The occasional warm days that occur during the cold, wet weeks of winter are sure signs that spring is approaching. In only a few weeks, it will be time to decide which vegetables to plant and which varieties to use.
Many seed marketers make various claims about their products. After looking through several catalogs or seed displays, you might get confused and be tempted to shut your eyes and grab one at random. Don't give up; you can make better decisions by getting information and studying the situation.
The first thing to consider is whether a particular variety is adapted to the Augusta area. Some varieties are adapted to one area and not another because of temperature tolerance, disease resistance or light requirements. Check with your local Extension Service office or garden center for adapted varieties for this area.
The quality and quantity of the fruit produced by the variety must also be considered. Certainly we should use only high-yielding varieties that produce quality fruit.
Also, some varieties produce several days or maybe a week or two earlier than others when planted at the same time. If early harvest is critical, consider this characteristic carefully.
Also, by selecting several varieties with different maturity dates, crops such as sweet corn and beans can be planted at the same time and have a harvest that extends over several weeks.
Evenness of maturity is also important. Some people like to spread out harvest time, while others might want the whole crop to mature simultaneously so that everything can be picked and canned or frozen at one time. This is particularly important in Southern peas, lima beans and snap beans.
In tomatoes, a determinate variety will provide tomatoes for four to six weeks, while an indeterminate variety will provide fruit all summer and fall if the plants are properly cared for.
Some vegetable varieties have resistance to certain diseases or nematodes. Choosing resistant varieties, when they're available, can help reduce spraying or maybe prevent vegetable loss.
When varieties meet all other qualifications and have disease resistance, you get a tremendous bonus. Clyde Lester is director of the Richmond County office of the University of Georgia Extension Service.
Can't tell a peony from a petunia? Does your lawn make you yawn? Do you need advice on the best way to get rid of fire ants? Send your home and gardening questions to the experts: University of Georgia Extension Service Agents Clyde Lester and Sid Mullis.
Mail your questions to Gardening Advice, The Augusta Chronicle, P.O. Box 1928, Augusta, GA 30903-1928. E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Selected questions will be answered in future columns.