East Texas gardening experts: Hold off on planting that spring g - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

East Texas gardening experts: Hold off on planting that spring garden

Jared Barnes samples fresh picked spinach, a winter vegetable grown at the garden. (Source: KTRE Staff) Jared Barnes samples fresh picked spinach, a winter vegetable grown at the garden. (Source: KTRE Staff)
Barnes warns gardeners not to rush the spring season and enjoy the last few weeks of winter veggies. (Source: KTRE Staff) Barnes warns gardeners not to rush the spring season and enjoy the last few weeks of winter veggies. (Source: KTRE Staff)
Source: KTRE Staff Source: KTRE Staff
SFA’s Sprout is a garden providing lessons for both students and the community. (Source: KTRE Staff) SFA’s Sprout is a garden providing lessons for both students and the community. (Source: KTRE Staff)
NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) -

These pretty days, particularly when it's little bit warmer, tease East Texans into getting a head start on their vegetable gardens.

On Thursday, East Texas News sought the advice of experts on how gardeners can avoid costly and time consuming mistakes.

"What we're going to be doing out here is planting lettuce,” Jared Barnes, an associate professor of horticulture at Stephen F. Austin State University, said to his students.

Barnes is quickly gaining a reputation for successfully guiding gardeners to producing a healthy bounty of fresh vegetables.

Jared Barnes is SFA's newest horticulture faculty member and quickly gaining a reputation for successfully guiding gardeners to producing a healthy bounty of fresh vegetables.

Barnes oversees Sprout, a garden for tangible growth for plants, students, and the community. This time of year, the lesson is not to rush the season. Enjoy winter vegetables like kale and chard for as long as the cool weather will allow.

“Very beautiful,” Barnes said. “Very colorful. You see we've got some beautiful spinach growing under here.”

Barnes knows the biggest mistake gardeners make is rushing into the spring planting season.

“They want to be careful and not go in and start planting tomatoes and watermelons,” Barnes said. “It's still way too cold for that. The soil hasn't warmed up yet."

Texas Agrilife Extension Agent Ricky Thompson said he agrees.

“There will be a few warm days where people will be wanting to get out in the garden and start putting in those early crops, but here in Texas we are always due for a late frost, Thompson said.

Sprout gardeners will just pull up the covers when that happens. Barnes and other experts will share gardening tips at next week's East Texas Fruit and Garden conference.

“I just tell gardeners to keep growing,” Barnes said. “To keep trying, keep experimenting, keep learning."

Which may help gardeners avoid some costly mistakes before spring arrives.

Friday is the last day of early registration for the fruit and veggie conference. It will be Tuesday, Feb. 24 at the Nacogdoches Exposition Center from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The cost is $30 a person or $50 per couple. The fees will each be $5 higher after Friday. Lunch will be included in the cost of registration.

Registration for college students is $10 per person with a current student ID. The fee will be waived for students who don't want lunch. There will be no refund for cancellations.

To register, call the Nacogdoches County Extension Office at ((36) 560-7711. Pre-registration may be mailed to the County Extension Office at 203 West Main, Nacogdoches, TX 75961. Checks need to be made payable to Nacogdoches Master Gardener Association.

Also Sprout will conduct a community vegetable sale from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the SFA Head House located behind the agriculture building on the SFA campus.

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