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Library sessions to offer backyard planting tips to novice gardeners

MADISON – An upcoming workshop at Madison Public Library can alleviate the winter blues by planning a garden plot in your own back yard.

“Backyard Vegetable Gardening with a Master Gardener” will be conducted on Feb. 4 from 2 to 3:30 p.m. at the library. The event is free to attend and open to the public.

The presenter with Master Gardeners of North Alabama will explain the basic components that a person will need to start a vegetable garden in a back yard. Most gardeners will agree that the most important task, which people often overlook, is soil preparation to nurture seeds to germinate and grow or to transition transplants smoothly from containers to the soil medium.

Another key point is the garden plot’s location. Almost all vegetables need full sun to grow, ‘flower’ and produce the vegetable for consumption. A shady area just doesn’t give enough ‘fuel’ for plants to grow. In placing the plot, gardeners need to remember to have a water source (usually that backyard water hose) to give moisture during ‘dry spells’ in blistering Alabama summers.

The Master Gardener will explain the advantages of using raised beds instead of cultivating/tilling the soil. The raised bed can be a much better option in this area because the red clay concentration in North Alabama’s soil, which is challenging to give a porous, nutrient-rich base soil.

Participants will learn the types of plants that grow easily from seed, along with those that respond better with transplants that a plant nursery or big-box garden center sells.

Some of the cold-weather vegetables that gardeners can plant this month include carrots, Irish potatoes, lettuce, onions, English peas, kohlrabi and spinach.

In another gardening workshop, the library will open the “Newcomer & Beginner Brown-Bag Gardening Series” on Feb. 7 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. This series will be offered each Tuesday in February. Experts will explain the optimum gardening procedures for North Alabama. Participants are welcome to bring a brown-bag lunch.

During brown-bag sessions, participants will discuss soils, grasses and water management with Rhonda Britton, Regional Extension Agent for Madison County. Britton will offer pH testing at the workshop, so participants should bring 1/4 cup of dry soil for each location that needs testing.

Madison Public Library’s address is 142 Plaza Blvd. For more information, call 256-461-0046 or visit hmcpl.org.

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