The weather is relenting; the cold retreating. Birds are singing and trees are putting on their Spring buds. It’s gardening season and I have some tips for you on how to make the most of the next two months.
Outside, it’s cool weather crop planting time in Zone 6A or 6B or whatever USDA is calling it now. For me, that means putting in lettuce seeds in the old truck bed and sowing beet seeds. I’ll keep both watered by hand (a hose would still freeze solid) for the next 2 to 3 weeks while their hard hulls soften, crack and start to reach for the sun.
Inside, I’ve transplanted the baby kale to small pots and given them a quick feed. They’ve been moved out of the basement to join the lettuce I started inside and I’m now hardening them off. Both are starting to go outside for quick visits with the sun and the wind.
Meanwhile, back in the basement, the tomato and pepper seeds I started in cells just got transplanted into cow pots (which I got online at a great price).
These babies will stay in the basement, growing, being fanned and fed, until the first week of May when they will take their place in my office and begin their hardening off process.
NOTE: I used to harden plants off haphazardly. Dangerous! The seedlings you worked and worried over will quickly die if they are not properly introduced to the great outdoors – an hour a day for 2 days, 2 to 3 hours a day for 2 to 3 days, 8 hours a day for 3 days and only then (and only if it’s not hailing or very windy) do they get their first overnight!
DOUBLE NOTE: I also used to hurry and plant my babies by May 7th or 8th. Frequently, the ground was too cold for warm weather crops like tomatoes and peppers and they simply stopped growing for a couple of weeks (or forever in some cases). Putting plants in the ground too early can be deadly so give the soil a chance to warm while you get your plants ready for the great outdoors.
If you don’t want to start bedding plants from seed and you happen to live in Amish country or near some old, established nurseries, go check out their plants. Maple Shade Nursery in Kirkwood, PA is Amish run and you can watch the women tease baby plants apart and re-pot them right at the register.
In the Spring, I can get an early fix just by visiting and strolling through their greenhouses. I supplement my seedlings with theirs and I buy herb plants from them like my Bay “bush”.
“Bay-by” was in a 3 inch pot when I bought her but now, 5 years later, she graces my desk with her splendid inch wide trunk, stands a foot high and provides me with fresh, tasty bay leaves for my soups and stews.
I simply bring her in during the winter then set her out on the patio for late Spring, Summer and early Fall.
FYI – the reason I avoid big box stores when it comes to getting bedding plants is because I have NO idea where the seed came from (I want organic and no GMO) or what they’ve been fed.
Want to learn more about organic gardening? Want to see just how easy it is to grow your own, healthy and organic food. Take a look at my Kindle book – Grow So Easy; Organic Gardening for the Rest of Us.