Let's learn how to plant a garden 

Edith Lovett

Pulaski County Extension Agent for Family and Consumer Sciences

Today at our local farmers market, you will find a variety of tomato plants, ready to plant, seed potatoes, an abundance of flowers to plant or to hang. If you like fresh meat the Lake Cumberland Farmer Market has an abundance of meat available. You can also shop for Mother's Day gifts at the market. Candles, canned goods, leather goods and other crafts are there for you.

Jim Howard, who is one of our Tomato Growers in the county" will be sharing with you information about the different types of tomato plants that are available for your garden. This will be at the Lake Cumberland Farmers Market, uptown Somerset on Saturday Morning, May 22 starting around 10:00 o'clock. If you miss the talk, you can also visit his table and he will share information about the different types of tomatoes to purchase for your land.

Edith Lovett will be sharing information about freezing tomatoes, vegetables and fruits on May 22, with Jim Howard. You do not need to sign up for the two sessions. Just visit the Farmers Market.

Publications on growing tomatoes, preserving tomatoes and tomato recipes will also be available free to you. Check out the Lake Cumberland Farmers Market up town, and all the other farmers that are selling items from their farms.

If you need free publications on freezing, canning or other food preservations just come by the Pulaski County Extension Office, or pick up at the Farmers Market. Our items are always free. According to our "Growing Your Own Garden Calendar" even if you have not planted beans, sweet corn, and vining crops such as cucumbers and squash, you can continue to plant them in May in all parts of the state of Kentucky. Come by the Extension Office for your "Growing Your Own Garden Calendar" or pick up one at the Farmers Market uptown.

Now is the time to plant crops that are particularly sensitive to cold and frost; this includes tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and okra. At this time of the year, it is very important to protect these plants from frost. The last frosts of the season usually occur in early May in Western Kentucky, mid-May in Central Kentucky, and later May in Eastern Kentucky.

To protect plants from frost, use a large flowerpot placed over the plant on the evening before the frost. Be sure to remove the pot as early in the day as temperatures warm sunlight hitting a dark colored pot may quickly cause the pot to get too hot and damage the plant. Children might enjoy participating in the covering and uncovering of the plants.

Newspaper, old sheets, or blankets can also be used to cover your plants. Cover the plants in the evening and remove the paper or materials in the early morning to ensure sunlight reaches the leaves or else you will kill your plants. You can weigh down the corners of the newspaper or sheets of materials with rocks to prevent them from blowing away.

As your plants continue to grow, lightly turn the soil around plants to control the weeds. A layer of straw, newspaper, cardboard, or plastic mulch between plants will help control weeds and keep the soil moist.

If you are growing plants in raised beds or containers, the soil will dry out faster than it does in a regular garden. Water when the top of the soil feels dry. Evenly apply water around the bed or container. For raised beds, apply enough water to wet the soil about six inches deep. Use a garden trowel or shovel to check how deep the water has moved. For container gardens, apply water until some water drains out the hole at the bottom of the container. Containers may need to be watered every day or two. Raised beds usually need to be watered about twice a week unless it rains.

Our "garden calendar, says that this coming week is a good time to transplant peppers, tomatoes, melons, squash, and cucumbers. The third week in the month is a good time to plant sweet potatoes slips, that will take about 90 days to harvest. Be sure to begin checking your plants for pests and diseases that may be on your pants.

The calendar says the last week in this month is a good time to plant sweet corn, that takes about 75 days until harvest. As your garden plants continue to grow, be sure to monitor your vegetables and note specific varieties of vegetables that are doing well. Then next year you will know what types of plants you need to be purchasing.

For more information on any of your garden or canning needs, contact the Pulaski County Extension Office at 679-6361.

Educational programs of the Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of economic or social status and will not discriminate because of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, creed, religion, political belief, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expressions, pregnancy, marital status, genetic information, age, veteran status, or physical or mental disability.

This is a good day to check for farm, fresh strawberries available in the county. Surprise your mother with this "strawberry spring harvest salad.

Spring Harvest Salad

5 cups torn spring leaf lettuce

2½ cups spinach leaves

1½ cups sliced strawberries

1 cup fresh blueberries

½ cup thinly sliced green onions

Dressing:

4 teaspoons lemon juice

2½ tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1½ teaspoons Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons honey

½ teaspoon salt

¼ cup feta cheese crumbles

½ cup unsalted sliced almonds

This salad will yield 8-1 cup servings.

Directions:

Combine leaf lettuce and spinach leaves with sliced strawberries, blueberries, and green onion in a large salad bowl. Prepare dressing by whisking together the lemon juice, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, honey, and salt; pour over lettuce mixture and toss to coat when ready to serve. Sprinkle salad with feta cheese and sliced almonds. Serve immediately.

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