Garden Fever

21 Feb

Ozarks Gardening Feb 16, 2011

By: Jim Long

It may not feel like it with all the deep freeze cold and snow we’ve had, but it’s garden planning time. Mid-February to mid-March is the best time to plant peas, onions and potatoes if you want the best growth and the fewest insect problems. Ozarks tradition dictates peas be planted by Valentine’s Day, but I didn’t accomplish it this year. My garden was still under several inches of snow that day. Next week will be soon enough.

Beetle provided by: Horn Farm Community Gardens York, PA

Potatoes, as I’ve mentioned in this column every winter for almost two decades, will tolerate a lot of cold in the spring. The earlier they are planted, the better you will avoid potato beetles. Onions too, benefit from early planting.

February is also the ultimate month for pruning grapevines and muscadines. Why so early? Because as soon as the daytime temperatures start easing upward, the sap rises in grapevines. If you wait too long to prune, the vines will “bleed” sap, sometimes gallons a day, for a week or more. Early pruning while the weather is still cold will prevent that.

This is also the month to prune back sage and lavender plants. Both herbs should be if cut back by two thirds in early spring before new growth begins to prevent die-out of the center of the plants. Hard pruning also encourages more vigorous growth and blooming. (More)

About The Author: I have been a columnist for The Herb Companion magazine for the past 19 years and have regular columns in The Heirloom Gardener and The Ozarks Mountaineer magazines. My syndicated Ozarks Gardening column runs in newspapers across the Missouri and Arkansas Ozarks and I am the author of 25 books on herbs, gardening and cooking. I travel and lecture for groups and national conferences throughout the year and travel abroad in search of new culinary plants to grow, photograph and write about. Visit my website

 

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