Kaye Parker takes home two herb plants and a jar of dried herbs after Monday’s “Spring Into Gardening” workshop at the Extension Center.

From tiny herbs and protein-rich beans to tall shade trees and fairy gardens, the 100 people who attended workshops Wednesday at Madison County Extension Office got some special advice for spring planting.

“These sessions were for the more venturesome gardener,” said Amanda Sears, extension agent for horticulture. “While some seeds, such as peas, should have been planted in mid-February, there is still plenty of time to get most garden vegetables planted.”

In fact, the University of Ken-tucky Cooperative Extension Service recommends waiting until after May 10, Mother’s Day this year, to plant most vegetables, said Extension Agent Gina Noe, who organized the workshop with Sears.

“On average, there are no killing frosts in this part of Kentucky after May 10,” she said.

Temperature dips have few ill effects on lettuce, optimally planted in early March, and other vegetables, including potatoes, kale and spinach, best planted in mid-March.

“However, you should wait until mid-May for planting such staples as beans, corn and peppers and setting out tomatoes,” Sears said.

The extension service will offer workshops in “Gardening Basics” on April 28 and May 6.

At the workshops, Kim Turner and Marla Campbell of the Madison County Herb Club offered advice on drying and preserving herbs such as basil, oregano, parsley, sage and thyme. These can be used to spice up foods and as a replacement for salt, Turner said. Other herbs such as lavender can add a pleasing fragrance to a home.

As door prizes for attendees, Karen Kensicki brought small herb plants that she had grown.

“Growing herbs from seeds is a challenge,” Kensicki said. “But I get lots of satisfaction from growing them.”

For those without the patience to nurture the plants from seeds, small plants can be purchased from growers and set out.

The herb club meets at 6:30 p.m. on the first Monday of the month, Turner said.

“This coming Monday’s meeting will be about the use of ginseng,” she said. “It has several medicinal effects that can be derived from tea and other forms.”

Bill Best of Berea, who has garnered an international reputation from developing and promoting heirloom beans and tomatoes form the Appalachian region, said pioneers obtained protein-rich native varieties from American Indian tribes that were passed from generation to generation.

Commercial varieties bean are not only tough and less tasty, they contain less protein, he said.

At a conference in Mississippi, Best said a chef told him that beans were being used only as a garnish.

“If you buy a seed that has a number and not a name, you know its of recent origin,” he said.

Best offered small samples of his seeds for and larger quantities for sale.

Mike Land, who chairs the Richmond tree board and owned a nursery for many years, recommended planting native trees to replace those felled by this winter’s ice storm.

Leaves of the black gum, a native species, are dark green in summer and brilliant red in the fall, Land said.

Black gum trees taken from the wild have course roots, which makes them difficult to transplant, he said. In recent years, however, nurseries have developed varieties with finer roots, giving transplants a much better survival rates.

Yellowwood, tulip poplar and red maples are examples of native species that not only are attractive, but are more likely to thrive in the central Kentucky environment.

Red bud and white fringe are flowering native trees that grow to medium height and offer great beauty in the spring, he said.

For details about upcoming gardening workshops, call the Extension office at 623-4072 or visit the Web site:

Bill Robinson can be reached at or at 624-6622.

React to this story:


Recommended for you