Spring has sprung, and everyone is looking for an excuse to get outside.
Vegetable gardening presents a unique opportunity for enjoyable outdoor recreation that also produces nutritious food.
“It gets people involved outside and allows people to be productive citizens,” said Jason Bagwell, chairman of the horticulture department at Spartanburg Community College.
Bagwell said community gardens are frequently used at elementary schools to teach responsibility and at senior centers as a means of physical and psychological therapy.
“Plus, you grow your own food and know exactly where it's coming from,” he said.
With the proper soil preparation, South Carolina is ideal for recreational gardening, Bagwell said. The region offers long growing seasons and environmental conditions optimal for growing most vegetables.
“There's only a very few that are difficult — like celery,” he said.
Bagwell urged gardeners, especially local gardeners, to utilize the Upstate's array of small gardening centers where employees are familiar with local growing conditions and plants and can offer assistance.
Often, the small garden centers offer more diverse resources specifically tailored to this region, Bagwell said.
The time to plant several vegetables for spring and early summer harvest has already passed, but here's how you can make the most of the rest of the gardening season:
Last chance to plant cantaloupe, honeydew, cucumbers, eggplant, okra, squash and lima beans
The gardening cycle starts over for several plants in the summer, and a few begin their growing season
Plant festive pumpkins for cooking, crafts and décor this fall.
Start planting cantaloupes and honeydews for a second round of fresh fruit, and this is a good time to plant okra. This is also your last chance to plant pumpkins.
Last chance to plant watermelons, cantaloupes and honeydews and okra.
Begin planting broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, collards, cucumbers, eggplant, summer squash and turnips.
Begin planting beans, Brussels sprouts, and tomatoes. Note, the season for planting tomatoes is short, so be sure to plant them on time. Last chance to plant cauliflower, cucumber, eggplant, squash and turnips.
Last chance to plant broccoli, cabbage and carrots.
Start planting kale and lettuce. Lettuce has a short planting season, so be sure to plant on time. Last chance to plant beans and Brussels sprouts.
Last chance to plant collards.
Start planting spinach. Finish planting kale.
Last chance to plant spinach. This is also the time to plant winter ground cover plants like red clover or alfalfa that will lock in soil nutrients for the spring growing season.