In Louisiana, every month of the year provides an opportunity to plant some kind of vegetable. People often think about planting a vegetable garden in the spring, but if you wait until March or April, you will have missed the window for planting some of our cool-season veggies during the first half of the year. Many vegetables can be planted between mid-January and the end of February.
White, or “Irish” (they’re actually from South America), potatoes are an example. To plant potatoes, prepare soil so that it will drain well. If needed, form raised rows or plant them in a raised bed.
Cut seed potatoes into pieces about the size of an egg a few days to one week before planting. Pieces need to have at least one “eye” and may have more. Leave them in a dark, cool, and well-ventilated place until you get ready to plant.
Variety selection will depend in part on what you can find locally, but some to consider are Red LaSoda, La Rouge, LaChipper, Kennebec, and Yukon Gold. Potatoes sold in the grocery store are likely to have been treated with a sprout inhibitor, so don’t count on being able to grow potatoes from ones you buy there.
Another vegetable to plant soon is the green or edible podded pea. Try to get these planted by the end of January.
Suggested varieties of edible-podded sugar snap peas include Sugar Snap and Sugar Ann. If you’d like a snow pea, Oregon Sugar Pod II is an option. Mr. Big and Novella II are traditional garden peas that are shelled before eating.
Green and edible podded peas are sensitive to soil pH, needing soil that is neither too acidic nor too basic. A pH between 5.8 and 6.5 is recommended. While you don’t have much time to get a soil test at this point and still plant by the end of January, if you have problems growing peas, this is something to check in the future.
If you want to have the pleasure of pulling a carrot this spring, try to plant seeds by the end of February. Varieties to consider include Sugar Snax, Maverick, Enterprise, or Danvers 126 (orange); Yellow Bunch; and Deep Purple. Prepare soil well so that roots can grow without obstruction.
Other vegetables that you can plant soon include beets, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, greens (turnips, mustards, collards, and kale), lettuce, and shallots.
Let me know if you have questions.
Dr. Mary Helen Ferguson is an Extension Agent with the LSU AgCenter, with horticulture responsibilities in Washington and Tangipahoa Parishes. Contact Mary Helen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 985-277-1850 (Hammond) or 985-839-7855 (Franklinton).