It is spring and most of the country is enjoying mild, wonderful temperatures. This is my favorite time of year. I especially enjoy working in the garden in spring. Spring is a fabulous time to garden for two reasons.
Comfortable climate: not too hot, not too humid, not too many bugs. It is a great time to be outdoors.
Spring plants are typically lower maintenance, easy to grow, and (usually) forgiving.
When it comes to spring planting, you will notice I often plant seeds in the ground instead of buying little seedlings at the nursery. I do this for several reasons:
I can plant whenever I want. I don't have to wait for the big-box store to sell seedlings.
Less stress on the plants and roots as they grow.
The plants will not go through "shock" as they are moved from a pot to the garden.
They establish strong root systems and are usually healthier.
Watching seeds emerge from the soil and grow is very satisfying.
Here are four easy spring plants You can start this weekend:
Did you know that asparagus is a perennial? Once you plant asparagus the plant will give you spears for over 15 years. (Some say up to 25 years!)
If you already have asparagus in your garden, new spears will be popping out of the ground daily in spring. Enjoy this glorious vegetable while it lasts. Simply break the spears off at the ground to harvest them.
If you don't have asparagus in your garden, this is a great time to plant it! Most nurseries are selling pots of asparagus now. It is usually sold in a 1-gallon pot. Once you get the pot home be sure to separate the crowns and plant them in holes 12 to 18 inches apart. My nursery sells six to eight plants in each 1-gallon pot.
#2 SUGAR SNAP PEAS
Oh, how I love sugar snap peas. No matter how many I grow, we eat every single one. Sweet, crisp, refreshing!
Why you should plant sugar snap peas:
They have their own travel pack in the form of a pod.
They are the perfect, portable snack food in spring, summer and fall.
They are grown easily from seed (pea).
Not many pests, diseases or worries.
Sugar snap peas will perform best if they have something to climb. I use sections of cattle panel as trellises for the pea vines. I attach the cattle panels to some stakes driven into the ground.
Once your trellis is in place, sprinkle the peas on the ground around it. Then poke the peas an inch into the ground.
Poke! Poke! Poke!
The vines will be coming up in a few short days.
Lettuce is one of the easiest plants to grow from seed. It is amazing how quickly you will be harvesting leaves off your plants for a dinner salad.
Lettuce is generally a cool season crop. It grows best and has the best flavor when grown in cool temperatures.
Although lettuce has the best flavor when grown in the cooler temperatures of spring and fall, I grow lettuce throughout the summer too. My secret is to continually plant new seeds. As long as I harvest the lettuce while it is young, the flavor is good. I have also found that red lettuce is more heat tolerant than other varieties.
To plant lettuce seeds, first make a divot in the soil. I use a rake handle to make straight rows for my seeds.
Then I sprinkle the seeds in the row.
Feel free to plant several varieties of lettuce. Plant whatever your family enjoys. I like to plant an entire salad bar in my garden. It normally includes spinach, butter crunch lettuce, spring mix and radishes.
Last, rake soil over the seeds. Salads coming soon to your backyard!
Onions can be planted twice a year. Spring and fall.
Onions are pretty low maintenance. Here are the pros and cons:
Easy to plant.
Easy to harvest (just yank on the top).
Will store in my basement for seven to nine months.
Natural healing properties (really good for you).
Difficult to weed.
Will have lots of weeds because there is nothing to shade the ground beneath the thin stalks (mulching around the stalks will help).
I prefer to plant onion "sets." This is not the only type of onion you can plant, but I have had great results in my area (Kentucky) with onion sets. They are easy to plant and will be as big as an orange in a couple of months.
Onion sets are generally sold by the pound. A pound of onion sets is a lot of onions. These tiny balls weigh nothing. They come in three varieties (at my store): white, purple and yellow. I'm pretty sure "White," "Purple" and "Yellow" are their scientific name, kingdom and phylum.
The white onions are the strongest and store the best. The yellow onions are milder and sweeter (they store well too). The purple onions are beautiful, but do not store worth a darn and will bruise and rot if you look at them wrong.
To plant onion sets, I poke holes in the soil with the handle of my metal rake. A benefit of raised beds containing good quality soil is how easy it is to work in. We don't need shovels. I can dig holes with my hand. Or poke them with a handle.
Poke, poke, poke!
After you poke a 4-inch hole in the ground, drop in the onion set – root side down.
Once all the holes have onions, cover with soil. That's it! You will have green leaves shooting out of the ground in no time.
If you're feeling adventurous, there are many other plants you can get growing in your garden right now. Some popular choices include: Brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, beets, spinach, radishes, kale and many herbs. All of these will enjoy cool days and frosty nights.
Happy Spring, Everyone!