Ready, set plant your garden

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 22, 2009

As of Friday we are officially in spring and the current weather validates it. Wouldn’t it be nice if it was like this year round?

I have had a few people ask me the million dollar question, are we safe from a late freeze?

I would like to say the chances are slim, but no one can predict the weather. So feel free to start preparing for all your spring planting just be ready to take precautions should the late freeze alert arise.

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Before I answer any questions I want to tell you my highlight of the week. I had the opportunity to start off the spring down at the Natchez Children’s Home. What a wonderful place.

The Adams County 4-H Junior Leaders along with some of the terrific kids there planted over 250 flowers all around the house. This was all possible thanks to the donation by Upton’s Nursery in Kingston who donated the flowers.

Q: What vegetables should we be planting right now?

A: Hopefully some of you vegetable gardeners are already out in full swing. There are several things you need to remember to put in the garden this year. For those of you that are just now starting to try your luck with gardening here are some plants you need to consider planting for this time of the year: tomatoes, squash, watermelons, spinach, potatoes, southern peas, okra, eggplant, cucumbers, corn and beans.

Be sure to have a game plan before going into your garden. For instance, you can plant spinach and beans 4-6 inches apart, cucumbers and okra 12-18 inches apart, tomatoes 24-26 inches apart, and watermelons up to 72 inches apart. As you see, failing to prepare for these distances can have your garden plants competing for space and make any hope for fresh produce a tangled mess.

Q: What are some good spring plants with lots of color and low maintenance?

A: Some people like to work in their flowerbeds and gardens year round, others, like me, prefer to plant it, forget about it and hope for the best. I like plants that give color all spring and summer with little to no pruning. I will give them an occasional fertilizer and let them fend for themselves.

In sunny areas, try some different plants like verbena, daisies, million bells or begonias. Million bells is very low maintenance and is great in full sun with long days and tolerates temperatures down in the teens should a late freeze occur. Verbenas will get 12 inches high, begonia grows to about 10 inches and show uniform color well into summer. Petunias usually top off around 12 inches but provide a wide range of colors with extra large blooms. A cluster of daisies are also great for keeping flowers popping all summer.

In areas with partial shade, purple petunias and white or red begonias remain great options. Salvia is another good plant that will get about 10 inches tall with dark green foliage and fiery-red flower spikes along with other color options.

David Carter is the director of the Adams County Extensions Service. He can be reached at 601-445-8201