In Your Plot ... By Lorna Mitchell
Source: Green Valley Gardeners, Sand and Seed Newsletter, April, 2022
Spring planting time is NOW! Savor the aroma of freshly churned soil in the cool morning air as you anticipate those tiny plants filling your plot. Winter’s erratic temperatures should settle down this month and allow for our tender seedlings to get established.
The earthworms are active in the warming soil and we need to be too: digging soil with amendments of compost and complete fertilizer, removing old roots, grubs, and weeds, breaking up clods, re-establishing irrigation tubing and clocks, and shopping for seeds and plants.
Stores are stocked with a wide variety of both cool and warm season plant choices. You have to distinguish what will thrive. Leaf lettuce is a cool crop that we can grow year round because it grows so quickly and the leaves are harvested young; chard will also often survive the summer. While you are buying seeds for spring planting think what you might want to plant in August and October and consider buying packets of parsnips, turnips, cabbage, broccoli, kale, peas, cauliflower, carrots, beets, and chard now while they are available. Keep them in a cool place, NOT in the garage or in your locker at the garden where they will get hot and they will wait patiently for you to put them in the ground.
Seeds for squashes, beans, cucumbers, radish, melons, okra, corn, etc., can go in the ground now. Soaking the seeds in water 12-24 hours before planting can hasten germination. Read the package as to depth and spacing of seeds. Keep the ground moist, not soupy or dry, with a few minutes of watering several times each day. Covering the seed bed for a couple of weeks with a porous white cloth can help get seedlings established but remove it when the young plants push against it.
Transplants of tomato can be set out anytime; bury the stem up to the growing leaves, new roots will grow from the buried stem and offer more support and nutrient intake. Water once with a nutrient solution such as Miracle Grow but mix it up at half the concentration on the label and keep the soil moist at all times. These new little babies will need TLC for a couple weeks; check them often, a lot can go wrong.
Transplants of peppers, eggplant, and okra like warmer soil and prefer to wait until the middle of April to grow outside. Check all transplants and remove hitchhikers like aphids or insect eggs. Allow for room to grow and expand and add supports within the next few weeks while it still fits over easily.
We should see activity in our onions this month as they begin storing food and enlarging the bulb. Garlic needs to stay in the ground until late May or June.
For more details and tips on successful summer gardening in the heat attend my seminar on April 14 at Desert Hills auditorium 9:30 a.m.