If my voicemails and emails are any indication of the amount of gardening that’s going to occur this year, this year will definitely be all about vegetable gardening.
Most vegetables are simple to grow provided they are started the correct way. Many vegetables prefer to be directly sown in the garden as opposed to be started inside and then transplanted into the garden. The main key to starting these vegetables are determining whether they are warm season or cool season. Cool season vegetables prefer to be grown when the temperatures are cooler and can even handle a light frost. Warm season vegetables need warmer temperatures and cannot handle a frost. Generally, all warm season vegetables are planted after April 15. Be sure to watch the weather though because we have had a frost after April 15!
Some warm season vegetables that are sown directly into the garden include all squash, okra, beans, corn, pumpkins, watermelon, and cantaloupes. The general rule of thumb on all of these are 1-2” deep and be sure to space them appropriately according to the package. Since some vegetables are vining and some are bush type, spacing them can help eliminate problems down the road. The number one key to getting these seeds started in the garden is watering when needed. Most vegetables only need to be watered about an inch per week and our weather has done a great job of that this spring. I see more vegetables die from overwater than under watering. If you are using a sprinkler system, sit a couple of cups around the garden and see if you are getting more than one inch of water each week.
One other key to helping these young seedlings grow is keep the weeds at bay. Since many of us are working from home, now is a great time to make it a daily thing to just walk through the garden each evening and check on the weeds and your vegetables. By pulling a few weeds each night, they will not run all over you later in the season!
The common vegetables that prefer to be transplanted are tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant. If you haven’t started these transplants, you still have plenty of time. You can generally count four weeks from seeding to get the appropriate size transplant to put in your garden. I would encourage you to purchase any seeds and supplies that you may not have and there are plenty of options online for the purchase of any of these. This is also a great time to start seeds with your children because there is no better time to hook the youth onto gardening than now!
As always, if you have any questions regarding any horticulture facet, feel free to contact Lucas Holman, Horticulture UT-TSU Extension Agent, Wilson County at 615-444-9584 or Lholman1@utk.edu.