How does your garden grow?

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By Calen McKinney

Spring is in the air and the time for planting is approaching.

Johnny Orberson Sr., who works for his son, Johnny Jr., the owner of B&B Landscaping, says the majority of planting should be done between May and June.

However, he said, now is the time to begin planting frost-proof vegetables such as peas, onions, cabbage and cauliflower.

Though the month of April is upon us, Orberson said, it's still a bit early to plant vegetables such as beans, tomatoes and potatoes.

The time to plant those, he said, is around the first week of May, when the ground temperature will reach the mid 50s. If planted before then, he said, seeds might not germinate and could rot.

Rob Harris, owner of Harris Lawn & Lawncare Management, says since Kentucky's temperatures are usually not extreme, anytime would be an OK time to begin planting flowers and shrubs. Harris said he has sometimes planted even in December and January.

However, he said, many residents wait until the Kentucky Derby to begin their planting. Others, he said, wait until they see the early-blooming tulips die to begin setting out other flowers.

Harris said some others strictly follow the Farmer's Almanac and may plant their vegetables and flowers on the same day each year - regardless of the weather.

Orberson said many people plant their vegetables and flowers around the first week of May, the time when they won't likely see another frost until winter comes around again.

If plants or vegetable are planted too early, he said, residents are taking a chance that they will be killed by a late frost.

After spring, he said, warmer temperatures draw moisture out of the ground and gardeners will have to do lots of watering to keep their plants and vegetables alive and looking well.

Campbellsville residents Robert and Jane Fisher say they wait until around Derby Day to being their planting.

They are about to begin a landscaping project to remove two large trees and a few shrubs out of their front yard.

Mrs. Fisher says she and her husband enjoy keeping their yard mowed and sprayed and like to plant a few annual flowers each year.

Harris said people may believe a misconception about not planting flowers in the summer months because of the heat.

"You're going to have to water whenever you plant," he said.

Harris says people may not be able to purchase annual flowers until late April or early May, the time when temperatures usually reach and stay in the 70s.

This year, however, he said, residents have seen cooler temperatures and a lot of rain but he thinks this year will be better for plants than last.

Last year, Harris said, was the worst for his business in nearly 20 years.

Harris said many people will usually get a jump start on their flower planting when they see a few back-to-back days of nice weather.

"They just can't wait to go plant something," he said. "I'm the same way."

Those days might still be a while away, though, because this year's temperatures have been much cooler than last year's.

Harris says the current 10-day forecast calls for high temperatures in the 50s.

For a recent day, Harris said, the average temperature was 45 degrees. For the same day last year, the high was 82 degrees.

"The outlook for this year is a whole lot better."

Orberson agrees.

"I think we're gonna be all right this year," he said.

Last spring, he said, was a different story.

"Last year it warmed up in February," he said. "Things starting growing in April. Then it got down to 16 degrees and killed a lot of shrubs.

"That was really something different. I'm 64 years old and I've never seen that before."

He said those who plant flowers should remember to water them well and be sure to read where to plant them to ensure they get the necessary amount of sunlight. People should also watch for insects and be sure to prepare their dirt before planting, he said.

Right now, Orberson said, people should be applying fertilizer and other sprays to their lawns to prevent crabgrass from growing.

He said people should also expect to begin mowing within the next week.

"As soon as it warms up, you'll need to start mowing."

A common mistake Orberson said he sees is those who plant their seeds deeper than necessary. His rule of thumb is to never plant a seed more than 10 inches deeper than its diameter. For example, a 1/10 seed, he said, shouldn't be planted more than an inch deep.

Harris said a common mistake he sees is when residents cut their lawns too short. By doing this, he said, they think they might be able to mow less often.

However, he said, they are really damaging their yard because this lets more sunlight hit the grass and more moisture escape.

In turn, he said, this can cause residents to see more weeds and insects on their lawns.

Harris recommends that lawns should be kept fertilized and mowed so grass stands about 2 or 2 1/2 inches high.

For those looking to grow more grass, Harris says now is the time.

"Now until the first of May is a great time to sow grass."

The Fishers have already mowed their yard this year, Mrs. Fisher said, and were going to mow Friday but couldn't because of rain.

She said she enjoys planting and other yard work because it allows her to get out in the sunshine.

"I just enjoy seeing things grow," she said. "I just enjoy flowers."

- Staff Writer Calen McKinney can be reached at 465-8111 Ext. 235 or by e-mail at reporter@cknj.com. Comment on this story at www.cknj.com.