Sunday, March 28, 2021

April 2021 Edible Garden Planner

Spinach in a self watering pot
Sunday, March 28, 2021

April showers bring May flowers, fruits, herbs and vegetables.  Now is the perfect time to get serious on getting your spring garden planted and sown!  In April, I will have seeds and plants going indoors and outdoors.

Crops to plant in April
Early April is a perfect time to plant cold season crops like Brussels sprouts, fava beans, beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, collards, kale, lettuce, mustard, onions, parsley, parsnips, peas, potatoes, radishes, shallots, spinach, strawberries, Swiss chard and turnips.  Outdoor transplant calendar

See this post for what to plant in April as well as links on how to grow each veggie.  What to get going in the edible April garden

We can have fresh salads from the garden now.  The greens that overwintered are arugula, parsley, sprouting broccoli, cress, lettuce, chard, sorrel, Chinese cabbage Hilton, and cultivated dandelions.  The other greens and herbs that overwintered are celery, carrots, chives, leeks, tarragon, sage, thyme, and kale.  They are great adds to salads as well as cooked dishes.

The sprouting broccoli that overwintered in the garden and pots are quite a nice size.  I will get cabbage worms by the end of June which love cabbage and broccoli.  The options for keeping the worms away is to rotate the crops, harvest by mid-June or treat with BT at the first sign of the worms, which is an organic treatment.  Sprouting broccoli is one of my favorite edibles.  The leaves taste like broccoli and are sweet all through spring, summer and fall.  They are great in salads.  You also get little broccoli florets to eat on and off through the season.  Sprouting broccoli- a year round fav

We can still get frosts in April so you want to hold off on planting warm season crops outdoors like tomatoes, eggplant, peppers and squash until May unless you cover them or bring them indoors if frost does visit your garden.  Extend the season with protection for plants

I have usually transplanted lettuce and spinach plants outdoors by this time.  This year, the transplants are  slow coming into the garden centers.  My guess is that cold snap in February put the growers behind.  I will sow snow peas, lettuce and spinach seed in pots outdoors this week.   

To keep yourself in lettuce all season, do succession planting of new seeds or plants every 2-3 weeks.  Just plant the number you would normally eat in a 2-3 week period.  This will keep salads on the table continuously.  Do succession planting for any vegetable you want to extend the harvest for.  Keep the harvest going, do succession planting

If this is your first year in gardening, here are some pointers on what to choose what to grow and get your garden going What to plant for your first garden  Easy kitchen garden   If you don't have much space you can still grow a garden either in pots or in a garden spot as little as 6" by 6'. Veggies for small spaces

To get a jump on summer harvests, I will start a variety of edibles indoors on the kitchen counter in both my Aerogarden and peat pods.  For the large seedlings like cucumber, squash, and watermelon, I start these in 3" peat pots.  I have had great success in the Aerogarden in germination rates.  It is really close to 100% across all types of seeds.  Seed starting tips for beginners
Aerogarden on the right, peat pods on the left

The varieties I will start indoors: tomatoes, peppers, okra, pink celery, rosemary, basil, dill, asparagus, rhubarb, Chinese cabbage, Alpine strawberries, eggplants, New Zealand spinach, Malabar spinach, morning glory, cucumbers, zucchini, winter squash, bulbing fennel, watermelon, pole green beans and onions.
When you plant, make sure to fertilize and add mycorrhizae in each planting hole. Mycorrhizae are beneficial microbes that help your plant roots absorb nutrients from the soil.  I also add biochar and worm castings in each hole.  Using these amendments is when I had the most productive and disease free summer gardens.

I like to apply fertilizer, add a thick layer of compost and top with mulch before I begin planting.  Just mulch by itself breaks down and adds organic matter to the soil.  I use only organic fertilizers and amendments.  There is a great deal of research that shows chemical fertilizers negatively affect the soil food web.  Weed free, self fertilizing, till free garden beds

If you didn't do a soil test (you can use a kit from a garden store/big box store or have your local extensions office analyze it), use a balanced organic fertilizer like Espoma at the rate recommended.  You can make your own all natural, organic fertilizer, too, inexpensively.  Here is the link:  Make your own fertilizer, it's all natural and inexpensive  If you did not fertilize the entire garden bed before planting, be sure to add fertilizer to each planting hole per the directions on the package.  Crops will need that burst of energy for the quick growth that spring brings. 

If you want to have an in-depth soil analysis done to create a fertilizer specific to your soil, here is a blog on who to send your sample to and how to get a personal fertilizer recipe  The next step in garden production and your nutrition-soil minerals

If you are re-using pots from last year, here is a link to get your potting soil ready to nourish your new plants:  Re-energize your potting soil!  It is important to get your potting soil ready to support this season's growth and veggie production.  Be sure when you fertilize to mix it into the soil or apply before you put down a protective and organic layer of mulch.  This keeps the nitrogen from oxidizing and escaping into the air instead of staying in the ground to nourish your plant.  This year, I did all my pots.  I added 1 part compost to 2 parts potting soil, Azomite for minerals, and Espoma fertilizer.  My plants should have everything they need for a strong start to the growing season.
Chives and lettuce in  mid-April garden

Frost date importance
The last frost date in our area is around April 10th.  This is important to know for are planting seeds and when to move plants into the garden.   Frost date look up  The seed packet tells you when to plant in relation to your last frost date.  You will get the best results following the packet instructions.  Planting early is not always a good strategy as different seeds need different soil temperatures before they will germinate.  Plant too early and they can rot before they have a chance to sprout.  When to plant your veggies

Pots will warm up quicker, but will also chill down faster.  You can put your pots in a sheltered, sunny spot to get a jump on spring.  Putting your pots on the south side of the house will provide the maximum warmth.  I lover planting greens in a large self watering pot that I can keep on the patio, making it handy for picking a fresh salad for dinner, and to move to a cooler spot in the hot days of summer.  

When growing veggies in containers, they will require more watering and more liquid fertilizer than if they were in the ground.  In the summer, you may have to water some water lovers every day unless you use self-watering pots.  For more on growing in pots.  Decorative container gardening for edibles  
With the self-watering pots, your watering duties will be greatly reduced.

Lettuce, greens, and herbs do fabulous this month.  It is the time to indulge in daily salads. and smoothies.  Cool temperatures and lots of moisture produce the sweetest greens of the season.  

This year, you may have more time or just want to be sure you can get fresh veggies.  Here is a garden that meets that need, even if you only have a small space, like a flower bed.  Small space survival edible garden 

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Keep the harvest going, do succession planting

Saturday, March 27, 2021

A key strategy to getting the most out of your garden space and harvests is to practice succession planting.  Make it a goal to never have an empty spot in your garden or pot.  Be ready as soon as you harvest one plant or crop to fill the space with its replacement.  When you do plant, don't plant all at once so that your plants come to maturity one after another versus all at once.  And plant different varieties with different maturity dates.  All these strategies will significantly boost how much your garden gives you!

Planning is key.  You will need to lay out your garden bed by each season so you can see what you need when.  There are crops that thrive in cool weather  Spring edible garden and those that thrive in hot summers A summer edible garden .  Have a plan for what you want in your spring garden, lay it out in your journal with a sketch of your garden and where each plant will go.  Do the same for your summer garden.

For my spring and summer garden, I do a combination of starting from seed and buying transplants.  Buying transplants speeds up getting my first harvests while I start seeds at the same time as I plant out the transplants.  I want spring salads as soon as I can get them!

As soon as the cool season crops like lettuce, beets, spinach, radishes and carrots are spent, it will be time to replace them with warm season crops like beans, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and squash.  You can start your plants from seed or buy transplants. If starting from seed, you will stagger when you start each vegetable so that they mature at different times.

You can get the same effect as succession planting with planting different varieties of the same vegetable that mature at different times.  Look on the seed packet or transplant tag for "Days to Harvest".  Buy varieties that mature sooner and those that mature later.  You don't want 50 heads of lettuce all ready in the same week.

It is good to plant an early and late crop of things that are susceptible to disease like tomatoes and summer squash.  When the early plants are winding down and not producing at their peak, the later plants will be coming on strong.

Here is a list of succession planning by vegetable for continuous harvests:
Basil-21 days apart
Beets-every two weeks
Bush Beans-every two weeks
Pole Beans-give continuous harvests naturally
Broccoli-best accomplished by planting types with different maturity dates
Cabbage-best accomplished by planting types with different maturity dates
Carrots-every 2 weeks
Cauliflower-best accomplished by planting types with different maturity dates
Chard-give continuous harvests naturally
Cilantro-every 7 days and plant heat tolerant varieties starting in May
Corn-best accomplished by planting types with different maturity dates
Cucumbers-once after last frost and then 2 months later
Dill-every 14 days if you use a lot 
Eggplant-give continuous harvests naturally
Lettuce-every two weeks (be sure to switch to heat tolerant varieties a month after your last frost)
Melons-21 days apart
Parsley-every 14 days if you use a lot
Peppers-give continuous harvests naturally
Radishes-every week
Spinach-every two weeks until last frost, plant heat tolerant starting in May
Summer squash (like zucchini)-once after last frost and then 2 months later
Tomatoes-30 days apart; indeterminate varieties give continuous harvests naturally
Turnips-every 14 days

Another thing to keep in mind is how much a plant produces. Some vegetable plants will give you continuous harvests and some will give you only one or two vegetables (like corn).  Dwarfs are also a great idea for small garden spaces and containers.  Here is more on maximizing harvests:  This year's garden plan and How do you decide what to plant for small spaces??

Happy, productive, continuous gardening!

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Spring edible garden

Early spring garden lettuce and spinach bed
Sunday, March 21, 2021

Spring is such a wondrous time for me.  It reflects renewal and hope as the grass turns green, the leaves reappear on trees and flowers bloom once again.  There is really nothing like the smell of fresh cut grass.  It is this time of year that I can't wait to get out and dig in the dirt and prepare the garden bed for another year of fresh herbs, greens, veggies and summer bouquets.

Most people think of the heat lovers when it comes to an edible garden.  Spring is the time for crops that love it on the cool side.  Cool season crops are in their prime in spring.

Spring is high time for juicy, sweet salads, peas and root crops.  Most greens are sweet in cool temperatures.  When the 80's hit, it is their cue to put up a flower stalk and produce seeds (called bolting).  When this happens, the leaves of most greens become bitter.  There are a few exceptions that you can learn more about here.  Growing summer salads  Bolt-free, sweet summer lettuces  

Before you get started planting, it is important to renew the garden and potting soil each spring.  Healthy and vibrant soil gives plants what they need to be healthy and vibrant food for the family and friends.  Each spring, I like to add an organic fertilizer, minerals, a layer of compost and top with mulch.  I like to have this done in mid-March, ready for planting at the end of March.  Adding mulch too soon in the season can keep the soil temperatures down.  I time adding mulch when temperatures are on the upswing so the fresh mulch helps warm the soil. 

For potting soil, I remove at least the top half from the pot and mix the potting soil with compost at about a 50/50 mix and then mix in fertilizer and minerals like Azomite at the rate recommended.  Re-energize your potting soil!  I use Espoma's fertilizers as it is for organic gardening and available in my rural area.  You can also make your own to save money and it works just as well.  Make your own all natural, complete fertilizer

Here is a listing of spring crops with links to more on growing them.

Cool season fruits and vegetables
Broccoli and Cauliflower  How to grow broccoli and cauliflower
Brussel Sprouts Growing Brussel sprouts
Other Greens (Arugula, Asian, Mustard, Chicories, Cultivated Dandelions) 

Cool season herbs

Spring is also the time to plant perennials.  Many herbs are perennials like rosemary, thyme, sage, tarragon, chives, oregano.  Start a kitchen herb garden!    
Mid spring garden
Garlic, fava beans, winter peas, carrots, leeks and onions may have overwintered if you planted them in the fall.  Peas, radishes, leafy greens can be planted in early spring.  Followed shortly by carrots, beets and potatoes.

As you are laying out your garden, be sure to not plant from the same family in the same spot.  Crop rotation will help keep down pests and different types of crops need different nutrients.  Moving them around the garden helps to keep spots from getting depleted in nutrients.  It helps to either take pictures or capture in your garden log book the layout for each season so you don't forget what you planted where.  Crop rotation made easy for small gardens

I like planting snow peas because you can eat the whole pod.  Pea leaves and flowers are tasty in salads, too.  Spring is when you get the best salads of the year!  Lettuces are sweet and crunchy.  There are chives, redbud blossoms, chickweed, purslane, sorrel, leek, new onions and many other springtime goodies to add to your salads, or smoothies.  Later in spring, you can add radishes, carrots, arugula and garlic scapes.  Time to plant peas!

Chickweed and purslane are both chock full of nutrition but are on the invasive side.  They will completely overrun a pot.  A good option is to give each a pot of their own and be vigorous in pulling any volunteers that appear in other pots.  Edible, nutritious "weeds"

In the cool days of spring, dandelions have a mild taste and are great salad greens.  As temperatures rise, harvest the new leaves for salads and the mature leaves can be used for wilted greens.  Grow Cultivated Dandelions      7 Ways Dandelion Tea Can Be Good for Your Health

I love adding chives and green onions to spring salads.  Everything in the allium (onion/garlic) family is tasty and healthy.  You can use common chives or garlic chives; both are perennial herbs that come back year after year.  Chives also have beautiful flowers that are edible.  Common chives have pretty lavender flowers while garlic chives have white flowers.  I have both in my garden.  Add chives to your garden

My favorite onion is the Egyptian walking onion because it does so well in my garden, it is a perennial and it propagates continuously through division and it's cool bulbets that form on the tips of its stems in summer.  I use the bottoms for a cooking onion and the tops as you would chives.  Egyptian walking onions

Arugula is a green that gets spicier as it warms up outside.  It has a peppery flavor to my tastebuds.  I grow rocket arugula because it is a perennial so comes back year after year.  It grows wild in the Italian countryside.  I just snip off what I want to add to each salad.  

Another perennial green is Alba and Fordhook chard.  They are two of the hardiest chards.  Most of the pretty colored chards likely will not make it through our Midwest winters.  There is one variety, Magenta Magic, that does show good hardiness.  For year round steamed greens, grow chard!

Sprouting broccoli is another green that can survive winters.  Sprouting broccoli- a year round fav  The leaves taste just like broccoli year round and the florets are a nice bonus in the early summer.  The wonderful thing about perennial greens is that they are the first ones up in the spring so you get super early, fresh from the garden salads before anyone else!  There are quite a few to choose from.  Want a vegetable and fruit garden that you only have to plant once? Try perennials!

Other spring greens include Asian flat cabbages like tat-soi and mustard greens.  I think lace leaf red and yellow mustards are very pretty and a great add to any salad.  Giant Red mustard is a great self-seeding variety that grows very large, maroon colored leaves.  You can harvest when they are small for salads or large for wilted greens.  

Lettuce and spinach are a mainstay of my garden.  I try and get as many months of fresh salads as I can.  In the late winter, I start planting lettuce and spinach seeds and plants.  In late spring, I resow heat tolerant varieties.  I sow the seed and cover lightly with soil.  In early fall, I sow cold hardy varieties.  Standby lettuce varieties are Simpson Elite, Red Romaine, Red Sails, and Oakleaf.  I begin to harvest when there are 6-8 leaves on the plant.  I take the outer leaves so the plant will continue to put on more leaves, extending the harvest for months.  I grow a row of spinach and a couple of rows of lettuce.  If you are growing spinach for cooking, you'll need many plants; as much as will cover a 4' by 6' area.  I grow only for fresh use.  I use fast growers like chard, dandelion and kale for cooked/steamed greens.  Grow spinach-a super nutritious, easy green    Everything you need to know about growing lettuce

If you are a fan of stronger and sturdier greens, there are also the chicories, endives, escaroles and radicchios. There are a variety of colors and textures to choose from.  They are grown as you would lettuce.  Chicories and radicchios are perennials so as long as you harvest the outer leaves, you'll have the plants year after year.  

A spring garden would not be complete without radishes.  They grow super fast.  I like the flavor of the white radishes.  For radishes, sow 1/2" deep in loose soil.  Many recommend sowing with carrots as the radishes will be harvested before the carrots start developing their root and both like the same soil.  If you are more of a turnip or beet fan, you can plant turnips or beets in with the radishes.  I usually grow a short row of radishes, beets and turnips combined.  I let me carrots go to seed and now I have volunteer carrots all over the garden.   Easy to grow crispy, peppery radishes  Grow crunchy, colorful carrots practically year round  All about beautiful beets  All about turnips

For artichoke lovers, spring is the season to put out your artichoke plants.  Artichokes are perennials and may not bud in the first season.  Be sure you get plants rated for your zone.  Violetta is a variety that is hardy up to Zone 6.  Plant after danger of frost, but early enough that it will still receive 10-12 days of temperatures under 50 degrees F.  It has to have this level of cold to induce budding.  

I like growing purple, blue and rose potatoes because they are unusual and you don't see them in the store that often.  They should be planted 4-6 weeks before your last frost.  That is mid-March for our area.  We like growing them in potato boxes my husband made.  We plant the tubers at the bottom of the box and just add soil as the leaves and stems grow.  Time to plant potatoes, even if you only have a patio

You can transplant any fruit trees or shrubs in the spring.  This is the season for strawberries.  Give them room to run.  Strawberries can fruit at different times so you can pick a variety to get an extended harvest.  I like Alpine strawberries.  They are small, but give many fruits over a long period of time and are very sweet.  Fruit for small spaces 

If you really have spring fever and starting seeds indoors just isn't scratching the itch, you can start peas outdoors right now.  You can start greens and root vegetables under cover as soon as the soil is workable. 
Extend the season with protection for plants

Saturday, March 20, 2021

What's happening in the late March edible garden

Daffodils and hyacinth blooming, daylilies sprouting
Saturday, March 20, 2021

Spring in our garden has come later this year.  We had a two week frigid spell with ice and snow in mid-February that slowed everything down.  Took a couple of weeks for the ground to thaw.  Daffodils, forsythias, hyacinths are in full bloom now.  The Bradford Pear and redbud trees are just starting to flower.  Seeing some in bloom in the area, but ours just have buds so far.  

When forsythias bloom, it is time to apply corn gluten for weed suppression in the garden and yard.  Corn gluten keeps seeds from sprouting and provides nitrogen.  It will also keep grass seed or garden seed from sprouting so use only where you don't want seeds to come up.

In the edible garden, onions, parsley, horseradish, carrots, cilantro, garlic, garlic chives, Bronze fennel, and chervil are all popping up in the garden bed.  Overwintering Giant Red mustard, celery, chard, lettuce, arugula, cress, sprouting broccoli, pok choi, cabbage and broccoli are growing again.  Chickweed is flowering.  The garden is giving greens for fresh picked salads.  

Cool season crop transplants are at the local nurseries and big box stores.  They have broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, onion sets, spinach, chard, beets, lettuce and more.  It's time to buy what you want for your spring garden and transplant!  
Overwintering cabbage and broccoli
I'll be buying lettuce and spinach to supplement what overwintered.  I'll also plant snow pea, lettuce and spinach seeds to keep the salad greens going through June.

They also have many herbs at the big box stores.  The ones that can be planted now are thyme, sage, garlic, parsley, and celery.  I'd hold off on the rosemary and especially the basil.  If it gets even close to freezing, basil can be killed in the garden.  You can buy and keep in a sunny window in the garage and they should be fine.

I saw tomatoes in the store, too.  I'd wait on those as well.  Tomatoes, peppers and eggplant all need warm days and warm soil to thrive.  A freeze can kill them.  I usually wait until May to plant these summer lovers.  

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Edible transplants have arrived!

Transplanted spinach

Sunday, March 14, 2021

For those that don't have a lot of time, are just getting started in gardening or just want a jump on harvests, transplants have arrived at the big box stores!  I start seed and buy transplants every year.  This time of year, I will purchase spinach plants and interesting lettuces.  I have seeds started as well, but purchasing plants will give me bigger plants to start harvesting from in a couple of weeks.

There were many herbs, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, onion sets, and lettuce plants outdoors yesterday here in our area.  There should be many more coming in the next couple of weeks.  Chard and spinach should be next.  The transplants you buy should be hardened off and ready to plant in the garden.

Inside the stores are racks of seeds and barefoot edibles and flowers.  You can buy onions, asparagus, all kinds of berry bushes and fruiting vines bare root.  Be sure to get any bare root plants into soil as soon as you can.  You can put them in a pot until your garden is ready for them.

I have been buying any shallots I see that are sprouting in the grocery store and planting those in the garden.   Root crops in the produce section are treated to not sprout so not all will grow.  The exception is organic; they aren't treated with chemicals.  If you buy ones that are sprouting, you have a good chance they will continue growing in your garden.

It's time to get planting!

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Time to start beets, broccoli and cauliflower seeds indoors

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Beets, broccoli and cauliflower are a cool season crops and great for spring gardens.  Beets are typically sown in place in the garden or pot, but can be started from seeds indoors and moved outdoors.

You can sow beet, broccoli and cauliflower seeds indoors now to transplant outside at the end of March, beginning of April in our Zone 7 garden.  All can be grown in the garden bed or in a pot.  If sowing seeds outdoors, they should be sown about 2 weeks before your last frost date.  Seed packets will provide instructions for the specific variety you are planting.   

Beets prefer a fertile, evenly moist soil, with a pH between 6-7.  Beet and chard seeds are multiform seeds which means that you can have two to five seedlings from each seed.  You will need to thin seedlings to the strongest plant.  Seeds should be sown 1/2" deep.  Seeds emerge in 5-17 days.  When placed outdoors, space 4" apart and add fertilizer.  If starting indoors, be careful to not damage the tap root when transplanting.  Beets are ready for harvest in 45-65 days, depending on variety.  Greens are great adds to salads as well.

Be sure to harvest beets as soon as they are the right size.  Summer temperatures can cause the root to become woody if left too long.  I have little pest problems with beets.  Pests that are attracted to beets are leaf miners, flea beetles and leaf hoppers.  Insecticidal soap is an effective spray for flea beetles if they become a problem.   For more on beets, All about beautiful beets

Broccoli and cauliflower have the same planting and care requirements.  Both prefer fertile, well drained soil with a pH between 6-7.  Plant seeds 1/4" deep.  Seedlings emerge in 5-17 days.  When planting in garden bed or pot, space 12" apart.  Set transplants out at the very end of March or beginning of April in our Zone 7 garden, 2 weeks before last frost date.  Keep evenly moist for best heads.

Days to harvest are 45-80 days, depending on variety.  Be sure to harvest as soon as heads are mature.  Will quickly begin to flower if left in the summer garden.  I consistently have cabbage worm or cabbage looper pests on my broccoli and cauliflower plants, beginning in late June.  Harvesting as soon as the heads are ready keeps the pests to a minimum.  The best organic spray I have found is Bt (bacillus thuringiensis).  Spray every 1-2 weeks as temperatures rise into the 80's.  Also, rotate crops to keep pest pressure down.

For more on growing broccoli and cauliflower,  How to grow broccoli and cauliflower

For all transplants, be sure to harden off to transition your seedlings from indoor conditions to the outdoors.  "Hardening off" seedlings

If you want to start seeds or plants outdoors sooner than the recommendation on your seed packet, you can use covers.  Extend the season with protection for plants     

For more on the spring edible gardening, Spring edible garden

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Time to plant kohlrabi seeds

Saturday, March 6, 2021 

Kohlrabi is a cool season lover and great for spring gardens.  It is the oldest member of the cabbage family so it is sown at the same time as cabbage.  It has a similar taste as broccoli.  All parts, including the bulb, are edible. 

You can sow kohlrabi seeds indoors now to transplant outside when there are 6-8 true leaves on the plant and temperatures are staying above 40 degrees.  Kohlrabi is usually sown in place outdoors in its long term spot.  It can be grown in the garden bed or in a pot.  Seeds should be sown outdoors about 4 weeks before your last frost or when the crocus blooms. 

Kohlrabi has low fertilizer needs and tolerate a wide range of soil types.  Sow seeds 1/4" deep, 3-8" apart from one another.  If growing more than 1 row, space rows 12-18" apart.  Seeds germinate in 5-17 days.  For extended harvest, succession plant every 2-3 weeks.  

Kohlrabi is ready to harvest in 42-70 days on average.  Harvest bulbs are 2-4" in diameter.  As temperatures warm, larger bulbs will get woody.  Kohlrabi can also be planted for the fall garden.  It can be left in the ground longer in the fall as the temperatures are getting cooler.

Kohlrabi leaves and stems are best sautéed or in stir fry.  The bulb can be eaten raw, roasted, sautéed, steamed or boiled and mashed like a potato.  Kohlrabi is full of nutrition so is a great add to any garden.   kohlrabi nutrients

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

What to plant in the March edible garden

March garden bed, ready for planting
Tuesday, March 2, 2021

March and April are prime time for cold season crops like greens, cabbage, kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts.  In March, you can direct sow (plant seeds in your outdoor pot or garden bed), start seeds indoors or transplant plants into your pot or garden bed.

Big box stores already have their seeds on display.  In our area, plants should be arriving this week in stores.  Our local Ace Hardware are expecting their first shipment of veggie plants next week end.  The variety available in big box stores continues to expand as more and more of us are growing our own food.  If you are wanting something unique, try on line seed companies. Some of my favorites with a good selection of organic vegetables, garden fruits, and herbs-Abundant Life Seeds, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, High Mowing Seeds, Johnny's Selected Seeds, Renee's Garden, Seeds of Change, Territorial Seed Company, Seeds from Italy, Botanical Interest.  

If you are not sure what to plant, here are some ideas on figuring that out.  How to know what to grow

Using indoor seed starting is a great way to accelerate your harvest by up to two months.  Seed packets tell you how far in advance of your last frost date to start your seeds indoors or when to plant outdoors for "direct sowing" in the garden.  Just look on the back. Here is a web page to look up your last frost date: Frost date look up

Cold season crops include your greens, broccoli, cabbage, strawberries and peas.  For more on spring gardens, see  A spring edible garden

March and April is also the time for warm season veggie and herbs to get their indoor start.  Summer veggies include beans, tomatoes, beans, basil, eggplant, peppers and squash.  Summer veggies go into the garden after chance of frost has passed and the soil has warmed.  In our area, that is first of May.  You don't really get an advantage in planting the summer veggies early because they don't grow until the ground warms up.  I just imagine them sitting in the dirt with their roots and stems shivering.  See this May blog on summer veggies for more info.   It's summer veggie planting time!

Start seeds in garden bed or transplant outdoors for our Zone 7 garden
Corn salad
Onions, if starting from seed
Pak choi
Summer savory

Start seeds indoors
Artichokes and cardoons
Bee balm
Lemon verbena
Seedlings started in an Aerogarden hydroponic system
You can find more crops seed starting times in this blog  Indoor sowing/outdoor planting dates

Another trick is to do succession seed starting.  For continuous harvests of veggies like broccoli, spinach and lettuce, start new seedlings every 3 weeks and plant out every three weeks in the garden.  For the early seedlings, use varieties that are described as cold hardy.  When you get to April, start seedlings that are heat tolerant.  Heat tolerant varieties will resist bolting and bitterness at the first sign of summer.  Get the most from your space-plant intensively!

You can also start perennial flowers and veggies indoors as well.  For any plant, look at the seed packet for when to plant outdoors according to your frost date.  Then back up the time from there on when to start indoors.  Typical seed starting is 6-8 weeks prior to the plant out date.  For more on perennial fruits and veggie gardens, Perennial veggies in the Midwest garden