Spring weather pulling people into the garden
SALISBURY — The weather is finally becoming more spring-like and perfect this week and many are strongly considering spring vegetable gardening. Be prepared to protect tender vegetables right out of the greenhouse. Below are ongoing questions from home vegetable gardeners.
Q: I am planting green peas and was wondering if I have to inoculate the seed? I have read where peas need to be inoculated so they can produce.
A: Inoculating peas and other legumes is beneficial, but really not necessary for a small garden area. Soybean and other commercial pea producers inoculate seed to help increase yield and reduce fertilizer costs. The bacteria (Rhizobium) in the inoculant helps fix nitrogen in roots of legumes such as soybeans and peas. Go to http://www.aces.edu/dept/forages/miscellaneous/Ino_Forage_Seed.pdf for more complete information.
Q: I have been trying to grow spinach for three years now with no luck. Can you tell me why it is so difficult to grow spinach?
A: Spinach can be grown on a variety of soils, but it grows best on fertile sandy loam high in organic matter. The soil pH is probably an issue since spinach is very sensitive to acid soils. The pH for growing spinach should be between 6.4 and 6.8. When the pH is varies from this level, problems occur.
Q: Can I plant potatoes this week? It’s been too wet to plant them earlier this month.
A: You can plant Irish or white potatoes now. Cut the seed potatoes into 1-inch cubes with a healthy eye that hasn’t sprouted. Potato eyes are the dimples on each potato that will sprout and will produce the plant. Allow the cubes to sit for a couple of days before planting. The open wounds heal over and will help prevent them from rotting in the soil.
Q: Is it too late to spray dormant oils or lime sulfur on fruit trees?
A: It depends on the stage of bloom. If the trees are showing bud color, then it is too late to spray. The flower petals will be damaged by the sprays. Also, try to avoid spraying when weather is excessively warm or extremely cold.
Darrell Blackwelder is the County Extension Director with horticulture responsibilities with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County.