Spring Gardening Starts with Spring Planting

early-lettuce-blog3Even though there’s a light dusting of snow and the thermometer reads 24 degrees, it’s time to start thinking about spring planting. Really.

March 17 typically signals the day to plant cool-season vegetable crops like lettuce, spinach, peas, radish, broccoli, cabbage, onions and turnips.

These hardy vegetables can tolerate a light frost–and some can survive a hard freeze.  Most of these can be planted anytime from 2 to 4 weeks before the average last spring frost.

Soil temperature plays an important part in planting these early crops, so check to make sure the soil has warmed and is fairly dry. I’ve had good luck in the past, planting a variety of leaf lettuce in containers on the patio.

This works well for me for several reasons: I can move the container into the sunniest spot on the patio, monitor the lettuce more closely,  toss a cover on the pot if the weather turns especially cold and the lettuce isn’t taking up any valuable garden real estate.

It’s easy to scratch the surface of the soil, sow the seeds about 1/4-inch deep and then wait about a week or so for the seeds to germinate.

This year, I think I’ll try planting spinach in the same manner and planting about 1/2-inch deep.

If you have a spot along the sunny side of a fence, peas make for good planting there, especially if the bed is raised. There are a lot of peas to choose from including shelling (or English) peas, sugar snap peas and snow peas. Choose several varieties or just the ones you prefer to use in cooking.

To guarantee a long season of harvesting peas, you can plant early, midseason and late varieties. Some peas can be ready in as early as 50 days.

For best results soak seeds overnight before planting to make for easier germination. Train peas to climb some kind of support, mulch and keep them moist. It’s especially important to water when the plants are in blossom and producing pods.

Spring planting is fun and really gets the growing season off to a good start.

What are you planning for your spring garden?


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