Though the weather is still a little cool, the 15-day forecast indicates we may be done with frost. Of course, this is Louisiana and the weather changes every 20 minutes, but it doesn’t look like any more frosts are anticipated.
So let’s start thinking about planting.
If you had a vegetable garden last spring, get out your journal and take a look at your notes and records. Which crop varieties did you plant last year performed well? Which varieties struggled? Use this information to make a decision about what to plant this year. If you have not purchased your seeds or spring transplants, this is the time.
Vegetable are typically divided into two categories based on how they’re planted. Some vegetables — usually root crops and inexpensive seed crops — can be directly sown into the garden. Others should get their start in a pot and then be transplanted into the garden.
In March, you can directly sow cantaloupe, collards, corn, cucumbers, lima beans, mustards, radishes, snap beans, Southern peas, summer squash, Swiss chard, watermelons and winter squash.
Those that should be transplanted include eggplant, kohlrabi, peppers and tomatoes. You can produce your own transplants by planting seed into small plastic nursery pots. These seeds should be started six to eight weeks before the plants are supposed to go into the ground. Of course, you can also get vegetable transplants at local nurseries.
Before planting any vegetables in the garden, be sure to add your preplant fertilizer. Vegetables are classified as light feeders, requiring two to four pounds of 8-8-8 fertilizer per 100 to 300 square feet; medium feeders, requiring four to six pounds of 8-8-8 fertilizer per 100 to 300 square feet or heavy feeders, requiring six to eight pounds of 8-8-8 fertilizer per 100 to 300 square feet. To determine how much to feed each crop, look at the “Louisiana Vegetable Planting Guide” publication 1980 at LSUAgCenter.com.
After prepping and planting your vegetable garden, be sure to apply 2 to 3 inches of mulch. Live oaks typically drop leaves in February and March, so consider using those or other leaves to mulch your garden as a cheap alternative to purchasing mulch.
Like anything in life, you will only get out what you put in. Vegetable gardening is no different. You must plan and prepare to get a worthwhile reward. But, most importantly, don’t forget to have a little fun as you work toward your delicious reward.