The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

The Garden Guide

March 7, 2011

Time for Cool Season Crops

TARBORO — What signs do you look for to indicate the beginning of spring – golden daffodils dancing in the breeze, spring peepers filling the air with music, or maybe the sight of honey bees visiting the fragrant winter honeysuckle in your neighbor’s yard?

For me, the vibrant splash of red along our roadway and ditch banks give me the first indication that spring is near. Contrary to what many might think, that amazing burst of life is not new foliage, but instead is an abundance of delicate red maple flowers.  

These visual cues often trigger a new season in the Filbrun household as my family and I unveil seed collected from last year’s bounty and await the arrival of new seed varieties in the mail. As with many avid gardeners, the temptation is to begin planting immediately; however, it is important to let the soil temperature be your guide.

One valuable resource to help you is the Rocky Mount Station of the State Climate Office of North Carolina (http://www.nc-climate.ncsu.edu/cronos/?station=ROCK).

A search under “Soil Parameters” will reveal that the current average soil temperature is 48 degrees Fahrenheit. At this temperature, it is safe to consider direct seeding beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, collards, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard, onions, garden peas, Irish potatoes, radishes, rutabagas, spinach, Swiss chard and turnips into your 2011 vegetable garden.

Assuming that you have received your soil test results and have made the necessary adjustments, there are a number of other soil factors that are important for your seeds to take off. The soil should be worked to a fine texture with uniform consistency so that the seed makes good contact with the soil particles without excessive voids and air pockets.  Follow the recommendations on the seed packet, as each vegetable often has different depth and spacing requirements. Remember the smaller the seed the more shallow it should be planted; a general rule of thumb suggests a suitable planting depth is usually about two to four times the minimum diameter of the seed.

One common question surrounds how you go about sowing those tiny seeded varieties. It is best to sow these seeds thinly and uniformly in rows by gently tapping the packet of seed.

At planting, the seed has a low oxygen requirement; however, as germination occurs, oxygen demand increases and a loose, well aerated soil provides the ideal environment. The seed must first absorb water and then have an adequate and continuous supply of moisture for the embryo to develop properly. Temperature works in concert with the moisture level to affect germination percentage and rate. As implied above, each species has a minimum, maximum and ideal soil temperature for best germination.

If you are new to gardening, start small; try a container planted with your favorite vegetable placed on your stoop or patio. Fill the container with a good quality potting soil and sow any of the cool season vegetable seeds mentioned above. After you have harvested the produce, simply remove the plant and plant a warm season vegetable in its place. A little effort will reward you many fold.

Bob Filburn is an Edgecombe County Extension Service agent specializing in horticulture. Look for his Garden Guide each month on the Community page.

 

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The Garden Guide
  • pink-nerine.jpg Ask A Master Gardener

    Edgecombe’s Extension Master Gardener Volunteers are holding their Spring-Planting Bulb Event tomorrow (March 23) at Marrow-Pitt Ace Home Center in the garden department from 10 a.m. until 1 pm. The volunteers will be giving demonstrations on basic bulb planting as well as container planting (bring your own or purchase one from stock).  A variety of pre-packaged summer and fall-blooming bulbs will be sold including: ginger lilies, rain lilies, galtonia, agapanthus, tuberosa, liatris, tigridia, cannas, nerines and many more.  Proceeds from the bulb sales will fund the Extension Master Gardener Volunteers’ spring/summer projects, including those sanctioned by this year’s America in Bloom competition committee. Ace is located at 1713 N. Main St.

    March 22, 2013 2 Photos

  • Master-Gardener.jpg "Ask A Master Gardener"

    Buddy H. (Tarboro) asks: I discovered this unusual substance wrapping the stems on all of my compacta holly when I was pruning them last week.

    March 15, 2013 1 Photo

  • Weeds.jpg Ask A Master Gardener

    "As the promise of spring begins to beckon the attention of "dormant" gardeners this time of year, so it is with those dormant weeds that will appear soon enough, making for a lot of catch up work to get our lawns ready for show time," says local Master Gardener Trainee, Bernice Pitt who has just completed certification in an NC State University course in Turf Management.  Pitt is manager of the lawn and garden center at Marrow-Pitt Ace Home Center in Tarboro and is ready to help you with solutions in
    maintaining your lawn.  "I have found that the best source for answers to questions regarding turf grasses is the site:
    www.turffiles.ncsu.edu and another,
    www.turfweedmanagement.ncsu./weedmanagement.aspx," Pitt added. "It's where we found answers to this week's questions."

    March 8, 2013 1 Photo

  • Master Gardener.jpg "Ask A Master Gardener"

    "Ask A Master Gardener" is a weekly column providing our readers solutions to common problems concerning horticulture, gardening, and pest management. Trained Extension Master Gardener Volunteers have access to the research that provides answers.
    Submit your questions by email to  askemgv@gmail.com, call the local Extension Center at 641-7815 and tell them you have a question for a master gardener; a volunteer will return your call with a solution to your problem, or write to "Ask A Master Gardener", c/o The Daily Southerner, P.O. Box 1199, Tarboro, 27886.

    February 22, 2013 1 Photo

  • N1204P66020C.jpg “Ask A Master Gardener”

    Ronnie E. (Conetoe) asks: What is the best temperature and method to store fresh pecans?

    February 8, 2013 1 Photo

  • Filbrun 2.jpg Sanitation: An Important Garden Chore

    So, what will tomorrow bring?  At this time of year, we are riding the roller coaster up and down as winter and spring duke it out.  While it is still too early to start most seeded varieties of annual flower and vegetable varieties, it is not too early to prepare for the upcoming gardening season.

    February 6, 2013 1 Photo

  • "Ask A Master Gardener"

    John W. (Tarboro) Asks: A neighbor posed this question to pass along. They did nothing to winterize their yard and, as a result, have all of the winter-type weeds that survive everything. They wanted to know if there is anything they can do now to kill off the weeds and what and when do they start to try and green up their yard and kill back weeds as we head out of winter.

    February 4, 2013

  • image002-resized.jpg Ask A Master Gardener

    This week, we have two questions coming from visitors to the Blount-Bridgers House Garden.  The garden committee works regularly each week to maintain this lovely garden oasis in Tarboro’s Historic District. Garden manager, Jeni Filbrun invites you to join the volunteers, “the weekly weeders,” each Wednesday morning at 10 for an hour of garden tending.

    January 28, 2013 3 Photos

  • Master gardener.jpg Ask A Master Gardener

    “Ask A Master Gardener” is a weekly column providing our readers solutions to common problems concerning horticulture, gardening, and pest management.  Trained Extension Master Gardener Volunteers have access to the research that provide answers.  
    Submit your questions by email to askemgv@gmail.com.  Or call the local Extension Center at 252-641-7815 and tell them you have a question for a master gardener; a volunteer will return your call with a solution to your problem, or write to “Ask A Master Gardener”, c/o The Daily Southerner, P.O. Box 1199, Tarboro, NC 27886.

    January 11, 2013 1 Photo

  • paperwhite bulbs-3.jpg Ask A Master Gardener

    “Ask A Master Gardener” is a weekly column providing our readers solutions to common problems concerning horticulture, gardening, and pest management.  Trained Extension Master Gardener Volunteers have access to the research that provide answers.  
    Submit your questions by email to askemgv@gmail.com.  Or call the local Extension Center at 252-641-7815 and tell them you have a question for a master gardener; a volunteer will return your call with a solution to your problem, or write to “Ask A Master Gardener”, c/o The Daily Southerner, P.O. Box 1199, Tarboro, NC 27886.

    January 4, 2013 1 Photo

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