Garden Views: Spring Ahead

GARDEN VIEWS
KENT PETTERSON
columnist

Veggie gardeners, it’s time to get out in the garden! That’s right, the snow is melting and the ground is ready to receive your seed. Worried about a snowstorm, it probably won’t hurt your seed if you have planted.
These early days of spring like weather are the best time to get certain vegetables started. Check your seed packets. If it says as soon as the soil can be worked believe it. We likely will be seeing weather that will thaw and dry the soil surface during early April. Nighttime freeze and even a little snow that quickly melts are conditions that half-hardy plants are adapted to and will be just fine.
Specifically, you can spread seeds for leaf lettuces where you want it to grow. It will come up as soon as conditions are perfect. If you get good germination, transplant some of the seedlings to other areas in your garden. A perfect spot is where you plan to grow tomatoes. The lettuce plants will be ready for harvest in June just after you put in your tomato transplants. Shared space increases your production.
In past years, I started broccoli in my basement and after hardening them off would plant seedlings out. This works great, but if you don’t have the facility to start seeds inside, do it early in the garden. Seeds germinate quickly and cold weather plants acclimate to the conditions and grow quickly. You will be harvesting nearly as quickly as from indoor started plants.
This technique works well for all plants in the Cole crop family including cabbage, kale, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and kohlrabi.
If you do plan to start seed indoors, I would recommend two plants. Peppers work well if started about April 1 indoors. You will have transplantable size plants for the last half of May. Tomatoes are also easy to grow — start them indoors about April 15. You will have plants ready for hardening outdoors the last week of May. Plants grown indoors need a few days of controlled conditions. Minimize exposure to wind, strong sun and low temps for a few days when plants are brought outdoors. See you in the garden!

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