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Let’s Think About PlantingMaster Gardener ScoopMarch 25, 2015

Let’s Think About Planting

By Majo Bates, Master Gardener

There are no magic tricks or difficult techniques in starting seeds or in setting plants out. But there are some simple steps we should follow to insure success.

We don’t plant as large a vegetable garden as we used to; I guess we’ve gotten lazy and maybe too busy! What a shame! Fresh vegetable are so good and enjoyable. Much of the success of our garden depends on when and how our vegetables are planted.

Planting by the moon is a favorite topic for discussion among many gardeners. My own Mamaw used to always plant by the moon or by the Almanac . . . There is no scientific evidence to support planting by the moon; planting studies have shown no relation between the different phases of the moon and good production of crops. You would not have been able to convince my Mamaw of that, I’m sure.

How early you can plant depends on the hardiness of the vegetables and the climate. Some vegetables can withstand frost while others cannot. Some vegetables are classified as hardy, half-hardy, tender, or very tender. Read your labels, ask the garden expert in the department of a store, or call on a Master Gardener of your local U of I extension service. Also, the average last 32 degree freeze in our area will help you to determine safe planting date.

Please use disease – free seed. Read the label for this information.

Mark out straight rows to make your garden attractive and to make cultivation, insect control, and harvesting easier. To mark a row, drive two stakes into the ground at either-edge of the garden and draw a string taut between them. Shallow furrows, suitable for small seed, can be made by drawing a hoe handle along the line indicated by the string. For deeper furrows, use a wheel hoe or the corner of the hoe blade. Read up on good, correct spacing between rows. Some folks chose to broadcast instead of using rows. This is your choice.

Space seeds properly in the row. The number of seeds to sow per foot or hill will also be advised on your seed label or you can look it up in your favorite gardening book or maybe on-line. Most gardeners will be able to do this after a few years of experience. Space the seeds uniformly. Small seeds sometimes can be handled better if they are mixed with dry, pulverized soil and then spread.

Plant at the proper depth. Again on the seed packet or label. But a good general rule to follow is to place the seed at a depth about four times the diameter of the seed. Cover small seeds such as carrots and lettuce with about an inch of soil. Place large seeds such as corn, beans, and peas 1 to 2 inches deep. In sandy soils or in dry weather, plant the seeds somewhat deeper.

Hill or drill the seed. “Hilling” is placing several seeds in one spot at definite intervals in the row. Sweet corn, squash, melons, and cucumbers are often planted this way. Hilling allows easier control of weeds between the hills of plants. “Drilling,” which is a way most seeds are sown, is spacing the seeds by hand or with a drill more or less evenly down the row.

Cover seeds and firm soil. Pack soil around the seeds by gently tamping the soil with your hands or an upright hoe. This will prevent rainwater from washing away the seeds.

Thin to a desirable number of plants when they are young. Remove the weakest plants. Do not wait too long before thinning or injury will result from crowding.

If you have questions about gardening please contact your local U of I Extension Office for the county where you reside. Someone will be able to get you some help through an employee of the extension or through a local Master Gardener.

Remember God started all in a garden; enjoy yours!!!!

Coming Up

The public and Master Gardeners, garden enthusiasts and landscapers are all cordially invited to the Unit 23 Spring Fling! Friday – April 10, from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Kaskaskia College – Agriculture Building, 27210 College Road, Centralia, IL 62801

Spring is almost here – let’s be ready so come join area gardens – and grow together. Master Gardeners will be available to answer your questions. Please register by April 1 at:

Classes: Straw Bale Gardening

* Landscaping for Wildlife

* Growing the Perfect Tomato & maintain a healthy plant

Clinton County MG Tom James will share some of his special photography with everyone – along with a few tips.

Master Gardener Scoop

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