Fruits and veggies

As spring is now officially here it is time to think about planting your garden, which many have already done with some root crops like Irish potatoes.

Also, as many of us are spending more time at home due to the coronavirus circumstance, it is a good time to be outside and devote more time to being self-reliant by growing some of our food.

Gardening can provide not only better nutrition and physical exercise, but also mental relief from stress and anxiety.

Planning a garden is the first step to consider with starting your vegetable garden. You may already have a site, but if not focus on a site with near source of water and full sunlight of course.

Well drained soil is another consideration. Run rows east to west if possible. Plant tall-growing vegetables on the north side of lower-growing crops. If space site is limited utilize “raised-beds” and plant crops that yield greatest return for your effort such as pole beans, tomatoes, cabbage, root crops and leafy greens.

If possible have your soil analyzed. You can get a “soil test kit” at your County Extension Center. When applying fertilizer, broadcast and till into soil or apply it in furrows 3 inches to either side of the rows with crops.

Plant seed by covering lightly or pressing down the seed with your finger into the soil from 1/2 to 1 inch deep. Transplants with either peat or soil cups should be planted so that all roots are buried. Both seed and transplants need water after planting.

Transplants need temporary shade for two to three days after you set them out. Mulch with leaves, straw, black plastic, newspaper or compost to conserve moisture, reduce weeds and control erosion.

If you have major pest or disease problems, contact the Extension Center at the number below.

For more information and a “N.C. State Extension Home Vegetable Gardening – Quick Reference Guide” contact me at the Jackson Extension Center at 586-4009 or email “robert_hawk@ncsu.edu.”

Hawk is extension director for Jackson and Swain counties.