Thomas J. Koske | 4/22/2005 1:01:40 AM
Louisiana gardeners are getting itchy green thumbs about now, affirms LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dr. Tom Koske.
South Louisiana begins to plant spring gardens in late February and March. Central Louisiana begins one to two weeks afterward. The northern part of the state begins planting in early April as the season permits.
If you find nice transplants while the selection is good, you can hold them in full sunlight until you feel it safe to transplant into the garden.
This is also the "hot caps" season. Hot caps protect young seedlings from frost. They are placed over tender annuals when frosts or cold evenings are in the forecast. Unless they have holes in the top for venting, however, they must be removed in the morning before sunlight raises temperature inside them. While they are inexpensive, they only afford protection against frost, not extended periods of freezing weather.
If your garden has acid soil and liming is required to get it to a pH of 6 to 6.6, apply lime as soon as possible and work it in several inches deep. Lime takes several months to react, so working it into the soil is important for those last-minute gardeners.
"It takes about 46 pounds of lime per 1,000 sq. ft. to equal the liming of 1 ton of lime per acre, but the AgCenter’s soil analysis is more useful to figure out what your soil actually requires," Koske says. Visit Extension offices or garden centers for details on soil testing.
The horticulturist recommends planting these vegetables in March in south Louisiana: snap beans, Swiss chard, collards, mustards, turnips, cabbage, broccoli and sweet corn. Transplant tomatoes, peppers and eggplants. Plant cantaloupes, squash, cucumbers and watermelons well after danger of frost is over. Black plastic will help early growth.
In north Louisiana plant snap beans, butter beans, collards, cucumbers, eggplants, cantaloupes, okra, Southern peas (field peas), peanuts, pumpkins, winter squash, summer squash, sweet corn, sweet potatoes (late April), tomatoes (transplants), peppers (transplants) and watermelons.
For information on related topics, look for Gardening and Get It Growing links in the Feature section of the LSU AgCenter Web site: www.lsuagcenter.com. Additional yard and garden topics are available from an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office.