Posts Tagged ‘cooperative extension service’

Raising Plants from Seed – Planting Dates

Planting Dates

If you are planting seed to grow the plants out doors, you need to find out what the average dates for the first and last frost for your area. These two dates will help you determine when to plant each kind of seed. Some seed can be planted early and will tolerate some cold, for example, broccoli can be planted in the ground between mid-February and mid-March in my area. This is before our early April date for the last frost. Other varieties, like sweet potatoes, should not be put out until all danger of frost has passed. Check the seed packet, it will usually say something like, “Plant when all danger of frost is past.” Here in the Atlanta area the average date for our last frost in the spring is between March 30 and April 10. In real life, this can vary by two weeks in either direction, so be warned.

Check with your state’s Cooperative Extension service website for gardening publications. They are usually available in PDF format and free for the downloading. For example, I have one named “Vegetable Planting Chart.” It’s a two page chart that, for each variety of each vegetable, lists the days to maturity, the cultivars that grow well here, the Spring and Fall planting dates, and the depth to plant the seed. Although the chart is specific for Georgia, most states have similar publications for their local conditions.

When it comes to actually starting the seed in early spring, you have two basic choices; indoors or out. As I mentioned, some plants don’t do well until the soil has warmed up and all danger of frost is past. Again, your Cooperative Extension Service can help you out here. You can wait to plant or, if you’re like me (impatient), you can try starting them indoors and transplant them outside once the weather is warmer.

To be continued.


Getting Gardening Advice for Your Part of the Country

Getting Advice

When I started gardening, back before the internet, it wasn’t easy to get gardening advice for my part of the country. I had several good garden books that covered almost everything you might want to know about gardening. However, these books were usually written with the north-eastern states in mind, like Ohio and New York. The times for the average first and last frost were way off from what I was used to, as were the timing for planting seeds, planting and pruning roses, etc.. At that time, I was living in south Georgia where it was too cold for tropical (Florida) growing advice and too warm for many plants that grew comfortably in the northern part of our state.

Since the advent of the internet, things have gotten easier. Over the years, one of the most constant, reliable sources of local gardening information has been the state Cooperative Extension Service, often known as the county agent. Every state has one. Recently, I came across the website  It’s a portal for access to state Extension services across the country. Though the Extension service is primarily aimed at farmers, it includes a lot of valuable information about local growing conditions.

In Georgia, we are also fortunate to have a retired Cooperative Extension Service employee, Walter Reeves, who writes a garden advice column for the Atlanta Journal, has a call-in garden talk show on the radio, and a couple of television shows on public broadcasting. All that in addition to writing books about gardening in Georgia. Recently, I’ve been consulting his gardening calendar for the times for various tasks in the yard; pruning hydrangeas, dividing iris’, and when to think about planting seeds for a fall garden. He also has advice about which varieties do well in our state. While his advice is aimed at Georgia, much of it will apply to the rest of the southeastern states (Florida, you’re on your own).

Many states will have people like Mr. Reeves whose reliable local gardening advice can be just a web search away. ( I started to say, just a Google search away, but I’m also finding Bing to be a useful tool – your mileage may vary.)