Don’t be in a hurry to plant those veggies

Although winter decided to throw a last gasp – and for this year its only real gasp – just a week before the changing of the seasons, spring fever is here for many folks.

And that includes wanting to get out in the garden. After all, the Bradford pears and the cherry trees have bloomed ahead of schedule, and the daffodils and crocuses have long since shot up.

But, it’s important not to get in too big of a hurry, at least when it comes to planting flowers, said Janet Heishman, who along with her husband Ron owns Pot Town Organics, at 181 W. King St., Strasburg, and Gabalot Gardens/Cedar Hill Gardens, 373 Green Acre Drive, just south of Strasburg.

“People get real antsy,” she said. “They want to do something. Just don’t get in a hurry. This weather needs to moderate out. Getting things in [the ground] early doesn’t always ensure you’re going to be the first one to get anything.”

Someone planting in June could have just as much yield as someone planting in April, said Heishman, standing in one of the greenhouses that make up Gabalot Gardens/Cedar Hill Gardens. Besides vegetables, the nursery grows flowers, herbs, and even succulents and cacti.

The Heishmans have had the nursery for 21 years. Pot Town Organics opened three years ago, her husband said. There, customers can buy organic fertilizer, pest control, potting soil, canning products, seeds, lighting, hydroponic gardening supplies and more.

Janet Heishman said the first steps to starting a garden involve getting your hands dirty.

“You should be working the soil,” she said. “You should be adding some lime and some compost right now.”

Lime reduces the acidity of soil, which will help nutrients from the soil better reach the plant, according to gardeningknowhow.com.

Soil testing to check the pH of the soil won’t hurt, according to Heishman, but, “if it’s a vegetable garden, every single year you should be putting [in] compost and lime.”

It’s also fine to till your soil when composting and adding lime, she said.

And, that’s all that’s necessary before adding seed, according to Heishman. Well, that and to “hope the weather’s good.”

Mid-March is a good time to plant tomatoes, Heishman said.

“If you plant them too soon, they’re going to be real leggy and tall,” she said. “After you get the tilling and everything done, you can start putting in peas, onions, probably some kale and lettuce.

“Some people try to get their potatoes out, but I’m a believer you should wait until April.”

For herb gardens, she doesn’t recommend using much compost, but said lime can be put in the soil.

And, for those looking to start a flower garden, there’s not much difference preparation-wise to a vegetable garden, Heishman said. But, she recommends waiting a little longer, noting the final frost date is normally around May 15.

“So, we’ve got a long way to go,” she said.

Nothing tender should be planted while there’s still a chance of frost, according to Heishman.

“I think if people would just do steps, put the lime in and put the compost [in], they would be much more successful,” she said.