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Author Topic: Spring Vegetable Garden  (Read 2821 times)

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Kat

  • Guest
Spring Vegetable Garden
« on: March 10, 2010, 01:22:03 PM »


Yep, down here in the deep south I'm getting started on my veggie gardening.  I have got seeds started in doors; okra, watermelon, basil, cantaloupe, and catnip for the kitties. And this past weekend I went to Lowe's and picked up some herbs and now I've got my out door herb garden on the way. So I thought I would give you northerners a wake up call, spring is just around the corner (this weekend is 'spring forward' time) and it's time to get started on our gardens. I like Allen Smith and he had good suggestions, so I put those below.


What to Plant in Your Spring Vegetable Garden
by P. Allen Smith

Cool season vegetables are those that can thrive during the shorter days and cooler temperatures of spring and fall, In fact, some vegetables such as kohlrabi and kale actually develop  better flavor when nipped by frost.  Lettuce, collards, snow peas, cabbage and broccoli are a few examples of cool season vegetables. Summer favorites like okra, squash and tomatoes require long, hot days to grow.

So you are looking out the window at 2 feet of snow wondering what you can possibly do now to start your garden  the first thing  to do is place your seed order. When your order arrives, it may still be too early to plant the seeds outdoors, but many cool season vegetables can be started from seed indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the frost free date in your area.  Some transplants can be put out a few weeks before the frost free date as well.

Now I foresee the comments from readers in the Deep South already, “This doesn't apply to me!”  Well, you are right.  You are already mid-way through your cool season vegetable garden time frame, but there is still time to plant.

On the flip side, gardeners in the extreme north have such a short growing season that they will plant their cool and warm season vegetables practically side by side.

Before you start sowing seeds and planting it's important to know what the last frost date is in your area.  This will determine when your spring growing season begins.  There are several on-line sites where you can find this information using your zip code or by checking frost dates of near-by cities. These are average dates that may differ slightly year to year but they give you a basic window of time in which you can create a planting schedule.  Another good source of local, reliable advice is your area's County Cooperative Extension Service or check with knowledgeable members of local gardening clubs.

Last Frost Dates by Zone
Zone 3 1 May / 31 May
Zone 4 1 May / 30 May
Zone 5 30 Mar / 30 Apr
Zone 6 30 Mar / 30 Apr
Zone 7 30 Mar / 30 Apr
Zone 8 28 Feb / 30 Mar
Zone 9 30 Jan / 28 Feb (this is where I am)
Zone 10 30 Jan or before
Zone 11 Free of Frost throughout the year.
hardiness zone map http://www.thegardenhelper.com/hardiness.htm

So that brings us to just what types of vegetables should we plant.  Here is a list of common cool season vegetables with a few tips to help you produce a bountiful spring garden.
But I don't want to mislead you, even though many of these vegetables are regarded as cold tolerant, they can all be wiped out by a sudden, severe drop in temperature. It's important to be prepared with something to drape over the crops if an overnight cold snap is expected.  Simply cover your crops with newspaper, old sheets or frost blankets. Just remember to remove the covering the next morning.

Arugula – Sow seeds in the garden as soon as soil can be worked in spring. They will germinate in about 7 days and are ready to harvest in 3 to 4 weeks. For a continuous harvest, sow seeds every 2 weeks until temperatures heat up.

Beets – Sow seeds in early spring as soon as the soil can be worked. Beets prefer a well-drained, sandy soil. Avoid high nitrogen fertilizers as this will encourage top growth at the expense of root development. As with all root crops good soil aeration is key to uniform, robust development. Consistent moisture is also important. Keep areas weed free to avoid competition for nutrients.

Broccoli – Broccoli seed can be sown directly in the garden 4 weeks before the last frost date in your area or set out transplants 2 weeks before the last frost date. The ideal day time temperature for broccoli is between 65 and 80 degrees. Feed the plants 3 weeks after transplanting into the garden. Use a low nitrogen fertilizer.

Cabbage – Start seeds indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the last front date or plant transplants in the garden 2 weeks before that date. Direct sow in the garden immediately after the last frost date. Cabbage plants are heavy feeders that require fertile soil rich in organic matter and consistent moisture.

Carrots – Sow seeds in spring about 2 weeks before the last frost date. Carrots need deep, loose soil to form a robust root. Keep the bed weeded to avoid competition for nutrients from other plants. Too much nitrogen will result in forked roots. When the seedlings are about 2-inches tall, thin them so there is about 1 to 4-inches between them. Cover the shoulders with mulch or soil to keep them from turning green and bitter.

Collards – Collard transplants can be planted 4 to 6 weeks before the last frost date in your area. Plant in fertile, well drained soil with a pH of 6.5 to 6.8. Rich soil encourages rapid growth and tender leaves, which are the best tasting collards.

English Peas – Direct sow in the garden 4 to 6 weeks before the last frost date in your area. They will germinate in soil temperatures as low as 40 degrees F. Seedlings will survive a late snow and short periods of temperatures down to 25 degrees F.

Kale – You can plant kale in early spring, about 3 to 5 weeks before the last frost date. Cover with frost blankets during severe cold. Similar to collards very fertile soil is ideal to encourage rapid growth and tender leaves.

Kohlrabi – Kohlrabi is similar to a turnip, but is actually related to cabbage. Set plants out 4 weeks before the last frost date. Protect young plants from freezing temperatures with a frost blanket. Cool temperatures enhance the sweet flavor.

Lettuce – Sow lettuce any time in spring when the soil is workable. Lettuce is more sensitive to cold than other cool season vegetables and should definitely be covered during cold snaps. The ideal day time temperature is between 60 and 70 degrees. Fertilize with fish emulsion, which is high in nitrogen. Lettuce will grow in partial shade and actually appreciates the shelter from intense late spring sun.

Onions – Onions can be grown from sets, small bulbs, or transplants, which look like scallions and come in a bundle of 60 or so. Either method should be planted in early spring as soon as the soil is workable. Long-day varieties are suitable for Northern gardens and short-day varieties can be planted in the South. Place time release fertilizer in the planting hole so that it is close to the roots. Follow the fertilizer's label directions.

Potatoes – Greening of grass is a good indicator of when to plant potato sets, dried potato pieces with 2 to 3 eyes. In my zone 7 garden that occurs in March. Soil should be loose, fertile and well drained. As the tubers mature, cover with soil to prevent burning.

Radish – Sow radish seeds in the garden about 4 weeks before the last frost date in your area. No feeding necessary, but soil should be fertile and well drained. They are quick to mature so check them regularly. They are ready to harvest as soon as they are of edible size.

Spinach – Spinach seeds can be sown over frozen ground to germinate as the soil thaws. Transplants can be set out 4 weeks before the last frost date in your area. Fertilize when the plants are about 4 inches tall. Spinach prefers very fertile soil to encourage rapid growth and tender leaves. Once the days get long and warm it will bolt, meaning that it grows tall, blooms and becomes bitter tasting. For grit-free leaves select plain leaf varieties such as Giant Nobel and Olympia.

Swiss Chard – Swiss Chard is one the more beautiful vegetables in the garden. Bright Lights and Ruby are favorites for adding color to the garden and the dinner table. Plant or sow seeds 2 weeks before the last frost date in your area. Thin to 6-inches apart when seedlings are 3-inches tall. Water regularly.

Turnip – Plant 2 weeks before the last frost date. Any well-drained soil will do. Consistent moisture is key for healthy root development. Although it is not necessary, the greens will be the most tender if you plant in a fertile soil.

Good to Know:
Vegetables need 7 to 8 hours of full sun daily. Cool season vegetables get by on 6, some can even be planted in partial shade.

Framed Bed Soil Recipe: 50% existing garden soil, 25% aged manure, 25% compost or humus

http://www.pallensmith.com/articles/spring-vegetable-garden
« Last Edit: March 10, 2010, 01:36:46 PM by Kat »
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Roy Martin

  • Guest
Re: Spring Vegetable Garden
« Reply #1 on: March 10, 2010, 01:33:55 PM »

Kat, I've been looking forward to your garden post. I knew it would be any day.
 Yep! time to play in the soil.

Roy
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Samson

  • Guest
Re: Spring Vegetable Garden
« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2010, 05:59:42 PM »

Hi Kat,

          Yes, it's that time again, my favorite season of all-Spring and with it, one of my favorite past times,  Vegetable Gardening. I like mowing lawns, trimming trees and bushes; etc. Hope Tomatoes are better this year. Pam and I moved last October to an area that's better, with an opportunity for a much larger garden. My Garden is dug with a shovel and Ho, probably doing that Tomorrow, it's still raining, Today. Going to mix some Peat with that soil and let it sit for a copy of weeks. Aside from the usual Vegetables we grow, haven't decided what else to try, it will probably be something high yielding, due to space constraints, but thinking of Eggplant, I've had success with that, in the past.

                            Spring is here, Finally, Samson.
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Roy Martin

  • Guest
Re: Spring Vegetable Garden
« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2010, 07:02:05 PM »

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Samson

  • Guest
Re: Spring Vegetable Garden
« Reply #4 on: April 27, 2010, 07:55:10 PM »

Samson, here is a link to  seeds you won't find at the local garden center.
http://www.cropking.com/HydroponicSupplies/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=1008&zenid=d238569bc005aa5f9b6a948629a900c0

Thanks Roy,

                 So far, can't find the Seedless Cucumber, not a big deal, but their preferable.

Hey Kat,

             White Onion Sets and String beans planted last week. Soon it will be time for the Tomatoes, Green Peppers and Cucumbers. If anyone knows a type of substance deterent for the Critters(Rabbits & Ground Hogs), let me know. Heard about Dried Blood and Moth Balls. Will welcome any suggestions, short of blowing them away, don't like that choice and a fence is impractical for my circumstances.

                                   Kind Regards, Samson.
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Kat

  • Guest
Re: Spring Vegetable Garden
« Reply #5 on: April 27, 2010, 09:54:36 PM »


Hi Samson,

Down here in the deep south gardening is well underway. I already have onions, garlic, leeks, strawberries and lettuces carried over from last year. Now I've planted peppers, tomatoes, okra, eggplant, squash, watermelons, cantelope, gourds and have a full herb garden going already too. Not as big as it sounds, three different spots that are small enough for me to work, good exercise  :) This week I just put down a heavy layer of hay for mulch. I was on a site where a woman said that is the way she has gardened for 30 years. She did not have to water, did not use any pesticides and never needed to weed. Now that's my kind of gardening, so that's what I'm doing too.

About the critters... well I've got a secret weapon, didn't even intend for it, but it's my black lab, Tip. No little critter (or person for that matter) is safe if they venture into my back yard. Now I did have to fence in my garden spot, because she and the yellow lab loves to lay on fresh dug soil and the garden was their favorite spot. Of course if there wasn't fresh dug soil they had no problem making some. Now about your rabbits, maybe a decoy patch of clover.  Not sure about the moles, do they eat your plants? I thought they just ate grubs and worms. Tip digs those up, so I don't have to worry about them.

Well happy gardening for all you people that don't mind getting your hands dirty  :D

Kat

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Samson

  • Guest
Re: Spring Vegetable Garden
« Reply #6 on: April 27, 2010, 11:43:43 PM »


Hi Samson,

Down here in the deep south gardening is well underway. I already have onions, garlic, leeks, strawberries and lettuces carried over from last year. Now I've planted peppers, tomatoes, okra, eggplant, squash, watermelons, cantelope, gourds and have a full herb garden going already too. Not as big as it sounds, three different spots that are small enough for me to work, good exercise  :) This week I just put down a heavy layer of hay for mulch. I was on a site where a woman said that is the way she has gardened for 30 years. She did not have to water, did not use any pesticides and never needed to weed. Now that's my kind of gardening, so that's what I'm doing too.

About the critters... well I've got a secret weapon, didn't even intend for it, but it's my black lab, Tip. No little critter (or person for that matter) is safe if they venture into my back yard. Now I did have to fence in my garden spot, because she and the yellow lab loves to lay on fresh dug soil and the garden was their favorite spot. Of course if there wasn't fresh dug soil they had no problem making some. Now about your rabbits, maybe a decoy patch of clover.  Not sure about the moles, do they eat your plants? I thought they just ate grubs and worms. Tip digs those up, so I don't have to worry about them.

Well happy gardening for all you people that don't mind getting your hands dirty  :D

Kat



Hey Kat,

             Thanks for the reminder regarding Eggplant, I would have forgotten it, but it was initially planned, so I'll stick with that.  ;D

                                    Thanks, Samson.
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