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Kansas City gardeners can get started planting this spring. Here's what an expert recommends

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White Clover (<em>Trifolium repens</em>) is edible, but not all that tasty.
Ina Yang
/
NPR
Patton recommends incorporating Dutch white clover (pictured above) into lawns rather than the trendy microclover seen on the internet. He said that's because microclover doesn't do well in Kansas City's intense summer heat.

Kansas City is about a week behind schedule for vegetable planting because of an exceptionally chilly March, but gardeners don't have to wait any longer. Local horticulturist Dennis Patton shares his tips on how to get the most out of your lawn and garden this spring.

Gardening is having a bit of a moment. During the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, 18.3 million Americans became first-time gardeners.

“A gardener is always an eternal optimist. You know, tomorrow is going to be better, next year is going to be better,” horticulturist Dennis Patton said on Up To Date on Wednesday.

Patton works at Kansas State University’s Johnson County Extension Office. He told Up To Date's host Steve Kraske that American gardeners are at a bit of a “tipping point” when it comes to their lawns.

“I hate to compare this to politics, but it's almost like you've got the sides in lawn care,” he said. “You've got the traditionalist, who wants the English manicured lawn, and you’ve got the more environmentally friendly lawn.”

Lawns haven’t always looked like golf courses, Patton explained.

“Prior to the rise of suburbia and the “chemical revolution” of the 1950s and 1960s, plants like clover weren’t considered weeds and were actually an integral part of lawns," he said.

As for vegetable planting, Patton said we’re about a week to 10 days behind schedule here in Kansas City because of an exceptionally chilly March.

However, there’s still plenty of vegetables that can handle a light freeze and should be planted this week.

“It's way too early for the popular tomatoes and peppers,” he said. “What's going in now is broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and a lot of the salad crops.”

Want to know more about gardening in our region? Here’s the latest version of the “Kansas Garden Guide,” published by K-State Research and Extension.

  • Dennis Patton, horticulture agent at the K-State Johnson County Extension Office
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When I host Up To Date each morning at 9, my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. Reach me at steve@kcur.org or on Twitter @stevekraske.
Claudia Brancart is an Up To Date producer for KCUR 89.3. She graduated from Pitzer College in Los Angeles where she majored in World Literature and Studio Art. You can reach her at claudiab@kcur.org.
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