The Richmond Register

January 22, 2014

Get an early start on spring gardening

By Amanda Sears
Extension Agent

MADISON COUNTY — You don’t need to wait for warm weather to start your vegetable garden. Did you know there are several types of vegetables you can start as early as March? Radishes, spinach, cabbage, broccoli, lettuce, onions and many more vegetables are all quite frost tolerant, and you can seed or transplant them in the garden from mid-March to early April.

If you want to get an even earlier start, you could try covering an area with clear plastic film to create a mini greenhouse where plants will thrive. To try this season-extending technique first work up the soil for your plot and stretch some black plastic over the area for a couple of weeks. This will help warm the soil and give seeds and transplants an added boost.

After a few weeks under black plastic, the soil will have warmed a few degrees, and you can prepare the bed for planting and transplanting. Once planted, you should install a wooden or metal frame over the bed and cover it with clear polyethylene film. Anchor the film at the base with boards, bricks or soil, but remember that occasionally you will have to remove the poly to tend to the plants and to harvest the crop.

For this reason, it’s best if you don’t permanently attach the plastic to the frame. It will also be necessary to open sections of the covering for ventilation on warm sunny days. You can easily accomplish this by designing the ends of the covering so you can easily open or remove them during warm weather.

Monarch butterflies and friends: Creating a Monarch way station in your garden

Come learn how you can help protect and attract Monarch butterflies to your home on Feb. 20, from 12 to 1 p.m. at the Madison County Cooperative Extension Office. This class will cover how to plant, what to plant, and what to add to your gardens to create a certified Monarch Waystation.

Handouts, gardening tips and garden plans will be provided. This class if free to the public, but please call and preregister so that we can be sure to have enough handouts prepared.

For more information on early spring gardening techniques or other gardening topics, contact the Madison County Cooperative Extension Service at 859-623-4072.

Educational programs of the Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, sex, religion, disability or national origin.