As we get some sunny days and “false spring”, one of the first things on my mind is helping clients get ready to reach their gardening goals for the year. While it’s only February, some components of a successful garden take a bit of prep, planning, and time to get right.

            First and foremost, now is the time to soil test! Whether you’re planting in a commercial soil mixture or our Lincoln County ground, you need to know the nutrition status of your soil long before planting. By soil testing now, we can apply the proper amounts of lime to get soil pH corrected, and build a plan for correcting our soil fertility. Correcting your soil pH and fertility is the first step in ensuring the growth and health of your plants.

            After you’ve soil tested and made your amendments, you’ll want to start planning exactly what you want to produce. Most food crops have a wide range of planting dates that can be as early as mid-January. It’s important that you do some research to determine when you need to plant your desired crop and how long it takes for that crop to mature or be harvest-ready. If you need seeds, we recommend checking out the Seed Swap Bank over at the Lincoln County Library!

Some plants can be directly seeded into your garden, but other plants need a head start on growing. For these plants, such as tomatoes and peppers, we recommend growing transplants. Transplants are simply a plant you grow from seed in your house under ideal conditions during late winter until they’re mature enough to be moved out into your garden later in the season. Transplants can take 6-8 weeks of growth prior to being moved outside, so be sure to start them early enough for your ideal planting date. Before you plant your transplants in the ground, be sure to place them outside in a sheltered place for a few days ahead of time for a process called hardening-off. Another option is to purchase transplants or immature plants from friends or your local feed and seed store. This can help reduce some of the challenges with very young seedlings such as damping off or improper conditions.

Another thing to consider is if you had a garden in the past, you’ll want to implement a crop rotation. All this means not planting the same crop in the same location. Rotating your crops can help reduce some disease and pest issues that occur in specific species. If you had any growing challenges last year, it’s a good time to call our office to figure out what might have been going on and how to prevent it for this season.

For those interested, we are hosting a three-part Tomato Growing Class on February 10th, April 6th, and June 22nd at 9AM at the Lincoln County Agricultural Center at 2080 Rowland York Rd, Lincolnton GA. The program is $10 per session or $25 for all 3. Call our office at 706-359-3233 to register or email me at We hope to see you there.

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