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Since winter has hung around so long this year it has been hard to get outside and do much with the vegetable garden. It looks like spring may finally be here to stay, so it is time to get outside and start on this year’s garden. While it is still early to plant crops like tomatoes or sweet corn, it is time to transplant cool season vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower. Seeds like lettuce, radishes and sweet peas can be sewed directly in the garden.
Here are some suggestions to make the most of your garden this year:
Plan your garden before you plant. Try to avoid planting items in the same places they were planted last year. This is especially important for plants subject to soil borne diseases like tomatoes, peppers and potatoes. Even sweet corn can benefit from being planted in a different location than last year. Be careful when locating taller crops like corn that shorter plants are not shaded. If possible, put your garden plan on paper. This will help you decide ahead of time what can be planted after early vegetables are harvested and can be used next year to help you remember where things were planted this year so that you can rotate as mentioned above.
If this will be a first time garden or you decide to relocate your garden to a new location, choose a site that has full sun for at least eight hours each day, is relatively level and well-drained. Make sure you have a nearby source of water in case the weather turns dry. There are very few summers where the garden will not benefit from some extra watering. If it is a first time garden, plant a garden you can easily maintain. Beginning gardeners often overplant, and then they fail because they cannot keep up with the tasks required. Plant the garden as close as possible to your door so that you will easily see when it needs to be weeded, watered or vegetables are ready to harvest. Seeing the garden several times a day and picking ripe vegetables and removing small weeds makes the garden much more likely to remain in control. Having the garden away from the house may lead to not visiting it every day and having it get overgrown with weeds or produce get over-ripe.
Prepare a good seedbed in which to plant. Don’t rush things and till the garden when it is too wet or you may end up with large clumps of soil that are hard to break up. Large soil particles will not allow good seed or root to soil contact and germination will be delayed or transplants may wither and die off. If possible get the soil tested and apply lime and fertilizer according to recommendation. The extension office can tell you how to sample your soil and can have the samples analyzed by UK for $7 per sample.
A well-planned and maintained garden should produce 600 to 700 pounds of produce per 1,000 square feet. Not only will this save you money at the grocery store this summer, but if you freeze or can what you can’t eat right away, these savings can be extended year-round. In addition, vegetables fresh from the garden have more nutritional value than those that may have been picked many days earlier to be shipped to the supermarket. Another benefit of growing your own vegetables is that you can involve your children or grandchildren in the growing of the garden. Children are much more likely to eat and enjoy vegetables if they have participated in growing them. Having them involved will get you and the children out of the house for fresh air and exercise.
If you would like more information on growing a garden, or the preparation, freezing or canning of the produce from your garden please call the extension office at (270) 692-2421. We have many resources that can help home gardeners maximize the produce they can produce.
The University of Kentucky’s first 2013 Grazing School will be April 17-18 at the UK Research and Education Center in Princeton. Grazing is the most cost-effective way for producers to feed ruminant animals. Each year, the University of Kentucky - College of Agriculture hosts two installments of the Kentucky Grazing School to help producers become better managers of their grazing systems.
The school will cover grazing information specific to Kentucky and focus on spring and summer grazing options. A unique feature of the program gives participants the opportunity to design a grazing system based on their property. Organizers ask that participants bring a printed aerial map of their farm to the school. Maps are available through the Marion County Extension Office.
Participants will visit field sites and tour demonstration plots. During the first day, they will work in groups to install a rotational grazing system including assessing pasture yield and setting up small paddocks. Cattle will then graze the paddocks. On the second day, they will observe the grazed paddocks and hear reports from each group.
The Grazing School will run from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. each day. Cost of the program is $50, which includes materials, breaks and lunch both days. For more information or to register for the Kentucky Grazing School, contact the extension office.
UK has not announced when or where the second Grazing School will be held.
The Washington County Livestock Center will hold a graded sheep and goat sale on Saturday, April 13. After that, starting in May, they will have a sale on the third Saturday of each month. Sheep and goats of all sizes and ages will be sold. Livestock must be at the stockyard by 11 a.m. on the day of the sale for grading and the sale will begin at 1 p.m. For more information call the extension office or the livestock center.
Educational programs of Kentucky Cooperative Extension serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability, or national origin.