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Timing Essential to Spring Planting

April 18, 2013
By DANIEL DORSCH - Staff Writer , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

Fred Holub has been in the planting business for more than 50 years, operating Holub Farm and Greenhouse in St. Clairsville.

"A smart gardener knows when to plant," Holub said during a recent tour. According to Holub, the warmer temperatures in April do not always mean it is time to plant. He said the temperature can drop, frost can form and even snow can fall during the month.

"Around here, May 15 is supposed to be our 'frost-free day,'" Holub said. "Our busiest day used to be Memorial Day but now we get a lot of people before that." He said people sometimes get impatient after a lengthy winter and a lot of them now use Mother's Day as the starting point of planting season.

Article Photos

Fred Holub of Holub Farm and Greenhouse holds up tomato plants planted by St. Clairsville Elementary School first graders during a tour.

Photo by Daniel Dorsch

Linda Bierce of the Marshall County Co-op in Moundsville said there are actually a variety of plants perfectly suited for spring and fall weather, called "cold crops." These include broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, kale, lettuce and certain other vegetables.

"Cold crops, they like to be cool," Bierce said on Tuesday. "You can plant those in early spring and in the fall. It's not a good time for flowers yet, unless they are kept inside or on covered porches." The important thing, Bierce said, is to protect flowers from frost.

Both Holub and Bierce said using the right soil is another important step in planting and now is a good time to start working on soil in the garden or planter.

Bierce said soil in the local area tends to contain a lot of clay, which can impede planting efforts without the proper treatment.

"You just have to amend it," Bierce said. "Some people use gypsum, cow manure, top soil or good garden soil. It breaks up the clay and makes it easy to plant in." She said early spring is a good time to start tilling up soil for planting.

Holub actually makes his own dirt using natural materials, which he said shows in the high quality and healthy plants it produces. He also said spring water or rain water are best for watering plants, since they contain fewer chemicals. He said he noticed a lot of people using rain barrels again to catch rainwater for watering, a practice he praised.

"It helps you by using natural water and it can also save a lot of runoffs during storms," Holub said.

Once the temperature rises and stays warm, Holub and Bierce both said people can grow almost anything in the Ohio Valley. Tomatoes remain a popular crop in the area, according to Holub, though Bierce added these need to be closely watched for blight and insects.

Bierce keeps her own garden at home, which she said is able to yield almost every sort of plant.

Holub said container planting is on the rise now, which he said is not a bad thing at all.

"You can yield much from a small plot," Holub said. "I've been seeing more flowers grown in containers than in flower beds. There are a lot of options for planters here."

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