Ah, spring is coming soon! Now is the time to test your soil, get your garden beds ready for planting, and plan your spring garden.
You can take a soil sample to your local county co-op extension office to have it tested or buy a do-it-yourself kit at any big box store or local nursery. You can do a more extensive soil test by sending your soil sample off. Here is a link to my blog on soil nutrition. If you don’t want to go to the trouble of testing, a sure way to enrich your soil is to use a balanced organic fertilizer and compost. I add organic material every spring, building the soil’s fertility and ability to hold water. A local CSA and organic gardener told me a few years ago that it is important to not let your fertilizer just lay on top of the ground as many of the nutrients will be lost. This spring, we will put down an organic fertilizer Re-Vita Pro 5-4-4, a layer of mushroom compost and top with mulch. You can make your own, too, if Re-Vita isn't available in your area, make your own all natural, complete fertilizer.
What I Am Planting This March• Green Oakleaf lettuce: ready to harvest in 45 days
• Wild garden kales: ready to harvest in 30 days
• Mesclun Valentine lettuce mix (red tinted lettuce and greens): ready to harvest in 30-55 days
• Marvel of Four Seasons butterhead lettuce (I love the sweet taste of butterheads): ready to harvest in 55 days
• Short-top Icicle radish (a white, mild radish that looks like a white carrot): ready to harvest in 28 days
• Space Hybrid Spinach: ready to harvest in 38 days
• Gourmet-Blend lettuce (Prizeleaf, Royal Oak Leaf, Salad Bowl, Ashley): ready to harvest in 45 days
• Sugar snap peas: ready to harvest in 70 days
• all kinds of broccoli: ready to harvest in 50-80 days (leaves are great in salads)
• cabbage: ready to harvest in 68 days.
These can be companion planted with beets, chives, garlic and onions. Since they are shallow rooted, they grow well with root crops. When I plant in pots, I water in with fish emulsion. Germination should take anywhere from 4-15 days. I am sure I will be out there looking for little green shoots daily. Important tip: if planting seeds in a mulched bed, be sure to cover the seed with only soil; seedlings are sometimes too weak to push through mulch.
Zone 6 Spring Garden Road Map
Planting Your Seedlings Outdoors:• Now (or as soon as the soil can be worked)-fruit trees and vines, nut trees, asparagus, garlic
• March 31st-cabbage, leeks, lettuce, okra, onions, mustards
• April 7th: lettuce, lemon balm, parsley
• April 14th: broccoli, cauliflower, thyme
• April 21st: sage
• May 5th: basil, chives, cucumbers, tomatoes
• May 12th: cantaloupe, eggplant, marigolds, pepper
Starting Your Seeds Outdoors:• Now (or as soon as the soil can be worked): peas and spinach
• Mid-March: arugula, bok choy, cabbage, carrot, collards, leeks, lettuce, mache, green onions.
• End March: fava beans, beets, broccoli, carrot, Chinese cabbage, cress, kale, kohlrabi, leek, mizuna, parsley, parsnip, seed potatoes, turnip
One thing to watch out for is planting seeds too soon. Seeds have to have a certain soil temperature to sprout. Plant too soon and the seed will rot and not sprout. Here are some soil temp guidelines: Seed Starting Temps.
Starting Your Seeds Indoors for Summer Planting:• Now-chives, leeks, lemon balm, onions, parsley, sage, thyme, lettuce, cress, mustard, chard
• March 17th: basil, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, okra, marigolds, eggplant
• March 31st: cantaloupe, cucumber, lettuce, peppers, tomatoes
These dates are just guidelines. You can start your seedlings later and plant your transplants later as well. Be sure to read the seed packet for what you are starting. They make all kinds of varieties that are cold hardy that can be planted sooner.
For more tips on organic gardening in small spaces and containers, see Melodie's blog at Victory Garden on the Golf Course.
All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.