Cool Season Crops for Early Spring Planting
The thought of a dreary winter giving way to gorgeous spring weather got you itchin' to grow something? Here are some wonderful vegetable crops for early spring planting to look forward to:
Sow seeds outdoors as soon as the soil can be worked. Plant seeds 1/2 inch deep and 1 inch apart in rows about 1 foot apart. Once the seedlings are about 1 inch tall, thin to 3 to 4 inches between plants. Both roots and tops are edible. Harvest in 60 to 80 days.
Give broccoli a well drained soil. Dig in compost to your broccoli rows and add about 1 pound of 5-10-10 fertilizer for every 25 feet of row. Start inside in March or April or sow outside as soon as the soil can be worked. Sow seeds outside 1/2 inch deep and 6 inches apart, in rows 2 feet apart. Thin to one plant every 18 inches after the seedlings grow to several inches tall.
Start cabbage seeds indoors in March or April. Put cabbage seedlings in the garden when they have 3 to 5 leaves. Then bury them deep, even covering the bottom set of leaves. Cabbage needs an especially rich soil. Fertilize once a month by spreading a 10-10-10 fertilizer around the base of each plant. Cabbage does best if grown in early spring and fall. Be sure to rotate where you plant cabbage in the garden each year. Cabbage is susceptible to a number of fungal infections, and by moving it to a different spot in the garden each year, you can keep infections in check. Also, cabbage is susceptible to caterpillar damage. An effective caterpillar control is Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis), which is an organic insecticide obtained at almost any garden supply center. Ideal pH 6.0 - 7.0.
Carrots can be started outside as soon as the soil is workable. Plant seeds 1/2 inch deep, in rows about 1 foot apart. You can plant a row every 2 weeks until mid-summer, for continual harvest. Plant carrots in a loose soil that has had any rocks and clumps removed. If you have a heavy, compacted soil, you can still grow carrots by making a raised bed. Raise up about 6 inches of soil to form a row, and scatter the carrot seeds over the top. Carrots should be planted about 2 inches apart. Give then a fertilizer rich in P and low in N... too much N takes away the sweet flavor. Water regularly just enough to keep the soil moist. Avoid letting the soil dry out completely as this can cause the carrots to split. Ideal pH 5.5 - 6.5.
Onion seeds can be started outside as soon as the soil is workable. Plant seeds 1/2 inch deep, 1 inch apart, in rows 10 to 12 inches apart. Thin to 2 inches apart when the seedlings are several inches tall. Onions need a deep soil with lots of fertilizer. Add manure to the soil before sowing seeds.
Radishes like plenty of water and will grow faster if you never let the soil dry out. Sow seeds outdoors as soon as the soil can be worked. Plant the seeds 1/2 inch deep in rows about 6 inches apart. Keep them protected from hot afternoon soil by planting in a spot where they will have afternoon shade. Plant a 6 foot row every other row for a continual supply. Ideal pH 6.0- 7.0.
Grow in early spring or fall. Spinach prefers cool conditions and will wither in hot summer heat. Water regularly and prevent the soil from drying out by using a mulch. Spinach does well when planted where it will receive afternoon shade. Fertilize weekly until the plants are about 3 inches tall. Ideal pH 6.5 -7.0.