Getting Started in the Garden


| 3/31/2017 8:21:00 AM


Tags: cold hardy gardening, early spring gardening, cold tolerant crops, Celeste Longacre, New Hampshire,

Spring is here and thoughts are turning towards the garden. In northern areas, many think that it is necessary to wait for Memorial Day Weekend before the seeds can be sown. While that is true of the tender crops like tomatoes, peppers and squash, there are lots of vegetables that don't mind a bit of frost. I always begin with these individuals and by the time it has really warmed up, I'm ready to plant the sensitive ones.

I prepare the ground by first removing any sticks and leaves that came down over the fall and winter. Next, I dust some kelp meal and organic alfalfa meal over the surface. An inch or two of compost or well-rotted manure is added to that. Then, I loosen the soil by forking it up with a broad fork or a pitchfork. I never turn it over. In nature, leaves fall to the ground and decompose from the top down. Trees don't rototill their leaves above their roots. This allows the worms, micro-organisms, bacteria, fungi and other soil creatures to maintain their domains and pathways. I then gently rake it flat.

Peas and Snow Peas Love Cold Weather

pea plant with peas

I broadcast them meaning that I throw them all over the ground not just in rows. James Crockett used to say, “If you are stingy with your peas, they will be stingy with you.” So I throw down lots of peas. I then use my fingers to push them down an inch or so into the soil, dusting some neighboring soil over them. Peas need something to climb on so it's best to set up some tomato cages, trellises, chicken wire or sticks right in the bed.

Lettuce Comes Next

broadcast lettuce

I prepare a whole bed, but I only plant a couple of feet at a time. Lettuce gets bitter and goes to seed, so I plant it every ten days to two weeks all summer long. I also broadcast these seeds. The early thinnings go to the chickens, but once they are the size of a tablespoon, I bring them in and eat them.

Kale, Broccoli, Cabbage and Brussels Sprouts Follow

broccoli with lemon gem marigold underneath




dairy goat

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