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Warm temps inspire spring gardening

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Everyone seems so excited about gardening with the onset of early warm weather. Flowers are blooming 2 to 3 weeks earlier this year. In the garden you can plant peas, onions, potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, spinach, kohlrabi, brussel sprouts, carrots, beets, radishes, and lettuce. Carole and I enjoyed our first harvest of asparagus, just the other day.

Most of these spring garden vegetables have many healthful benefits, antioxidants and phytochemicals that help fight against cancer and high blood pressure. Leafy green vegetables are one of the most nutrient dense foods available.

Leafy greens help control blood pressure, reduce the risk of cancer and reduce the risk of heart disease. They contain magnesium, iron, calcium, folate, and vitamins C and B6. Asparagus, leafy greens and broccoli are good sources of vitamin A. Vitamin A is needed for vision, normal growth, reproduction, and a healthy immune system.

Asparagus also contains folate works with other vitamins to form hemoglobin in red blood cells, which supplies oxygen to the body’s tissues.

Broccoli is also a great source of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) which plays a vital role in fighting infection, keeping gums healthy, and healing wounds. Just one serving of broccoli provides over 100 percent of our daily need for vitamin C. And, vitamin C, like vitamin A, is a disease-fighting antioxidant. I like to eat broccoli, cauliflower and carrots raw with ranch dressing. Broccoli is also a good source of fiber.

Research shows that individuals who eat diets that are high in fiber and low in fat have a lower risk of heart disease and certain cancers—good reason to try to eat broccoli at least once a week, especially when it is in season.

Now, I know the weather is warm and quite agreeable to most of us, but don’t jump the gun and start planting tomatoes and other summer vegetables too soon. There is still plenty of time for cold weather or a late season frost or freeze.

We typically push the weather envelope each year when it comes to transplanting tomatoes.

Everyone wants fresh garden tomatoes by July 4th! It is best to wait after danger of frost, usually May 10th, to transplant tomatoes. Tomatoes are a great source of vitamins A and C. Tomatoes also contain the carotenoids beta-carotene and lycopene which help reduce the risk of cancer and
heart disease. Lycopene gives the tomato its red color.

The University of Kentucky has produced a publication for the Home Gardener.  This publication covers planting, growing and caring for your garden. Contact our office if you would like a copy of the publication ID-128. You may stop in to pick one up, or we will be happy to mail one to you.

You are invited to join us at the Trimble County Cooperative Extension office for the 2012 Garden Series. The first session is Thursday, April 12, 6:30 p.m. featuring Jim Graves, leading a lesson on cheese making. April 17, 2012 at 6:30 p.m. will be a session on freezing and drying fruits and vegetables, and jerky making. The final session of the 2012 Garden Series is a day tour on April 25, 2012, to the Whole Foods Market in Louisville with a stop at Trader Joe’s. Lunch will be at Lynn’s Paradise Café. We plan to leave from the extension office at 8:30 a.m. on that morning.
Please call (502) 255-7188 if you are interested in any of the 2012 Garden Series sessions.

Michael Pyles is Trimble County’s Cooperative Extension agent for agriculture.