With this season’s delightfully mild winter (so far, anyway), Murphy, NC gardeners are increasingly focused on the upcoming growing season. In fact, they might even be tempted to till the soil and get a jump on their vegetable planting work. Although waiting until the last frost date (May 10 in Cherokee County) might be a safer course of action, gardeners can take some important steps with these Tips for Prepping Your Vegetable Garden during February and March.
Here in the western North Carolina mountains, February can be an unpredictable month. During the course of a week, we might experience rain, snow, and thunderstorms. Temperatures can also fluctuate wildly, making gardening a high-risk endeavor without heavy-duty protection or super-hardy plants. However, February can be a terrific time to begin your garden prep work.
Tidy Up Your Existing Plants: While most garden plants are dormant (leafless) for winter, clip off weedy vines that could choke the plant once it begins to grow in the spring.
Give Your Compost Pile a Workout: Vigorously blend (or turn) your compost ingredients before the month ends. Start a new batch from fallen leaves anytime. Although you’ll expend some energy now, you’ll be more likely to get some rich black compost when the growing season begins.
Develop Your Vegetable Garden Master Plan: To get the best results from your garden space, decide which vegetables you’ll grow this season. Determine each variety’s spacing and cultivation needs, and use companion planting techniques if appropriate.
If you’ll plant a fall garden, and/or a cover crop, include those vegetables and/or grains in this season’s master plan. After you’re finished, list the needed resources (soil, additives, fencing, etc.), along with their respective costs. By planning ahead, you’ll be less likely to make impulse plant and soil purchases at your local garden center.
Start Your Cool-Season Vegetable Seeds Indoors: Plant cool-season vegetable seeds such as broccoli, lettuce, and cabbage. Follow recommended seed-starting procedures, and provide plenty of artificial light to stimulate plant growth.
After the tiny plants emerge, keep lights near the top of the seedlings. As they continue to grow, move the lights up accordingly. Or, plant your seeds in front of a large, sunny window. Plan to transplant these cool-weather veggies in mid-March.
Believe it or not, March’s weather can be even more volatile than February’s conditions. Although spring arrives this month, snow and/or frost can also make an appearance, often damaging early-blooming plants and trees. Even with March’s crazy climate, though, it’s a good time for garden soil conditioning and even cool-season vegetable cultivation.
Complete Your Garden Bed Preparations: When the soil is dry enough to crumble in your hand, deeply till the garden and blend in your preferred amendments. Don’t attempt this labor-intensive process when the clay soil is wet, as your hard work will merely result in hard clumps of useless dirt.
Plant Your Cool-Season Transplants: Move your thriving cool-season seedlings into the garden, observing planting depth and spacing guidelines as needed. To discourage weed growth, consider mulching your rows with straw, shredded leaves, or grass clippings. Besides making it tougher for weeds to grow, these natural mulches add beneficial nutrients to the soil as they decompose.
Direct-Seed Cool-Hardy Vegetables: Go on a planting spree, direct-seeding sturdy vegetables such as lettuce, spinach, turnips, radishes, beets, chard, and onion sets, among others.
Plant Your Pepper, Tomato, and Eggplant Seeds Indoors: Start your warm-weather vegetable seeds inside the house, giving them lots of light to encourage growth. These sensitive seedlings must stay indoors until the frost danger has passed, or your hard work will be wasted.
By observing a few basic planting guidelines, and paying close attention to the weather, you’ll get your Murphy, NC vegetable garden off to a good start. Better yet, you’ll set the stage for more good results in April and May.
We hope you enjoyed our Tips for Prepping Your Vegetable Garden
The Poltrock Team – REMAX Mountain Properties – Murphy NC – ilovemurphy.com – Call us Toll Free at 1-866-Murphy-NC or 1-866-687-7496 – Murphy’s #1 Real Estate Team