(Note to editor: The following is a helpful Q&A on fall gardening tips from Amanda Tedrow, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension agent in Athens-Clarke County.)Q: I’ve had my soil tested by the UGA soil lab and received a recommendation to fertilize. I am reluctant to apply fertilizer due to the current weather. What do you suggest? A: Due to the hot, dry weather, it is tough to say a solid “yes” or “no” on fertilizing right now. It is situation and plant specific. If your soil report recommends a fertilizer application to help with a nutrient deficiency or pH issue you should follow the recommendations but with caution due to the weather. Stressed plants in dry soil may have their roots burned by a fertilizer application containing excessive nutrients. Most plants are not producing new growth right now, and the spring growth has been hardened off, making the plant less vulnerable to the current high temperatures and drought stress. If you fertilize your plants now, they may put on new growth, which will not be hardened off before winter temperatures arrive, damaging the plant. You can incorporate compost into your soil to increase its water-holding capacity and add smaller amounts of nutrients. Some plants, such as annuals, do need fertilizer and additional water during the entire growing season.It is extremely important to water plants when they show stress with at least 1 inch of water per week when rainwater is not sufficient. Mulch plants with 2-3 inches of materials. Most gardeners use pine straw, pine-bark nuggets, hardwood mulch or other organic materials. I would caution against using stone or pebbles for mulch since these materials retain heat and will not cool the soil. A useful publication on “Best Management Practices in the Landscape” can be found at: http://www.caes.uga.edu/Publications/pubDetail.cfm?pk_id=7332&pg=np&ct=fertilizing%20trees&kt=&kid=&pid=Q: I am interested in starting my own garden this fall from seed. Should I grow everything as transplants or start the seeds in my garden?A: There is not an easy answer to your question. Some plants do better as transplants. Others prefer to be directly sown in the garden. Typically, root crops such as carrots, beets and radishes are best direct seeded in the garden. If these are not direct seeded, the roots are often oddly shaped, but still edible. Any plants direct-seeded into the garden need to be thinned to prevent overcrowding and to ensure proper spacing and air circulation. Plant thinning is often done when seedlings are less than 2 inches tall. These thinned plants can be eaten if desired. Garlic can also be direct seeded by planting cloves in the fall. Other root crops such as turnips or rutabagas can be purchased as transplants or started in the house and transitioned easily into the garden. Leafy greens such as collards, kale, cabbage, lettuce and Swiss chard are often started indoors or purchased as transplants. These plants along with broccoli, cauliflower and kohlrabi can be planted as small transplants, usually no more than 4 inches tall with a sturdy root system and strong stem. If you grow your own plants, make sure to provide them with enough sunlight. Plants that receive too little sunlight are often weak and will struggle to establish in the garden.
ON THE BOARDS—Lanise Saunders from Allderdice fights for a rebound against Westinghouse in City League action last season. (Courier Photo/William McBride/File) by Malik VincentIt’s not just her 6’2” frame that attracted programs wishing to sign Lanise Saunders to a full athletic scholarship. In fact, multiple sources have indicated that it’s just a plus.Cleve Wright, Saunders’ future college basketball coach at Division II Gannon University in Erie, certainly thinks so, as well. “The thing that made me want Lanise to be a part of this program the most was who she is,” Wright said. “People who have the type of heart that she has, make great teammates. And her size, intelligence, and knowledge of the game is certainly something we will be glad to have.”Saunders was a 2011 selection to the New Pittsburgh Courier All-City first team for her great junior campaign in which her Allderdice team was crowned league champs.To go along with what she brings to the court, Saunders has a 4.217 grade point average. That has attracted Division-I interest from Ivy League programs like Princeton and the University of Pennsylvania.“I just felt extremely comfortable with Gannon,” said Saunders, who signed a National Letter of Intent in November. “Yes, going to the Division I school would have been nice, but after visiting Erie and meeting their coaching staff and everyone, I know this was the right place for me.”The starting center for the City League girls basketball three-peat Dragons plans to major in electrical engineering in college. Her coach, Dave Walcheskey, believes that her smarts, hard work, and dedication is what makes her such a success.“A player of her caliber comes maybe once every 15 years or so,” he said. “She’s such a quiet leader and helps us in so many ways. She’s a very unselfish player. Her stats would be much higher, if she didn’t look out for her teammates so much. Her persistence to get better and how smart she is, really has made her into such a great player for us.”She attributes most of her success to a best friendship that she has with, who most people consider Allderdice’s best player, Janay Bottoms. The 5’4” point guard was honored as the Courier’s girls’ basketball player of the year this past June. She was pictured on the front cover— with superintendent of schools, Linda Lane— in the honorary luncheon’s special tabloid edition.“If it wasn’t for the never-ending support of Janay and her family, I’m not sure where I’d be,” Saunders said. “I wasn’t the best player starting out. I always had good size, but I was pretty uncoordinated there was so much I had to learn about the game. She would stay after practice with me and make sure I improved.”The dynamic duo has shared much success. But Saunders recalls one moment when her friend called her at the beginning of last season and made a bold prediction.“(Janay) called me and told me that we were going to go 16-0. She said we weren’t going to lose a single game,” she added. “We were going to be perfect and that we’d get another championship.”Lo and behold, the Dragons did exactly that and got past Westinghouse, a perennial power in the City, for the third time to claim the title. Saunders made it plain that she wants another one before it’s all said and done.“I think we have what it takes to get another one before I go to college,” Saunders mentioned. “We have some new talent coming in and I can’t wait to get them in and going. It should be a good year.”(Malik Vincent can be reached at [email protected]pittsburghcourier.com or on [email protected])
Pittsburgh Pirates left fielder Starling Marte is seen during during a news conference where his contract extension was discussed before a spring exhibition baseball game against the New York Yankees in Bradenton, Fla., Thursday, March 27, 2014. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) – Starling Marte wants to be part of what he hopes will be a long run of success for the Pittsburgh Pirates.Less than two years after his major league debut, the 25-year-old outfielder finalized a $31 million, six-year contract with the Pirates on Thursday.“There are a lot of reasons,” Marte said through interpreter Peter Greenberg, his agent. “I didn’t feel I needed to wait because I like where I am. I have confidence in the organization and I feel comfortable.”Marte receives a $2 million signing bonus from the Pirates, who are coming off their first postseason appearance since 1991. He gets salaries of $500,000 this season, $1 million next year, $3 million in 2016, $5 million in 2017, $7.5 million in 2018 and $10 million in 2019.Pittsburgh has an $11.5 million option for 2020 with a $2 million buyout. If that option is exercised, the Pirates have a $12.5 million option for 2021 with a $1 million buyout.If Marte finishes among the top five in MVP in any of the next six seasons, the option prices would increase by $500,000 each. If he finishes among the top five in 2020, the option for the next year would go up by $500,000. The option prices can increase by a maximum of $1 million each.The deal replaces a one-year contract agreed to earlier this month that would have paid him $516,000 while in the major leagues and $300,000 while in the minors. He would have been eligible for arbitration after the 2015 season and for free agency after the 2018 World Series.Marte hit .280 with 12 homers, 35 RBIs and a team-high 41 steals last year, his first full season in the majors. When he made his big league debut at Houston on July 26, 2012, he led off the game with a first-pitch home run against Dallas Keuchel.Marte has a .275 career batting average with 53 stolen bases and a .773 on-base plus slugging percentage.“This is something that’s part of our plan to sign young men who are going to be great players,” general manager Neal Huntington said. “We feel very fortunate Starling was willing to commit to us as we were willing to commit to him.”Marte becomes Pittsburgh’s fourth player with a deal beyond 2014: right-hander Charlie Morton and outfielder Jose Tabata have contracts through 2016 and outfielder Andrew McCutchen through 2017.“It’s an exciting time,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “We’re not trying to build a house. We’re trying to create a home. This is tangible evidence that we’re creating a place where players want to be, a place where they want to thrive, a place where players want to settle.”Notes: Pittsburgh acquired OF Keon Broxton from Arizona for a player to be named and assigned him to Altoona of the Double-A Eastern League. … The Pirates optioned RHP Brandon Cumpton to Indianapolis of the Triple-A International League.