The Spring Garden Is Right Around the Corner
Signs of spring are all around us. The daffodils are getting ready to bloom. The buds on trees are swelling. For gardeners, that means one thing – it’s time to plant the spring garden.
Beginning gardeners may not realize that in North Carolina, some vegetables can be grown in late winter and early spring. These vegetables are ones that grow best at 50-70ºF. Examples include beets, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, lettuce, potatoes, and carrots.
Most crops that perform well in the spring gardens can also be grown in the fall. However, in the spring, there tends to be less disease and insect problems, because pests haven’t had time to develop yet.
Vegetables can be either transplanted or seeded directly into the garden. Some crops like peas, radish, beets, turnips, kohlrabi, and carrots, do best when direct seeded. Spring vegetables that do best when transplanted include broccoli, cabbage, collards, and kale.
Root crops, like radishes, potatoes, beets, turnips, and carrots, do best when grown in deep, loose soil so that their roots can expand with little resistance. If you have heavy clay soil, consider amending it with compost or growing in a raised bed.
Garden peas and their relatives, snow peas and sugar snap peas, can be sown directly in the garden. Garden peas love cool weather and can be sown outdoors as early as January.
Potatoes are a spring crop that is easy to grow and stores well. For best results, plant certified seed potatoes, which can be purchased from garden centers. Certified seed potatoes are small potatoes that have been grown under special conditions to ensure they are free of diseases. They usually give better results than potatoes purchased from the grocery store.
Cool season crops don’t perform well when the weather gets warmer. Many gardeners who have planted these crops in late spring have experienced this.
When the weather warms, cool season crops think it’s time to set a flower and die. So when it gets hot, you’ll see things like broccoli, lettuce, cabbage, and kale send up a tall flower stalk, or “bolt.” When your vegetables get to this point, it’s time to pull them up and start the summer garden.
The official start of spring is only five weeks away. It will be here before you know it, so get out and plant that garden.
For a crash course in vegetable gardening in the Carolinas, attend the Vegetable Gardening 101 course I’ll be offering at the Caldwell County Public Library in Lenoir. This free event will take place from 3 to 5 p.m. on March 24. Call 828-757-1290 to register.
For more information on when to plant vegetables and herbs, download a planting guide online at http://go.ncsu.edu/plantcal or call the Caldwell Extension Service at 828-757-1290 for a copy.