Time for Spring Gardening

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SPARKS, Nev. -- Northern Nevada's dry terrain and unpredictable climate can pose challenges when it comes to gardening, but experts at Rail City Garden Center discuss what crops you can start planting now.

The time-honored myth in Nevada says to wait until the snow disappears from Peavine Mountain before you can start planting. Even though there is still snow visible, you may be surprised to see garden nurseries around town getting busier this week.

Gardeners all over Northern Nevada are itching to get back to their flowerbeds, despite Nevada's unpredictable weather.

For those who are skeptical, Rail City Garden Center gardening expert Paul Hollis says there are ways to plant around the inevitable cold snaps.

"Right now is when a majority of your crops need to be in the ground and that would include cabbage, lettuce, carrots onions broccoli, chard--these things all grow in frosty weather," he said. "They like frost, so they need to be underground to produce crop, but they do better if they get nighttime crop, down to about 24 degrees."

With most root crops, you can plant them outside right now. But for tomatoes, you have to leave them indoors for 6 to 8 weeks before you can plant them outside, protected under a water curtain.

If it's your first time gardening, Hollis says the easiest and cheapest plants to start with are tomatoes.

"Everything's pushing. The summer's here; we're getting warmer temperatures; we're getting longer day lengths; things want to grow," Hollis said.

Usually, Northern Nevada's last frost day is around May 1 and won't return until the first week of October, which Hollis says is the perfect time to grow crops.

"We have a short growing season. It's 100 days of growing season so we want to get a lot of things in the ground, get harvesting, get them growing and eat them."

It's still a little too cold for pests to come out so your crops will last a little longer.

"Some people think that Nevada is such a food desert, you know that we don't have any good places to grow things and that's just not true at all," Sheila Hlubucek, avid gardener said. "There are just so many things you can grow and it's just a good thing to teach your children too."