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Follow the Preachers advice on gardening
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"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted." These words were spoken and recorded many centuries ago by one referred to as the Preacher. Of course, they are found in the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes.

For those of you who think maybe you have stumbled on the wrong column, please stay with me for a few more lines. As much as I would like to wax on concerning the spiritual side of the old preacher's proclamation, there are at least two reasons that I shouldn't.

The number one reason is there are many far more qualified to handle Biblical teachings than I am.

Secondly, this is supposed to be a horticultural column and there is enough common sense concerning horticulture in theses two verses for me to stick with a topic that I actually know something about.

"A time to plant and a time to pluck up that which has been planted." I could and should have used that phrase many times during my career as a county agent. I can recall numerous phone calls and office visits when anxious gardeners were asking for my blessing on their plans to plant warm weather annual flowers or summer vegetables in mid-March.

Oh, there had been several days of warm weather and the would-be planter was all fired up about digging in the dirt or was excited about the chance to be first in his neighborhood to eat a home-grown tomato sandwich. "To every thing there is a season."

There is a flip side to the over zealous gardener.

There are some who try to plant every vegetable on the same day. While planting pole beans and broccoli at the same time might be convenient, it often brings erratic results. I discovered this as a young gardener many years ago. The last day of March in 1974 was my designated date for planting.

Because I was 150 miles south of Gainesville, most of my garden fared quite well with my selected date, however, there was at least one extremely unhappy vegetable. Broccoli may be great with cheese but it dislikes the month of June in South Georgia. My beautiful, healthy plants set a few heads and as the temperature reached the upper eighties, the plants began to bolt. The season for plucking broccoli came to a screeching halt. There is a time to plant, and the time for planting broccoli should have been several weeks before March 31.

While a garden planting chart can be helpful in determining when to plant, a simple check of soil temperature can also give great insight. Warm weather seed will not germinate well in cool soil.

Be careful when using generic planting charts.

Unless otherwise specified, most of Georgia's charts are for the middle part of the state. Northeast Georgia's climate generally dictates that we should plant two weeks later than middle Georgia growers.

Warm season crops like bush and pole beans, lima beans, cucumbers, bush squash, southern peas, pepper, and tomatoes should be planted between April 15 and May 15. Okra prefers to be planted in late April or May.

Cool season crops like asparagus, beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, collards and turnips need to be planted in February or early March.

I suppose the moral of this article, if there is one, can be summed up in a few words. Remember what the preacher said even when it comes to planting.

"To every thing there is a season. ... a time to plant, and a time to pluck that which is planted."

If a humble county agent might add to what the great preacher said, the gardener who does his research and plants during the right season shall surely pluck more than he who plants at the wrong time.

Gene Anderson is the interim Hall County extension coordinator. Phone: 770-531-6988. Fax: 770-531-3994. E-mail genea@uga.edu.

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