By Rita Bricker
With the delightful, moderate weather we are experiencing this winter, I can imagine many of you are eager to get your vegetable gardens growing. The average last frost date in our neck of the woods is Feb. 6, and the growing season before the punishing heat sets in is relatively short, so now is a great time to exercise your green thumb.
IF YOU GO
What: Master Gardener Plant Sale
When: March 3, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Where: Maricopa Agricultural Center, 37860 W. Smith-Enke Road
Soil preparation is a key step to success in our area with its typically alkaline and often compacted soils. Around Maricopa, we very often deal with clay soil, which requires substantial amendment with compost and sometimes gypsum or even sulfur to get the right mix for optimal planting. If you have a previously used garden plot or are starting fresh, now is the time to dig in about a foot deep, turn the soil over, add those amendments and incorporate them throughout the loosened soil.
Next, inspect your watering system to ensure it is working properly. If it isn’t, make any needed repairs now before watering becomes critical.
Naturally, you can plant from seed if you are so inclined. Basil, beets, cucumbers, melons, green onions, radishes and squash can all be started from seed this time of year. You will need to follow the directions on the seed packets concerning planting depth and spacing. However, let me suggest an even better alternative to get your garden underway.
On Saturday, March 3, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the local Master Gardeners are holding their popular Spring Plant Sale at the Maricopa Agricultural Center. About 2,000 plants will be available for purchase. Plants were started in a greenhouse earlier in the year. There will be 20 kinds of tomatoes, including six varieties of cherry tomatoes, 10 varieties of peppers, two kinds of eggplant, three kinds of summer squash, four melon varieties, four kinds of cucumbers, tomatillos and a variety of herbs.
We will also have flowers, shrubs, cactus and agaves, and more for purchase. And the plants we offer are specifically grown for our locale to help you succeed in your gardening efforts.
This column appears in the February issue of InMaricopa. A typographical error in the phone number has been corrected.