Gibson Priest

Gibson Priest

New year’s resolutions are coming up and with everything going on in the news, why not take a moment to check out for a bit and do some work outside.

Now is a great time to start thinking of a garden spot for the spring. What better way to unwind form stressful situations then do something outside that can better your health not only from an activity standpoint but also by supplying your family with homegrown vegetables?

The air is cool, the grass is short and the soil is moist, allowing you to decide where to put a garden on your property. If you already have a spot, now is a great time to start collecting soil samples to see what your canvas has or needs.

Soil samples can be collected any time of the year but preferably when the soil is somewhat dry. The sample can be brought into our office and we will send a group off each week to the lab in Athens. These samples allow you to see what the soil has or lacks that the plants you plan to grow will need.

Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium, pH and other minerals are all shown on the test results along with specific fertilizer recommendations for the crop/vegetable that you plan on growing. Make sure to get samples from all areas that you plan to plant as soil types can be different and nutrients can vary.

Tilling the garden area is a good idea so that you can incorporate potting mix or fertilizer into the soil and be ready for spring planting. However, I do not recommend using hay or straw as these can have herbicide residue from the growing stage that will have a lasting, negative affect on your garden.

If you already have a garden spot from previous years, now is a good time to remove any crop/vegetable stubble that has been left over as these can harbor bacteria and disease that will transmit to your new crop.

Always make sure and have a cover crop on your garden over winter so that weeds are not able to take hold and that you do not loose valuable topsoil from erosion. Wheat and Rye are forages that do well in the winter and can even offer aesthetics to your property, these can be plowed under to add organic matter to the soil.

If you have any questions regarding soil or garden management, you are welcome to contact the extension office at 770-749-2142 or email

For more information and details on upcoming events, check out the Polk County Extension office on Facebook by searching “UGA Extension Polk County.”

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