Planning and preparing the garden

Although the ground may be frozen or muddy right now, depending on what day it has been lately, spring will be here before you know it. Those seed catalogs are beginning to show up and garden supplies will soon hit the shelves of local stores. I mention all of that to say that it’s time to start thinking about the 2018 garden. There is lots to do now to plan for the spring. This is the “what to think about” time of the year. The first questions that come to mind are “am I growing for consumption, am I growing to sell, or am I growing for both?” The answer to those will allow you to correctly plan your garden.

Begin looking for that information via several resources. One of my favorites it our Home Vegetable Gardening in Kentucky publication. This has a lot of valuable information to help you get started with your garden as well as keeping it healthy throughout the year. Just give us a call or stop by the office and we’re more than happy to provide you a copy or you can look it up online at: http://www2.ca.uky.edu/agcomm/pubs/id/id128/id128.pdf.

While the ground is frozen and you’re waiting to plant, there are several tools you may want to use to make your job easier. Those are pencil and paper, soil test, seed catalogs or information, and a calendar. Put that pencil and paper to good use by first drawing a map of your garden and placing all vegetables on that map. You may even want to add the planting dates for each plant and how much you planted. This will come in handy throughout the season. The soil test will also tell how much or if any fertilizer is needed and this is something that we can take care of here at our office. Knowing the right germination and harvest times for your seeds or plants will allow you to know when to plant. Another website that has this information is: http://www2.ca.uky.edu/agcomm/pubs/id/id133/id133.pdf.

Another item to look at is the location of your garden, is it easy to access, does it have good drainage, does it get plenty of sunlight, etc. Making changes to where you planted an item last year could cause it to yield more this year. A garden that has a low area that collects too much water, in the early spring, can affect how your plants produce later in the year.

Naturally, knowing how much you want to grow is a big decision and it comes down to time you can spend in your garden. Having a garden that can produce enough for you and your family will reap many benefits throughout the season. Another plus is adding a few more plants and being able to sell some of that produce. There are several avenues, one of them being the Harlan County Farmers Market. In 2017, many produce vendors sold out within the first two hours of the market being open. That’s definitely another gardening option to look into.

To help get a jump start on gardening, you may be interested in our Growing Growers Series this spring. Our next sessions, “Planting and Preparing” will be held at two different locations, both beginning at 6 p.m. On Feb. 20 at the Harlan County Extension Depot and Feb. 27 at Pine Mountain Settlement School’s Laurel House. For more information or to register, just give us a call or stop by the office.

For more information on gardening ,contact us at the Harlan County Extension Service office at 606-573-4464.

Jeremy Williams is the Harlan County extension agent for agriculture & natural resources. Educational programs of the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability or national origin.