From the Gardens Registrar: Cool Weather Plant Sale, How to Start Your Garden, When to Plant, and Where’s the Water?
COOL WEATHER PLANT SALE - On SUNDAY, April 23, Scott Williams, with Garden To Be in Mount Horeb, will be bringing cool weather plants to sell at Eagle Heights, near the shed, from 11am – 1pm. Scott has sold plants to our gardeners for many years, and he knows what people like to buy. His plants are good quality, and his prices are excellent. Scott will be bringing: Broccoli, Cabbages, Napa, Parsley, Kales, Collards, Sorrel, Alpine Strawberries, Swiss Chard, Chives, Lettuces, Brussels Sprouts, and probably a few other vegetables. He may also bring rhubarb plants. We ran out of seeds for many of these plants at the Seed Fair, so this is a good opportunity to get these vegetables at a reasonable price. These are vegetables that can be planted now, while the weather is still cool. There will be a warm weather plant sale in May.
How to Start Your Garden – Many gardeners have already dug up their gardens, turning over the soil, and pulling out weeds. They then smooth over the dirt, and start planting. However, another approach is to not dig the soil at all. A “no-till” garden is less work, and it can be better for the soil. With this method, you cover your garden with mulch and other material, and then plant into that.
The garden plot I was assigned last year had been abandoned before the end of the prior season, and was pretty weedy. We put down big pieces of cardboard, then newspaper, then leaf compost. We saved ourselves a lot of weeding and work. If you’re interested in the idea, here is a link to some information: http://northernhomestead.com/no-till-gardening-methods/
When to Plant – Although we’ve been having warm weather lately, it is still very early spring. We will probably still have some cold days and nights for another month. But it’s a good time to plant peas, lettuce, carrots, beets, radishes, onions, and other root crops, and members of the cabbage family. These can grow in cold soil, and can stand some light frost.
If you are growing tomatoes, peppers, or eggplants from seed, this is a good time to start those seeds – but inside, in pots. Those can’t be planted outside until all threat of frost is past – it should be safe by mid-May. This is a good, simple introduction to starting seeds inside: http://www.gardenguides.com/3021-starting-seeds-indoors.html
Some seeds, such as beans, won’t germinate well until the soil is actually warm, so it’s too early for those, as well. You could start them inside in pots, but they’re most often seeded directly into the garden. Summer and winter squashes, and melons should also wait another month.
There is lots of good information on the backs of seed packets – you can’t go far wrong by following the seed companies’ instructions.
WATER – We cannot turn on the water in the gardens until the threat of frost is past. The exact date will depend on the weather, but when our garden worker thinks it’s safe, I’ll let everybody know. In the meantime, you’ll have to carry water in to the gardens if you’re planting.