Spring is in the air as Elsberry gardeners and farmers prepare for bloom

 Posted on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 9:18 am

Geranium

Believe it or not spring is in the air. With the warm weather right around the corner, many are getting a late start on their gardens. But not to worry, with help and advice from Margie Herring, manager at the Forrest Keeling Garden Center, those vegetable and floral gardens will still look top shelf.

“Now is a great time to go ahead and start tilling and laying down any kind of pre emergent fertilizer,” explained Herring. “Things like Lime, which is good for tomatoes, are able to be prepped now.”

According to Herring, with all the good rain or moisture will make it easy for the fertilizer and pre emergent to soak in. However, she went on to explain how it would be best to wait on planting any actual vegetables until the weather is a little more consistent.

“Even cold crops could pose a challenge because of all the rain we’ve been getting, they may rot before you harvest them,” said Herring. “Anything that is dormant is good to plant now, which means as long as it’s not budded out or bloomed it can be planted, especially with all the moisture we have right now.”

According to Herring, anything with new growth on it should not be trimmed or cut as it could burn them out if another cold spell happen to come through the area. Now plants such as tulips or “spring bulb” plants should be OK because they are considered cold hearty plants. The only thing is with spring bulb plants, once they begin blooming and if another cold spell were to come through it could shorten their bloom life.

“There really isn’t a whole lot you can do when it comes to this,” further explained Herring. “These kinds of plants are used to coming up in the spring. I mean daffodils can bloom in the snow. I would hold off planting any bulbs you would typically plant in the spring for just a little while longer simply because it’s very muddy right now.”

Herring went on to explain how it would be best for the soil to dry up a little more and there shouldn’t be a tremendous hurry, because plants like this can be planted all the way up to June or July. However, the end of April would be ideal for spring bulbs.

“Now if you’re planting new plants, of any kind, I advise using a good root stimulator, so it gets rooted in before we get into heat and drought,” said Herring. “There are several varieties of stimulators out there that people can buy, like we have a fertilome here at the nursery, which is just a chemical you can add in with water and use to water your garden. On bare root products you would want to soak the roots for approximately two-hours prior to planting and then just dump it in with the plant.”

By using stimulators on new plants, it wakes up the plants and gets them moving to get rooted in, according to Herring. It’s always ideal to make sure everything is good and rooted because not only will it help maintain and lengthen the plants life but will help it’s survivability during the initial process.

“I’m not an expert on fertilizing in the fall but I don’t suggest nor like it,” said Herring. “I think it promotes new growth that freezes in the winter, but different people vary on that it is a matter of preference.”

One of the big concerns farmers and gardeners have this season is the prediction of another dry season. But for now it seems to be a good thing spring is seeing all the moisture it is now, according to Herring.

“If it stops and we go into drought a lot of the problem people are going to face is actually over watering,” explained Herring. “People have a tendency to want to give a plant water because they thinks it thirsty due to the hot dry weather and that can have the same affect as under watering a plant. Sometimes it can be hard to know the difference between the two because the symptoms are almost identical.”

When it comes to droughts, like what many farmers experienced last year, Herring said there is not a lot anyone can do to prepare for such extremes.

“It hurt a lot of people last year, even us,” said Herring. “We’re trained to take care of that kind of stuff and it hit us hard. I would suggest giving your plants water at least once a week in a drought and just watching them as much as you can.”

Herring went on to say that if a person is unsure, they can call Forrest Keeling Nursery and anyone of their highly trained staff can help them. Spring gardens can be a tedious thing, but Herring said they can also be an extremely rewarding thing and the best thing anyone can do, especially new growers is to start with a pot or raised bed.

“With a raised bed, you can control almost everything,” said Herring. “You can control the soil, the chemicals, the growth, I mean everything. Where as a grounded garden you have to deal with wash it, certain kinds of bugs and several other nuisances that can be very discouraging.”

Potted plants are also ideal for those that may not have a large yard or are limited on space. According to Herring, potted plants can be easily maintained and are perfect for specific flowers or vegetables, such a tomatoes.

“There are quite a few people who come in looking to grow some herbs or vegetables just in their pots and it works for them,” explained Herring. “It’s easy on space and it’s easy for them to maintain.”

Although there are several way’s people can work their garden, Herring said they area always welcome to come and speak with her or any of the trained staff of other ideas or information. Forrest Keeling is located at 88 Forrest Keeling Lane in Elsberry. For more information or for advise call 573-898-5571.

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