Spring is in bloom

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 20, 2009

The old adage of holding off planting until Good Friday is probably not a good idea for local farmers, according to Auburn Cooperative Extension Agent Chuck Simon.

With today the first day of spring and the ground wet with recent rain, many local gardeners and farmers are readying their land for planting.

“Traditionally, farmers try and time their planting when they think the last frost of the year is going to hit,” Simon said. “I know a lot of farmers that plant early only to get quashed by the frost, which we’ve had here as late as after the middle of March.”

Simon said, personally, he plants towards the end of March and early April.

“I think if you wait this year until Good Friday, which is April 10, that’s too late,” he said. “But if you ask me when the last frost is going to be, I don’t know. This weather is crazy. The patterns we’re seeing — I have a feeling they’re too good to be true, but that’s not to say we’ll see a frost in the next few days. There’s no indication of that.”

Simon said his office has seen an “upsurge” in the number of people requesting information about gardening.

“A lot of folks are planning vegetables and gardens because they’re worried about the economy,” he said. “I have been talking to local stores about the volume of seeds going out and it’s a lot.”

A good number of those people are planting potatoes, he said.

“Now is the time for them,” he said. “Tomatoes will follow next month, corn and peas — those sort of things. People just need to remember that if you planted potatoes in a certain spot last year, don’t follow those with tomatoes in that spot this year. They’re in the same plant family.”

For those who enjoy pleasure gardening, now is the time to plant annuals, he said. Examples include cleomes, snapdragons, amaranths, cosmos and petunias.

Anyone wishing more information about gardening is invited to visit the extension office located on State Hwy. 55 across from the Covington County Health Department, or to call 222-1125.