Signs of spring are here. The birds are chirping, daffodils are emerging, and bees are busy buzzing around the first blossoms of the season. The soil is warming up as well, giving gardeners the green light to start prepping their spring and summer bounties. But first, it all starts with some spring seed planting.
Even though the temperatures aren’t warm enough yet to plant some of July’s juicy tomatoes, it is the perfect time for chillier spring vegetables. Not sure what to plant right now in the early days of spring into the first days of summer? Here’s a guide to enjoying your garden from April to June, making the most out of April showers and May sunshine.
Collards, kale and swiss chard enjoy the lower springtime temperatures and gentler sun. They can be seeded directly into amended soil and covered with a thin layer of organic mulch. If you first use seeds inside, plants can be taken out into the garden when they have three “true leaves.” Just remember to handle them by their leaves and not by their stems. Many nurseries also sell these popular garden additions around this time of year so you can choose to direct seed or plant a sapling.
One of spring’s darlings, lettuces of all kinds love the cool weather temperatures that spring offers. With so many varieties of lettuce and a quick germinating to harvest time, you’ll be eating salads every day of the week in no time. If you can’t pick just one type of lettuce, try mixing seeds together for your very own customized mix. Some favorites include “rocket” arugula, red and green oak leaf lettuce and flashy trout back. Try to restrain your first planting to a small area and then add another section two weeks later to ensure you’ll have plenty of leafy greens to add to your plate throughout the spring.
Other spring seed planting favorites include sweet and earthy beets, parsnips, turnips, kohlrabi and carrots. You can seed these root vegetables directly and some varieties, such as radishes, will produce rather quickly. A good tip is to mix together the carrot and radish seeds in one row. Radishes, which only take about 22-70 days to harvest, will be long gone before your carrots are ready. (They usually take 70-80 days to harvest.) Just like the lettuces, space your radish plantings out every two weeks to give you a consistent bounty until the weather gets hot.
Head to your local garden store and pick up some small broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage plants to add to your spring garden (in case you’re a little behind in your seed starting at home). These transplants will thrive in the cooler temperatures of spring, just make sure to keep the plants moist. And remember that it’s always a good idea to add a layer of organic mulch to protect the roots.
As the days get warmer and the sun gets hotter towards the end of May, you can begin to plant your tomato, pepper and eggplant plants. This gives you the chance to harvest the results of your spring seed planting by early July. Gardeners can also direct seed cucumbers, pickles, zucchini, summer squash and okra, so they will be ready for picking when summer is in full swing.
Preparing for the Fall
Even though fall is the last thing on your mind during the warm summer months, it’s important to think ahead; this way, your gardening season will extend well into fall. Planting cabbages, pumpkins and other gourds during the summer guarantees that you’ll be enjoying them once the cooler and shorter days of September and October arrive.
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