Here’s why you shouldn’t let the calendar dictate when to plant your spring garden in Forsyth County

Michelle Hall

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Garden display at Atlanta Botanical Garden(Michelle Hall/NewsBreak)

(Forsyth County, GA) Did you or your neighbors head outside during the beautiful weekend to work on your spring garden? You might have started too soon. Despite what the calendar says, the change of season from winter to spring does not signal it’s time to start planting. There’s even an old wives’ tale that says never plant before Easter, because there’s bound to be another frost.

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Spring tulips in bloom(Michelle Hall/NewsBreak)

“We can still have frosts and even hard freezes through the middle of April that can kill seedlings and young plants,” says Heather Kolich, UGA Extension Forsyth County Coordinator and Agriculture & Natural Resources Agent. “It’s important to note, too, that soil temperatures are more stable than air temperatures, so even if we have a couple of 78-degree days, soil at root depth may still be in the 50s. That’s too cold for warm-season seeds to germinate, and cool soil can tie-up phosphorus, causing nutrient deficiencies in plants.”

Flower enthusiast, but gardening novice, Lynn Collins says every year she questions just when to start planting her spring flowers.

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Potted geranium(Michelle Hall/NewsBreak)

“I ordered several geraniums from a school fundraiser,” Collins says. “They are starting to look unhealthy being inside for a week, but I don’t want to plant them too early outside and then they die.”

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Hyacinth in bloom(Michelle Hall/NewsBreak)

Kolich says before grabbing your garden gloves and shovel, start researching and planning what you want to plant. If you’re starting from scratch, make sure to call 811 to check for hidden utilities - like water, sewer, gas and electric - buried in the ground. Once you know the land is ready, here are some important steps to follow:

  • Make sure you are working with healthy soil by adding organic matter, or compost, to the existing fill dirt so that it can support thriving plants
  • Experiment with less expensive annuals to create different zones of color, sizes and shapes
  • If working with perennials, spend some time checking the soil and growing conditions of the plants and how much space they will need in the landscape bed
  • Potted plants need extra tender loving care because they have less natural insulation from soil and ground temperatures and tend to dry out faster than those planted in the ground

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Potted plants and flowers need extra care and frequent watering(Michelle Hall/NewsBreak)

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Tomatoes growing in home vegetable garden(Michelle Hall/NewsBreak)

Soil and moisture are also key when planting a vegetable garden. Many warm season vegetables do best when the soil measures 60-65 degrees at the 4-inch depth level for several days before planting seeds.

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Squash growing in vegetable garden(Michelle Hall/NewsBreak)

“Some garden vegetables, like squash, cucumbers and beans, germinate quickly and grow well from seed,” Kolich says. “Others, including tomatoes, eggplants, and for cool-season gardens, broccoli and cabbage, are more successful when added to the garden as transplants.”

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Winter vegetable garden featuring broccoli, cauliflower and kale(Michelle Hall/NewsBreak)

Here are her tips for starting your spring vegetable garden:

  • Moisten the soil thoroughly before planting
  • For seeds, keep the soil moist until the seedlings emerge, then allow the soil surface to dry out between waterings
  • Drip irrigation is the best way to provide water because it goes directly to the roots
  • Overhead watering creates wet leaves, which are a breeding ground for fungi, causing moisture loss to wind and evaporation.
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Cucumbers growing in summer garden. A direct drip irrigation system is in place to water accurately.(Michelle Hall/NewsBreak)

Kolich recommends checking on current local soil temperatures on the Georgia Weather Network. She also says to select native plants that grow in the USDA hardiness zones 7a and 7b, and tolerate drought, heat and humidity.

Now that you know how to prepare your spring garden you may want to get started because before you know it, summer will be here!

If you have a news tip in Forsyth County, email michelle.hall@newsbreak.com

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