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Horticulturalist provides tips to jumpstart National Gardening Month

Published: 04/16/2018 4:26PM
By: booner

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Dr. James E. Brown, professor and interim program leader of Fort Valley State University’s Agriculture and Natural Resources program, plants peppers at the school’s community garden located on campus.

April is National Gardening Month, and spring is usually the season when some people get the green thumb itch. In 2017, more than 117 million people involved themselves in gardening. 

Dr. James E. Brown, professor and interim program leader of agriculture and natural resources at Fort Valley State University, said a person can reap health and financial benefits when gardening is done effectively.

The veteran horticulturalist added that in addition to growing food, gardeners receive exercise while planting, pruning and harvesting their crops. “This is beneficial for the body by helping the gardener reduce weight, making them feel better,” Brown said.

Most gardening projects begin in early spring, but some crops grow better in warm seasons while others thrive during cooler seasons. Brown said these are key factors that determine the best time to plant.

The FVSU professor says some of the warm season crops in Georgia include watermelons, okra, bell peppers, tomatoes and cantaloupe. Early spring or the beginning of April is the best time to plant these. He said the best time to start planting a garden is after the last frost of the year, and the closer a gardener is to the equator, the sooner one can start planting warm season produce.  

“Most of your greens such as turnip, collards, mustards or cauliflower, are cool season crops.  In Georgia, you want to plant those in the early part of February or first or second part of March so they can fully mature before the hot weather sets in,” Brown said.

Brown suggests that before starting a garden, contact a local county Extension agent for advice. They can provide information on where to locate the garden, how to take soil samples and where to send them. Agents can also suggest what crops should be planted based on the garden’s soil and proper types and amounts of insecticide, fertilizer or lime.

Below are a few helpful gardening tips:

For more information about gardening, contact a FVSU county Extension agent at (https://bit.ly/2qs2CLe) or Brown at (478) 825-6296 (brownj01@fvsu.edu).