Green Side Up

Garden talk with Gazette community blogger Janice Peterson.

Janice Peterson: Warm weather, spring plant sale coming soon

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Janice Peterson
Thursday, May 1, 2014

Spring is coming on slowly this year and I think that's great. It's given me time to really clean up my flower beds, prune trees, repair garden art, and give some thought as to what I want to plant this year. I hate those years when we have a really short spring then jump right into a hot summer. It sends us scrambling to prepare our gardens, plant, and start dealing with weeds. I am confident that nice warm growing temperatures are right around the corner and it's almost time to start planting!

Vegetables gardeners know to look at the days to maturity listed on seed packets and plant tags to estimate the number of days before they can harvest their produce. I like to grow hot peppers, some of them with maturity dates of 120+ days. Of course, peppers can always be picked early in a pinch. Pumpkins and squash also can have long maturity times. It's also important to know when to plant vegetables. Tender annuals like basil shouldn't be planted until all chance of frost has passed but cold crops like spinach is planted much earlier. For most plants it's safest to wait until mid-May to start planting. I remember when the rule was to wait until Mother's Day to plant a garden.

Rotary Botanical Gardens is holding a fantastic spring plant sale this Mother's Day weekend that features over 100 varieties of hybrid and heirloom tomatoes, sweet peppers, hot peppers, ornamental peppers, eggplant, basil, kale, okra, Swiss chard, kohrabi, and over 60 kinds of herbs. There will be really cool varieties that you can't find anywhere else (how about trying 'Boxcar Willie' heirloom tomato, 'Aunt Molly's' ground cherry, 'Cute Stuff Red' mini-bell pepper, 'Purple' tomatillo, 'Bhut Jolokia' ghost pepper and 'Rosa Bianca' eggplant?). Check out the online plant lists and descriptions and make your shopping list ahead of time!

What are you planning on growing in your garden this year? Are you a serious vegetable gardener or is a pot of basil your limit? Share with us if you are trying anything new!

Janice Peterson has worked as a grounds horticulturist at Rotary Botanical Gardens in Janesville since 2002. She is a master gardener with the Rock Prairie Master Gardener Association. Though her education is in plant science, she considers her love of gardening and strong back to be her true qualifications. Janice is a community blogger and is not a part of The Gazette staff. Her opinion is not necessarily that of The Gazette staff or management.

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