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BONNIE'S GARDEN--When to Plant Summer Vegetables

The days are getting longer and milder and I can’ wait to plant my summer veggies—but I’d better!  Those cold nights we had a couple of weeks ago in March have kept the soil temperatures down and the weather forecast, even for this coming week, has some night temperatures dipping down to 40.  And, of course, just last year, we had a hard freeze April 29th!

But that little tomato plant in the 6” pot looks so fat and pretty, you’re thinking!  So get it—and keep it in that nice little 6” pot for a few more weeks.  You’ll be glad you did—especially if Mother Nature pulls another surprise blitz like she did last year.

I never ever commit my tender summer veggies to the ground until May 1—or later.  Vegetables like green beans and sweet potatoes I don’t even plant before mid-May—they don’t like soil temperatures below 75.  And because cucumbers, squash, melons, and pumpkins grow so quickly from seeds, I’ll simply direct sow those in my garden the first week of May.

Still, as anxious as I am to play in my garden, there are things I can plant now.  Asparagus can go in right now.  Remember, asparagus is a perennial so plant it where it can come back for years.  All it needs is a sunny spot.  Rhubarb is another perennial that can go in now—in full to part-sun.

Potatoes should be planted now, too.  This year, I’m going to try growing potatoes in a plastic trash bag.  Take a 30 gallon plastic trash bag, cut several slits in the bottom for drainage, and roll the top down.  Fill about a third of the bag with soil, then place seed potatoes on top—making sure eyes are pointing up.  Cover with two or three inches of soil. 

When the tops are up 7 or 8 inches, cover all but the tips with more soil.  Continue to do this—unrolling the bag as you add more soil.  Potatoes will be ready to harvest when the tops begin to brown and die back.  At this point, stop watering and allow potatoes to “cure” another 2 to 3 weeks before removing from the bag.  This is going to be a new one for me.  If you decide to try it, let me know how you do.

Onions, garlic, and shallots can all be planted now.  They all prefer a sunny spot.  If you’re growing onions for “spring” onions, you can grow them in a window box, planting the sets about an inch apart.  You can use them whenever the green top is a little bigger around than a pencil.  If you’re growing onions for slicers, then plant in the ground, spacing 3 or 4 inches apart.  You can harvest onions when the tops begin to fall over.  Be sure to allow them to air-dry for at least a couple of weeks once harvested.

I’ve already got strawberries planted in a strawberry jar on my back deck and a few extras tucked into a hanging basket.  I wish I had enough sun left in the yard to plant them in the ground, but I don’t.  At least, they grow well in containers.  I won’t get enough to make jam but it’ll still be fun to grab a couple here and there when I’m out in the yard.

So be patient a little while longer before planting tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, eggplant, peppers, etc.  In the meantime, find space to tuck in some potatoes, onions, or strawberries.
Posted: 4/4/2017 by Bonnie Pega | with 0 comment(s)
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