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It’s the perfect time to start gardening

Entering mid spring, many people are beginning to plant their gardens if they haven’t done so already.

According to the University of Missouri Extension, mid to late May is the perfect time to start planting vegetables such as asparagus, bush and green beans, lima and even soy beans. It’s also the perfect time to start planting yellow, bi-color and white sugar-enhanced corn.

Katie Kammler, a Horticultural specialist with the Missouri Extension, believes it’s still a good time to plant cold season plants as well.

“Most people should already have their lettuces, radishes, potatoes and your cold crops like cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower planted,” said Kammler. “Some of your tomatoes, cucumbers and sweet corn like warmer soil temperatures and warmer temperatures at night, so usually mid to late May would be the better time to plant that type of crop. I know a lot of people who have tomatoes and they will plant them early, but a lot of cases the tomato crop will just sit there because temperatures are not warm enough for them to grow.”

There’s still plenty of time to plant this year. In vegetable gardening there are some crops that can actually be planted as late as August for fall gardening.

“If you have a lot of your summer vegetation that is gone, you can start planting green beans, cucumbers and some of your other cold crops again, but as long as you plant them by the first part of August,” Kammler said.

There are several different steps people can take if planning on gardening in a new spot this year.

“Get a soil test, so you know what you have to work with and if you need to add lime to change the PH so the nutrients are readily available to the plants. What kind of organic matter do you have in the soil and what kind of fertilizer you’re going to need to apply to get the plants going and be healthy,” she said. “Rotation is very important. Particularly with plants that have a lot of problems such as your tomatoes and crop like that. Just rotation within the garden spot every other year if at all possible helps keep disease down.”

Diseases occur more frequently when there’s a light rain or heavy dews while temperatures are mild. Plants can get four different types of diseases: viruses, bacteria, fungi and nematodes.

A few things for people to keep in mind to help avoid diseases in plants would be to keep them fertilized and to use the appropriate amount of water to keep them strong. Irrigate the garden by running water between the rows of the plants. Sprinkling the leaves encourages disease to spread. In case you have to sprinkle the plants, allow enough time for the plants to dry before night falls.

In some cases, fungicides are needed to control disease. Obviously it’s best to apply fungicides before spots or signs of disease appear on the plants. There are two forms of fungicides that people can use – dusts and wettable powders.

If planning on dusting the plants people can buy a commercial duster or make one with a sock. The steps are easy, fill the sock with fungicide dust and tie the top. Attach the sock to a stick and then shake the stick so that the dust from the sock will fall on the plants.

Using the wettable technique will require a sprayer. Hose-on sprayers are not expensive and can be used for insect and disease control. To use a hose-on sprayer, it must be close to a water faucet. Pressure sprayers cost more but can be used anywhere. It’s important to also wash out sprayers thoroughly after use.

Dix Garden Center by MCII in Park Hills is going through their busiest month of the spring season. They offer a lot of variety from flowers to vegetables.

“We did just have Mother’s Day so a lot of people bought baskets and small potted plants for that, but your flower season will really start picking up here throughout the remainder of the month,” said Brandon Anderson, Dix Garden Center manager. “We’re pretty much plant oriented. Earlier in the spring we’ll get some potato seed and other seeds as well as your potting soil.

“We are just a seasonal garden center here. We’re open in the spring and close throughout the summer and re-open in the fall around September 1. We do a lot of mums, pumpkins and straw during the fall season.”

The garden center usually remains open until weather conditions get too unbearably hot outside which could last into June depending upon the weather.

For more gardening tips, contact your local Missouri Extension office. 

• Cucumbers are sweeter when planted near sunflowers. It may seem like an odd pairing, but sunflowers make great growing companions when it comes to planting sweeter cucumbers. Not only do both plants require similar soil conditions, the tall stalks of the sunflowers give cucumber plants something supportive to climb.

• Using egg shells as fertilizer is rich in calcium carbonate and dried egg shells work as a great natural fertilizer. If you crush them up in a blender before throwing them in your garden, it will will enrich the soil.

• To make your garden look more balanced and pleasing to the eye, be sure to plant in odd numbers. This composition looks more natural than even numbered groupings and gives off the illusion that plants are bigger and healthier.

• Keep your shorter plants on the south side of your vegetable garden and tall plants toward the north. This will prevent taller plants from casting unwanted shadows over smaller crops, shading them from the sun.

Dix Garden Center by MCII in Park Hills is going through their busiest part of the spring season.

Dix Garden Center by MCII in Park Hills is going through their busiest part of the spring season.

Korey Johnson is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-518-3616 or 

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