Johnson County 4-H Fair getting closer; time to prepare your entries

Here at the Purdue Extension Office in Johnson County, we are preparing for the 2015 4-H & Agricultural Fair.

It is on our minds all 12 months of the year, actually.

Now I’d like to plant a thought about the fair in your head (pun intended). The dates are July 19 to 25. There are many ways to experience the atmosphere of the great Johnson County fair.

It takes several visits to walk around and see everything. Have you noticed that not all the exhibits are done by 4-Hers? Many of them are, but we also have open class. These are exhibits submitted by Johnson County residents in Scott and Fitzpatrick halls. The section that I focus on involves flowers, garden vegetables and crops. You can exhibit everything from cacti to cucumbers and sunflowers to soybeans.

The open class exhibits in Scott Hall focus more on photography, foods, sewn items and crafts. Since we do have such a wide variety of open classes, the rule book is a great source of information. It lists what you can bring in and on what date.

You can find the rule book on our website

You are also welcome to pick up a copy at our office, 484 N. Morton St., Franklin. Our hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. One more very important piece of information for this year’s fair: grand champion open-class winners will be presented with a $50 cash award. Please let us know if you have any questions.

So in order to have a great-looking garden with flowers and vegetables that you can exhibit at the fair, you might want some weed control tips. Whether it’s a dandelion or a tree seedling, any plant out of place would be considered a weed. There are a number of practices you can use to manage frustrating weeds.

Control weeds before they mature and produce seeds. Many seeds are dropped and survive in soil for years to come.

Clear plastic cover heats soil and kills weeds over time.

Mulch can be put down in a thick layer to prevent weed seed germination. Mulches also decompose and increase soil nutrient levels over time.

Hoeing can be very effective for annual weeds — those that complete their life cycle in one year. Other perennial weeds (such as dandelions) need to have the roots pulled out. Loosening the soil first makes this work easier.

Promote healthy plants that you do want so they are better able to compete with any weeds. Do this by putting the plants in the proper site and giving them water and fertilizer when needed.

Herbicide applications can kill weeds, but you must pay attention to the label. See what the active ingredients kill and precautions you need to take.

I’m sure no one wants to accidentally harm family members, the environment, or surrounding desired plants. Be sure to read all instructions for application rates and medical safety info before you apply any herbicide.