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  • Writer's pictureAutumn Shultz

Spring Planting Tips

Updated: May 4, 2021

You may have already had great success growing your favorite vegetables in your home garden, but if you’re like many gardeners you may have had some not-so-great experiences. And if you’re like me, you’ve had some downright failures. But I like to chalk those up to “learning opportunities” and move on!

Here are some spring planting tips to get things started:

  • Average Last Day of Frost is April 15-20 in Tennessee (zone 7). So anything planted before that will need to be covered if a frost happens.

  • Freeze Kills! Frost can damage unprotected plants, but a freeze can kill even covered tender plants. So beware of planting summer crops before the end of April.

  • Cool Season Crops will thrive when planted as early as March 1st - just watch for frost: Beets, Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Kale, Lettuce, Onions, Peas, Potatoes, Radishes and Spinach will all do very well in colder temps but then start to struggle as the season gets hot.

  • Root vegetables (radishes, beets, carrots, turnips, rutabagas, potatoes and parsnips) prefer soil to be well draining with plenty of organic matter (compost) added. Be sure to follow package instructions for thinning the plantings to ensure each root has plenty of room to develop.

  • Plan to plant again in the Fall In Tennessee, many of our cool season spring vegetables can produce in the fall as well for double the harvest! Our average first day of frost in the fall is November 15, so you'll want to start fall plantings in September when weather cools.

  • "Feed Your Soil" When planting in raised beds several years in a row, it's important to "feed your soil" in order to keep it healthy and avoid a drop off in harvest. Do this by adding compost each season to boost the nutrients in your soil.

  • Store root vegetables in a cool dry place away from each other. Storing potatoes with onions will cause them to sprout faster.

  • Don't get bitter Water lettuce and other leafy greens regularly - allowing them to dry out will cause a bitter taste. Harvest leafy greens before the season heats up, and store them in a jar of water to retain freshness.

For more info on planting, or other gardening questions, visit UT Extension online for Warm Season and Cool Season Home Gardening publications. Also talk with a farmer at farmer's market - or visit your local community garden and share your gardening experiences. Happy Gardening!

- Autumn Shultz

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