DAVIS: Purchasing transplants for the gardening season

Gardening season is almost upon us.

Historically, in our part of Kentucky, most garden vegetables can be safely planted after May 10 to May 15. Given our current weather pattern, gardeners should probably plan on planting the garden after May 15 this year.

If you like to garden, and are not growing your own transplants, you will have to purchase them.

Wherever you decide to purchase them, make sure you start with the best garden transplants possible. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you purchase transplants this year.

Make sure the transplants you purchase are good quality. High-quality transplants will not be too old. They will have good color. A light green tint is not necessarily a bad thing if the plants have been hardened off.

The leaves should appear normal. They should not be distorted or really thick in appearance. Especially with transplants from larger garden centers, leaves that are very thick and slightly distorted could have been over-treated with a plant-growth regulator. If this is the case, it may take your plants longer to start growing in the garden.

The essential characteristic of high-quality transplants is that they be disease free. Thoroughly inspect them for diseases. The last thing you want to do is to infect your garden with diseased transplants.

Variety selection is important as well when purchasing transplants. Not all varieties are the same.

Look at the labels on the plants in the garden center to see the variety names. Write them down, and before you purchase them, do a little research to see their disease resistance characteristics. Or even better, know varieties you want to purchase before you go shopping.

Don’t forget the FFA plant sale is going on at George Rogers Clark High School. The greenhouse is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. They will also have extended hours May 5 and May 12 from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m.

Another source of unique varieties of garden transplants will be the Winchester-Clark County Farmers’ Market, located on Depot Street.

WCCFM will be opening for the season starting Saturday, May 12. The market will only be open Saturdays for a while. Several of the farmers grow extra transplants of many of the varieties they are producing on their farms. This is a great way to get some of the same varieties that they are growing.

If you would like more information on purchasing high quality transplants, or have other gardening questions, feel free to contact me at the Clark County Extension Service by calling 744-4682 or you can email me  at david.davis@uky.edu.

David Davis is the Clark County Cooperative Extension Service agent for agriculture and natural resources.