Thursday, March 27, 2008
I once attended a gardening workshop sponsored by a church women's organization. A sweet, soft-spoken lady in her 80s offered the meeting's invocation asking, among things, that we be spared of snow "so our gardens can grow."
Chuck was the guest speaker. He was tall and burly and sunburned in spring, just the kind of thing you'd expect from a no-nonsense kind of guy who loves the land. As soon as the "amens" were offered he immediately stood and started speaking with a passion. "Now, I've get to set something straight. Nothing against that prayer, " he said almost as an afterthought, perhaps glancing at the quailing grandma, "but you CAN have a garden do well if it snows."
The secret, he taught us, is to plant the right crops at the right time. Cool-season crops can weather light to moderate frosts and include spinach, radishes, turnips, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, peas, lettuce and mustard greens. In fact, these crops can't tolerate high summer temperatures, so are best planted early anyway. Beets and carrots can also be planted early, but unlike their other cool-season friends, hold up better through the summer. Cool-season crops can be planted at the end of summer for a second harvest in the fall.
So get planting! Cool-season crops can be planted as soon as you can work the soil (meaning it's not frozen solid or too muddy to dig). If you haven't yet prepared a garden plot, try a container. That's where I have the spinach you see in my photo, taken March 27. Broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage work best as transplants you start indoors, the others you can sow directly into the ground or outside pot.
If you haven't already, now's the time to get your tomato, pepper, melon, herb and squash seeds started indoors for transplanting after the last frost date for your area. Your local extension service can tell you when this date is.