Thomas J. Koske | 2/2/2006 3:34:40 AM
Louisiana gardeners are getting "itchy green thumbs" about now, according to LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dr. Tom Koske. They want to jump-start their spring gardens.
South Louisiana begins to plant spring gardens in late February and March. Central Louisiana begins one to two weeks later. The northern part of the state begins planting in early April, as the season permits. You may find nice transplants while the selection is good and hold them in full sunlight until you feel it’s safe to transplant into the garden.
Koske says this is also the "hot caps" season. Hot caps protect young seedlings from frost. They are intended to be placed over tender annuals quickly when there’s a frost warning. Unless they have ventilation holes, they must be removed in the morning before sunlight raises the temperature to dangerous levels. Also, they protect only against frost, not extended periods of freezing temperatures.
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 square feet 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.
Vegetables that may be planted south Louisiana during March include 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 mulch will help early growth.
Vegetables that may be planted in north Louisiana during March include 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.
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture