At the end of January, Extension Master Gardeners' Volunteer Audrey Williams and her fellow volunteers planted onion sets and super sugar snap peas in the demonstration garden at the Craven County Agricultural Building. The peas were planted at the base of two large tomato cages, and the onion sets were covered with a thick layer of hay mulch so as to reduce weed pressure later on.
English peas are also recommended for this time of year, with potatoes to be planted soon thereafter. Williams states that potato seed (sections of tuber with “eyes”, or lateral stem buds) should be available by the coming week. According to NC State’s Vegetable Gardening Guide for Eastern North Carolina (look for it on line or contact our office for a copy), potatoes can be planted from February 15 through March 31. So next week will be somewhat on the early side. Williams says that cold and wet soils can be a problem with early planting of potatoes, but that dusting with wettable sulfur can reduce the risk. Another option is to buy the seed early and pre-sprout them in a cool and dry place such as the garage. Just be careful when planting so that the sprouts aren’t knocked off.
Curly kale, which was planted this past fall, is one of the most impressive crops in the demonstration garden as of this week. A new round of kale could be planted just as soon as starts are available from local garden centers. When the kale has grown up to harvestable size, Williams suggests extending the harvest time by picking just the outer leaves, and allowing the centers to continue to grow.
According to specialists at NC State, kale is one of the healthiest vegetables you can eat. One serving is low in calories, but loaded with vitamins and minerals, including 200% of our daily Vitamin C requirement.
While recent temperatures should give our vegetable gardens a boost, warm weather and pruning are not a good combination this early in the year. In the Craven County area, pruning of woody plants, including grape vines and fruit trees, should be delayed until late February or early March. One reason is that early pruning leaves wounds exposed for a longer period of time before the growing season begins. This results in delayed compartmentalization of wounds, and more opportunity for decay pathogens. Pruning too early can also diminish cold hardiness, especially when the accompanying weather is as warm as it was this past week. This increases the likelihood of damage when cold weather does return.
If you’d like to learn more about pruning trees and shrubs, consider attending one of our upcoming pruning workshops at the Craven County Agricultural Building. We’ll meet from 10 AM to noon on Tuesday February 12 and Saturday February 16. There is no charge for these events, and no need to preregister. Call us at 633-1477 if there are questions, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.