I have a confession to make. Almost every early March for the past fifteen years, I have registered for school. Once farming season hits, I drop classes and begin my life outdoors for the next nine months. Then I am busy with crafts and rest. After Christmas, I redo my house, busily planning my garden in the back of my mind. Then hits February and early March. The tyranny of it all! I lose my sense of purpose. I become listless and not super fun to live with. I wonder about my life and my dreams and my….oh, time to plant, see ya later! I wish I could farm all year.
When a person first starts gardening, it is enough to just get everything in after the last frost date. New gardeners tend to plant everything at the same time. That is great, but then one might notice how quickly the lettuce went bitter and bolted, or the peas went to seed, and that will never do. So the gardener starts planting spring crops. We have just expanded our food window three months! Then the gardener gets hooked on fresh food and decides to start fall crops too. Pretty soon, you’re a homesteader with fresh food nine months out of the year and lots of preserves, a verifiable grocery store going on in your house! It’s good stuff and lots of fun. It is time to plant spring crops now.
Many plants enjoy cooler weather. They are the first things that we shall plant and there are other cool crops that take many months to grow, like rutabagas and celery, that need to be planted now. St. Patrick’s Day is the traditional day to plant potatoes. And the Irish know potatoes! Now, if you happen to live in a very wet climate, your potato starts are going to rot away within a few weeks, so if you garden in the north in a wet climate, you might need to wait a few more weeks. But here in dry zone 6, the timing is perfect (add a week per earlier zone to wait to plant).
Cold crops generally need to be consistently damp in order to germinate. Carrots are particularly finicky fellows when it comes to being insistent on moisture. So, if it is not going to rain or snow, plan to water once per day.
Did you read my last post? I have been busy hoeing trenches and filling them with soil in preparation. (So, if you have tried calling me, that is why I haven’t returned calls!) My seeds are separated into early spring, 2 weeks later, and 2 weeks after that. 2 weeks after that, I will begin summer seeds. I try to stay on top of things because I have trees coming and will have many herb seedlings to transplant during the next six weeks, so if it is nice out, I am outside. That is my happy place.
Here is what I plant in the spring.
- field peas
- two kinds of carrots (the third will be planted in the summer for winter storage)
- snow peas
- shelling peas
- three kinds of onions (yellow, red, and bunching)
- four kinds of lettuce spread out over the spring planting season
- three kinds of potatoes (the fourth will be planted in a few months for winter storage)
- cabbage (another variety will be planted in the summer for winter storage)
- two kinds of kale
- swiss chard
- rhubarb ( roots planted in the perennial garden)
- asparagus (roots planted in the perennial garden)
I bet you didn’t know there were so many delicious food items to plant right now! Keep damp, and once the seedlings start to appear, mulch well with straw.
I always haphazardly put out plant markers but they end up disappearing, so I keep a ledger of the type of seed and where it is planted and the day I planted it. This helps me keep track of my favorite varieties (5 Silverbeet Swiss Chard!) and what doesn’t work (having a doozy of time trying to get brussel sprouts to grow). I also know what mysterious plant is coming up when the plant marker gets blown away.
Planting spring crops is a great way to spend a quasi-warm day out in the garden. Dreaming of crisp radishes and peas and new potatoes and asparagus…