. The 100 mg·L-1 paclobutrazol-drenched plants had lowest height, dry weight, and bud count and were severely stunted. The most attractive plants appeared to be those that received the 10 mg·L-1 paclobutrazol drench treatments.

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Clydette M. Alsup and Pamela A. Trewatha

The rocky Ozarks soils make it difficult for some homeowners to establish ornamental gardens. An alternative to digging in rocky soils is planting into bags of potting soil. This study evaluated “Gardening in a Bag” for herbaceous bedding plants. The growth and appearance of Alternanthera, Capisum annuum, Dianthus, Gazania, Tagetes `Wave', and upright petunias, Salvia splendens, Spilanthes, Verbena, and Catharanthus roseus were evaluated in 2002 under two planting methods: in the ground vs. in bags of potting soil. Wave petunias, Dianthus, C. roseus, and Portulacagrandiflora were evaluated in 2003. All plants were mulched with 3 inches of coarse sawdust. In 2002, planting method had no effect on average height for 16 of the 25 cultivars tested. Seven cultivars were taller when grown in the ground while two cultivars were shorter in that treatment. Planting method had no effect on average plant width of 13 of the cultivars. Plant width was greater for nine cultivars grown in bags, while three cultivars were wider when grown in the ground. Visual ratings were similar for 14 of the cultivars, regardless of planting method. In 2003, performance of five species was evaluated on 3 and 29 July and 5 Sept. Plant height and width were greater on plants grown in the ground than plants grown in bags on 3 July and 5 Sept. Only plant width was significantly greater in the soil-grown plants on 29 July, although the greater height trend was still evident. Plants in the ground had more flowers than plants in bags on 3 July, but there were no differences in flower number the other two dates. Visual quality ratings were taken on the second and third dates, with no differences between treatments. Root soil temperature was higher in bags than in the ground on all three dates in 2003.

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Clydette M. Alsup, Brian A. Kahn and Mark E. Payton

Hairy vetch (Vicia villosa Roth) cover crops were grown in a rotation with sweet corn (Zea mays var. rugosa Bonaf.) and muskmelon (Cucumis melo L. Reticulatus group) to evaluate the legume's ability to remove excess P from soils when poultry litter was used as a fertilizer. Fertilizer treatments were: 1) litter to meet each crop's recommended preplant N requirements (1×); 2) litter at twice the recommended rate (2×); and 3) urea at the 1× rate as the control. Following the vegetable crops, hairy vetch was planted on half of each replication, while the other half was fallowed. The vetch was removed from the field in a simulated haying operation in the spring. Soil samples were taken at 0-15 cm and 15-30 cm depths at the onset of the study and after each crop to monitor plant nutrient concentrations. The vetch sometimes raised soil test N concentrations at the 0-15 cm depth. Soil test P concentrations at the 0-15 cm sampling depth in the vetch system were consistently lower numerically, but not statistically, relative to comparable plots in the fallow system. Soil test P at the 0-15 cm depth was usually increased by litter at the 2× rate relative to the urea control, regardless of cropping system. Yields of both vegetable crops were similar among all cover crop and fertilizer treatments.

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Clydette M. Alsup, Brian A. Kahn and Mark E. Payton

Cowpea [Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp.] cover crops were grown in a rotation with broccoli (Brassica oleracea L. var. italica Plenck.), spinach (Spinacia oleracea L.), and turnip greens [Brassica rapa L. var. (DC.) Metzg. utilis] to evaluate the legume's ability to remove excess P from soils when poultry litter was used as a fertilizer. Fertilizer treatments were: 1) litter to meet each crop's recommended preplant N requirements (1×); 2) litter at twice the recommended rate (2×); and 3) urea at the 1× rate as the control. Following the vegetable crops, cowpeas were planted on half of each replication, while the other half was fallowed. The cowpeas were harvested at the green-shell seed stage and then underwent a simulated haying operation to remove remaining shoot material from the field. Soil samples were taken at 0-15 cm and 15-30 cm depths at the onset of the study and after each crop to monitor plant nutrient concentrations. The cowpeas lowered soil test N concentrations at both soil sampling depths, but had no consistent effect on soil test P concentrations. Soil test P at the 0-15 cm depth was not increased by litter at the 1× rate but was increased by litter at the 2× rate relative to the urea control, regardless of cropping system. Poultry litter was effective as a fertilizer for all three vegetable crops, but the 1× rate appeared inadequate for maximum production of broccoli and turnip greens.