More and more people are starting to garden in Louisiana and across the nation during this unprecedented time of the coronavirus.
Gardening questions are coming in left and right to the LSU AgCenter Extension Service. And boy, does it feel good to be so needed.
A similar thing happened during World Wars I and II; people all over the world began growing what were called “victory gardens.” They were also called war gardens or food gardens for defense.
During this time of uncertainty, some people have started growing fruits and vegetables in anticipation of food scarcity. They are buying seeds and vegetable transplants and having plants delivered to their homes — online shopping is at an unprecedented high.
Nurseries and big retailers that offer garden supplies along with co-ops are still open for business so you can pick up supplies. Many are offering curbside service for additional security during this time.
As luck would have it, this is the best time of year to get those vegetable gardens going. The folks at local garden stores and co-ops say vegetable crops, edibles, seeds, garden soils, mulch, fertilizers, insecticides, herbicides and all support supplies are flying off the shelves.
According to AgCenter vegetable specialist Kiki Fontenot, here's what you should be planting this month:
Plant snap bean and butter beans. Butter beans or lima beans require a little more heat to germinate and grow nicely, so April is a great month to get them growing.
Radishes, collards, cucumbers, eggplants, cantaloupes, okra, Southern peas (field peas), peanuts, pumpkins, winter squash, summer squash, sweet corn, sweet potatoes (late April), tomatoes (transplants), peppers (transplants) and watermelons are also great to be planted this month.
Like butter beans, okra really needs warm soil to germinate, so you may need to wait until the middle of the month or even later. Warm weather, like the type we are experiencing, is key for good okra germination. You can also soak okra seed for a few hours in water or scratch the surface with sandpaper to help with germination.
Do not plant cool-season crops such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, greens, lettuce, kale, etc. They will not survive the hot weather to come.
Keep your plants watered and fertilized so they will be more productive and healthy. Healthy plants can withstand insect and disease pressures and will require less pesticides or chemicals.
You can reach out to the AgCenter extension service for support during this time. Stay safe and healthy.