Get ready to dig into spring as the garden is slowly waking up. Although many people typically think of tulips and daffodils at this time of year, now is also the time to ‘dig in’ and plant your cool weather vegetables.
Start by deciding where the garden will go and how much space you have available. Look for an area that has full sun throughout the day. Next determine the size of the space you have. Measure it and jot down the measurements for when you go to the nursery to shop for plants.
Next, it’s time to get digging. Vegetable gardens prefer rich, dark soil. Dig down into the dirt with a garden shovel and loosen it up. The soil should drain well so water does not sit in puddles for any length of time. If your soil is poor add compost.
Here’s the hard part—using restraint when choosing your veggies. I know you want to buy them all but you should only buy what you have room to grow. By following the spacing requirements for each plant, you will grow more fruit, your plants be happier and there will be less possibility of insects and disease.
Now through mid-April is a great time to plant cool weather crops such as lettuce, onions, carrots, kale, radishes and spinach to name a few. These types of veggies perform best in daytime temperatures that are around 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit and will tolerate some light frost. They are harvested in late June through July before the heat of summer.
It’s important to be water-wise. Water your vegetable garden only when the soil is dry and needs it. Deep, but infrequent watering two or three a week is best if there is no natural rainfall. More is not always better—excess watering may encourage insect and disease problems. As for the soil, choose an organic, slow release vegetable fertilizer for your plants. Follow the instructions on the fertilizer you choose. Again, more isn’t always better.
Fresh picked vegetables from your own garden are tastier and more nutritious than store-bought vegetables. And, vegetables really grow themselves—all you have to do is help them out a little so they can be their best. Spring is a wonderful time to get outdoors, enjoy the cool spring air and dig in to cool weather vegetable gardening.
Karen Musgrave, CNLP, is a marketing and education specialist at Hicks Nurseries.