Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Timing the garden

Our spring came later than usual this year in central Kentucky. The beginning of the month was as dry as August and filled with encouraging sunshine. But it only takes a day for clouds, rain and cool winds to reappear and remind us it’s not summer yet. That’s what we have this week.

Gardeners pay attention to the weather because it’s important. The vegetables I have in the ground now are thriving because this is when they like to grow. Lettuce, spinach, arugula, onions, potatoes, beets, peas, cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage are all happily opening their arms to the drizzle and the cool nights. The weather will make them sweet, crisp and filled with flavor. This is their season.

Just last week the warm weather dangled temptation in front of many gardeners, including my husband. “When are you going to plant your tomatoes?” he asked as he eyed the healthy plants I grew from seed. He encouraged me to go ahead and put a few of them in the ground. I declined. In Kentucky it’s never a good idea to put summer crops in the ground until some time in May.

If you’re new to gardening and unsure about the timing of setting our your plants, check with your local agricultural extension office. When I first started gardening, a friend gave me a gardening guide from the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service that included earliest and latest safe planting dates. Just last year I picked up an updated version. It’s invaluable, especially on those tempting days of spring.

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