Now is the time to browse seed catalogs, select your favorites and plant seeds to grow transplants for summer's garden.
Adventurous gardeners may want to try plants with improved characteristics like disease and drought tolerance, greater yield potential or other unique qualities.
Starting seeds indoors and growing transplants allows home gardeners to try some new varieties that are not available at local garden centers. Check catalogs produced by seed companies and try some new vegetable varieties that are easy to grow and mature quickly.
Don't be lured by pretty pictures
Don't be lured by pictures of new and different plants. Make sure the varieties you select are well adapted to the climate in your area. It is also wise to get advice from other gardeners about plants that do particularly well or have shown poor performance.
To be successful, plant seeds and transplants at the right time to promote vigorous growth, minimize stress and reduce susceptibility to attack by insects and diseases. Check with your local University of Georgia Extension agent for tips on when the soil in your garden is warm enough for precious new plants and seeds to grow.
Try heirloom varieties
Consider trying a few heirloom varieties, plants that were once staples your parents' and grandparents' gardens. Some heirloom vegetables have outstanding flavor and nutritional quality. Many heirloom types are also tolerant to a broad range of environmental stresses, like drought, and offer a broad resistance to pests.
For more information on planting a vegetable garden, contact your local University of Georgia Extension office at 1-800-ASK-UGA1 or go to extension.uga.edu/publications/.
(Stephen Garton is a retired University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Coordinator who was based in Forsyth County.)