These are strange times to find ourselves in, and I hope that you all are staying home as much as you can, and staying as safe as you can be. Crises such as these present opportunities at the same time as they threaten security, and there is definitely no better time to put work into your home garden than the present moment. From food security to psychological well-being, a home garden can offer some bit of stability in these increasingly uncertain times. With that being said, we are gearing up to get started on our spring plant deliveries, and have compiled this planting guide to help you along once you receive your spring starts and seeds.
We’ve just received the starts and seeds we’ll be delivering to you all from our partner nursery, and will be working on getting these out over the next couple of weeks. With your starts and seeds on the way, if you plan to amend your garden beds this year it’s important to start that process as soon as possible. If you grew a cover crop, such as a nitrogen-fixing clover or legume, or any other type of green manure, it’s crucial to allow for at least two weeks after chopping, dropping, and turning the beds over to let the cover crop break down before planting. If you didn’t plant a cover crop over the winter but still plan to amend your beds with compost, additional soil, or any other amendments, allowing at least a few days in between turning your beds over and planting will be sufficient.
Spring planting calls for cool-weather loving crops, bursting with the vibrant green color of the season. Our spring start and seed deliveries will focus on crops within the Brassica family, such as kale, collard greens, broccoli and cabbage, as well as chard and lettuce. We have not been able to get potatoes due to coronavirus closures, so our apologies. But you can always plant your organic potatoes from the grocery store! Many of these crops can be grown into the summer and through the hotter months of the year, but will be the healthiest and taste the best when grown in the cooler months of spring and fall. However, if you have a shadier garden, you might have great success growing these cool-weather crops for most of the year.
As with any plants, the initial care and attention you give your spring starts and seeds will have a significant impact on the long-term health, and productivity, of your crops. Paying extra careful attention to watering at the beginning will go a long way towards helping you grow the most food you possibly can. As well, you’ve got to put back what your plants take out, and as such if you amend your garden each year, either with a winter cover crop and/or compost in the spring, your crops will continue to be vibrant and highly productive year after year.
Once you’ve received your spring plant delivery, you should plant your starts and seeds according to the cultural requirements of each crop; for most spring crops, you should plant them as soon as the ground is workable, or not frozen. For those gardeners at higher elevations and with the chance of significant snowfall later in the year, this might require more careful attention to the changing weather patterns to determine when is the appropriate time to plant. All of our seed packets will include information on the back of the packet as to when to plant, related to the final frost of the year. If you have space to start seeds indoors, or in a greenhouse of some kind, this can be a great way to get a jump start on your planting and get the biggest and most productive crops you can.
When planting your starts, it’s important to give each plant enough space to grow and thrive. This will vary from crop to crop, but most of the starts we are giving out right now will benefit from similar spacing. For optimum growth, you should space your cabbage, kale, collards, chard, broccoli, and lettuce between 12-24” inches apart. While there is something to be said for high density planting, following the aforementioned spacing guideline will allow for your crops to grow as big as they can. When planting your starts, use your hand or a trowel to make a hole just deep enough to bury the plant to the point where the stem leaves the soil. Lightly tamp down the area around the plant, and then water in thoroughly.
In these especially uncertain times, we feel that our mission of getting more people to grow more of their own food is more important than ever before. We’re happy to be getting these plants and seeds out to you all, and to provide whatever sort of guidance and direction we can to help you along in your path towards increasing self-sufficiency. Stay safe out there, we’ll see you soon!
By David Fernandez