Patience is a virtue, even for gardeners

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By Cheryl Steenerson

Patience. I’m pretty sure that’s what we all need right now.
It is the middle of April and while a decade into our future we may be planting at this date, climate change has not taken us there yet.
Our typical planting date here is right around Derby day. That does not mean that you can just sit around and wait.
You need to decide what kind of vegetables that you want to plant and where in the garden you will plant them. A difference in varieties can mean a 20-day difference in when you eat your harvest. If we go into a drought this year, that means 20 more days of watering and weeding and watching for pests.
The No. 1 garden vegetable grown is the tomato and beans come in second. I like to grow several varieties of tomatoes like Liberty, Purple Cherokee, Mar-globe, German Pinks and a few others. They ripen at different times so it keeps the shelves stocked, so to speak.
I grow both bush and pole beans, again, to keep the shelves stocked and to coincide with canning times. I don’t have time to can until August, so I make sure I have bushels to be picked around then.
So, let’s talk beans.
Bush beans stand erect without support and are typically called snap beans and take around 58 days from seed to harvest. Pole beans must grow up something and may have fibers. We call them strings that have to be “unzipped” from the bean when you’re breaking into the bowl. Pole beans take about 65 days from seed to harvest.
Some good varieties for bush beans are Blue Lake, Wonder, and Derby. Pole bean varieties include Blue Lake Pole and Wonder Pole. I love my Pole Romas, also known as Italian flat snap bean.
When planting beans, put the seeds one inch into the ground. Space the bush variety seeds 4 inches apart and 18 inches between rows. I plant my pole beans 1 inch apart and they grow up a fence type trellis.
Cucumbers also come in the bush or climbing variety. Some folks let the climbing variety just lay on the ground without trellising. You can. However, the leaves get pretty thick and can hide the cukes as well as a slithering friend who enjoys the cool of the shade.
Cukes, beans and tomatoes are very sensitive to frost and cold soil. So please, wait to plant these outside unless you have a grow space in the ground, inside a greenhouse. You also need to wait to plant your squash, peppers, eggplant and corn seeds.
You can get radishes, potatoes, onions, carrots, kale, lettuce, spinach, peas, broccoli and cauliflower going this week, if you have your soil worked. Remember to never work wet soil. Another tip, don’t fertilize until the plant has been in the ground for a week or so.
Don’t forget that you can “borrow” seeds from the library. Even though I’m no longer there, I did leave the seed library in place (and growing) in the hands of Paula Mullins, master gardener. It’s located inside the History Room of the library.
Now, get out there and see what needs to be done. The temps are climbing and that means you’ll soon be crawling around in the dirt. If you haven’t been exercising regularly, get at it. You don’t want to be smiling with an aching back. Just smiling is better. Happy growing.

Cheryl Steenerson is the gardening columnist for The Anderson News. Reach her via e-mail at paysteen@shelbybb.net.