Monday, May 13, 2013

Get your garden ready; it's time to begin by Harrison Wood

Who ever thought that after all the heavy snow of March and the wee bit of snow we just received that it would finally be time to begin?

By now the spring flowers like the scillas, daffodils, and the crocus should be well underway. The winter mulches should all be removed by now, off to the compost while the sun warms the soil around our world of perennials.

The hummingbirds, which have great memories, will be back soon so their feeders should be up and ready.
As soon as the soil has dried enough to work in the vegetable garden it's time to begin planting. Some of our vegetables need and enjoy the cool spring weather, resistant to any worries of spring frost they will thank you many times with a robust production. The cool crops like peas, the lettuces, and the cacophony of radishes fall into the category of those ready to begin.

Start first with the peas, some will need staking others will not.  Either way it is time to begin by planting a few right away with more to follow in about a week. By successive planting you will extend your harvesting over a longer season. Peas detest hot weather so the sooner we begin the better. Also keep in mind that peas like beans have a symbiotic relationship with natural bacteria in the soil that allows them to feed themselves. So when you plant vegetables of these sorts remember to coat the seeds with a bacterial inoculant that you can pick up at any devoted farm supply store that also sells seeds.

The myriad of loose leaf and head lettuces should also be planted at this time using a number if successive plantings scheduled out over about 10 days. Doing so will allow you to enjoy fresh greens over a longer season. Loose leaf varieties can be planted closer than the head varieties. Loose head varieties like Bibb are a perfect tasty choice for us here in Maine, in that they will stand up well to our summer heat.  Keep in mind that if you overdo it with over seeding the head varieties that you can transplant the larger varieties so as to give them more room. The loose leaf varieties can be planted closer and harvested with scissors  thus allowing them to regrow for an additional harvest.

The radishes should also be planted at this time. Keep in mind that they will be ready to pull in about thirty days, so successive plantings will also extend your salad crops. Radishes also need a wee bit more room so be careful not to over seed.

In each case, plan on side dressing with a balanced fertilizer as soon as they show their first true set of leaves. Feeding with a slow organic feed will go a long way to developing a robust continuing harvest that will help to give you something special.

Begin and enjoy with more plantings later. Your peppers as well as your tomatoes should also be started by now inside on the sunniest window you have, ready, for planting outside once the worry of frosts have past.
For old timers like me, we remember lessons from our generations in the past, one of which dates itself back to colonial times, when the lilacs are in bloom, it's safe to plant just about anything. Frosts won't happen.

Until then, begin and enjoy the start of the season.

Harrison Wood
Master Gardener
Windham Community Garden

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