And the planting begins

It’s the second week of April, and local gardeners are hoping the winter weather is over as the 2013 planting season is moving in.

Marietta residents Teresa Efaw and Vonda Cassady took advantage of a warm-if windy-Sunday morning to plant some early seeds in their community garden plots off Hart Street, just behind the Food 4 Less supermarket.

“This is my fourth season working with the Harvest of Hope community garden,” said Efaw, 51. “We both live in town, and there’s no gardening space in our neighborhoods, so this is nice.”

Cassady, 54, agreed as she tied lengths of string to stakes at either end of the rows she’d just planted.

“Until the plants come up you need to know where the rows are,” she explained. “Today I’ve planted onions, beets, kale, and some lettuce.”

Both women had also worked in the garden Saturday, preparing the soil for planting.

“You have to till the ground first so it’s fine enough to plant, and add fertilizer,” Efaw said. “If you plant too soon in the season there can be a danger of frost damage to plants, but we’re planting seeds now, and by the time these plants come up there should be no risk of frost.”

She noted that planting and maintaining a garden takes some dedication.

“A lot of people don’t realize how much work it is-but it’s worth it,” Efaw said.

Master gardener Cindy Brown of Devola said it’s time to get ready for the planting season.

“Right now’s the time to prep garden beds by turning cover crops, if any were planted last fall,” she said. “This is the time to begin loosening the soil, too.”

Brown said tilling the ground for planting is OK, but it can be overdone, making the soil too soft for planting.

She said seeding for carrots, beets, onions, lettuce, peas and radishes should be done soon, but potato seeds should have already been planted last month.

“Sweet potatoes should not be planted until around May 15,” Brown added.

Other tasks for April may include placing mulch on garden pathways, setting out rain barrels for water storage, and putting finished compost on the garden.

“You also want to remove any weeds popping up in the garden as fast as they come up while the spring soil is loose,” Brown said.

Coordinator for the local Harvest of Hope Community Garden program, Brown said a few of the 30 garden beds are still available at the community garden on Hart Street.

“We have one or two ground-level beds and another two raised beds there,” she said. “That’s all we have available at this time, but we’re hoping to also have some table beds available later this year in our Harmar community garden off Gilman Avenue.”

Brown said how soon the Harmar garden will be ready depends on when lumber can be obtained to build the table beds that will provide better accessibility for older folks who would like to put in a garden.

Applications to participate in the community garden program may be picked up at the tool shed in the garden behind Food 4 Less on Hart Street. Brown said interested people may also call her at (740) 374-7357.

She said anyone is welcome to apply.

“People may think they can’t do this,” Brown said. “But one of the positives of a community garden is that all of these gardeners love to help one another by sharing information.”