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When it’s safe to plant my garden and more answers

By Amy-Lynn Albertson

Rowan County Extension Director

Question: Is it safe to plant my vegetable garden?

Answer: Our frost free date is April 15, and this year, I would wait to plant.  We are looking at potential frost for Saturday with lows in the low 30s.  Most of our tender summer vegetables like tomatoes and squash will suffer some damage at those temperatures.

Cool season vegetables like broccoli, lettuce, kale and Brussels sprouts will be fine. Hold off on planting those tomatoes until May 1 and you should be safe by then.

What do you do if you already planted your tomatoes? You can use cloches for frost protection. Cloches are removable glass or plastic covers that protect plants from cold. Sometimes called bells or bell jars, most fit over individual plants, but some are large enough to cover a row.

Plastic cloches are less expensive than glass ones. Because they are lightweight, they must be staked into the ground to prevent them from blowing away in high winds. Like other covers, cloches should be placed over plants before the sun sets and removed in the morning after the frost has thawed.

Another method for frost protection is to fill plastic milk jugs with water and place them in the sun, allowing them to soak up heat during the day. Before dusk set the jugs around your plants and throw a cover over them. The water in the jugs will lose heat more slowly than the soil, and the air and the warmth it emits will keep your plants warm. Watering around plants the night before a spring frost can protect them from freezing. During the night, the wet soil will release moisture into the air, which will raise the temperature and keep plants warmer.

Question: When does the Farmers’ Market open?

Answer: The Rowan-Salisbury Farmers’ Market opens for the season on April 14.  Due to the projected construction of the Bell Tower Green project, the market is moving to 520 S. Main St. for the 2018/2019 seasons.  This location is in the parking lot of Sidekick Karate. The hours for the market will be 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Look for lots of salad greens, cut flowers, herbs, vegetable transplants, strawberries, radishes and more.

Rustic Roots food truck will be on site with water buffalo burgers and other tasty treats for sale. Better Loafing will have some gluten-free and paleo baked goods, and there will be fun activities for the kids sponsored by Yadkin Path Montessori School.

Question: Every year I enter stuff in the fair, but I never win, what am I doing wrong?

Answer: Sept. 14-22  is fair week in Rowan County.  The Rowan County Agricultural and Industrial Fair is sponsored by the Faith and Spencer Jaycees.  The 2018 fair book is available online at www.rowancountyfair.net after July 1.

If you’ve thought about entering items in the fair but have been unsure of how to do it or what the judges are looking for, we’ve got the perfect seminar for you. On Tuesday, April 10, the Rowan County Master Gardeners will host an hour-long panel discussion on how to win a blue ribbon at the fair. Blue ribbon winners and former judges will share their secrets to success. This seminar is free and open to the public. Call 704-216-8970 to register.

People wishing to enter items in the fair will need to download the fair book to know what division and class your item should be entered in. Competition is open to all Rowan County residents, and entry forms must be into the Rowan County Extension Center by mail or in person by 5 p.m. Sept. 10. For more information, contact the Rowan County Extension Office at 704-216-8970.

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