Planting a spring garden? Prepare soon

Published 12:01 am Thursday, January 20, 2011

City employee Ginger Haskell cuts back crepe myrtles in the Andlausia medians Wednesday. | Stephanie Nelson/Star-News

While it may not feel like it outside, spring is on the way, and now is the time to make ready for those spring gardens, said Chuck Simon, Auburn Extension Agent.

“It’s time for cool weather crops,” Simon said. “These are the things you plant when the weather is cool such as English peas, greens like turnips, collards, mustard, your lettuces and potatoes.

“But before you put anything in the ground, you need to get your soil tested to maximize your growing potential,” he said.

The Auburn Extension office, which is located in the USDA building and across from the Covington County Health Department, offers soil testing for $7 per sample.

“What we do is take your sample, send it to Auburn University, who’ll send us a read out of exactly what you need to put in your soil to get great greens,” Simon said. “If people wait too much longer, other people will begin getting spring fever, and you’ll have longer to wait for results.”

Flower gardeners should also begin readying their yards for spring arrivals. Now is the time to plant shrubs and trees, graft camellias and to spray all shrubbery with a dormant spray to control diseases and insects, he said.

“Make sure you spray when weather is on warming trend,” Simon said. “January is also the time to visit nurseries and garden centers to select your rose varieties and to plant hardy annuals.”

Simon said it’s also an opportune time for indoor plantings of amaryllis.

“Don’t forget to do that outside housekeeping such as pruning winter-damaged limbs and giving houseplants a bath in lukewarm water to remove dust,” he said.

Simon urged local residents to be mindful of the extension office’s annual tree sale Feb. 2-4 at the extension office.

“We’ll have our usual brands of trees,” Simon said. “I don’t like to say what we’re getting because I’m not sure until they arrive, but it will be a good selection.”

The saplings generally sell for $1 each.