Puttering In The Potager -Week 17,
(Week 17 is April 26th to May 2nd)
It is time to boogie! On April 19th my peas, beets, spinach, radish, and lettuce seeds have germinated and have all shown themselves in the garden. Better than that, my soil temperature has reached 61° which means I can now plant more of what we call the cool loving plants in the cabbage family as well as one of my favorites – Swiss chard.
While I will still be planting succession seeds for radish, beets, carrots, spinach every three weeks or so most of my plants for the spring season will be purchased as seedlings at the garden center. So in the next week I will be planting cabbage, kohlrabi, Swiss chard, and some herbs.
So now I have two jobs. I need to harden off the seedlings I have purchased by keeping them outside during the day but bringing them inside at night if there is a threat of frost. This exposes them to wind and to fluctuating temperatures before they are stuck into the soil.
At the same time I am setting up a number of walls of water in which I plan to house some of my new seedlings; but not all of them. I have four cabbage seedlings. I will plant only two in walls of water. That way I will have two heads of cabbage maturing two or three weeks before the unprotected heads of cabbage mature. Pretty sneaky, huh?
Tips When Buying Seedlings
If you buy transplants from the garden center, choose seedlings with perky, rich green foliage and thick, sturdy stems. Avoid plants like tomatoes that already have flowers, as they are likely to be suffering stress. Make sure there are no woody patches on the main stem that may indicate that seedlings were over-watered or over-fertilized in the greenhouse.
Planting Vegetable Seedlings
Seedlings should be at least four weeks old and have two to four leaves and a stem half as thick as a pencil. Plant them about two to three weeks before the expected last frost date for your area. You can plant those same seedlings p to three weeks past th last frost. Mix slow-acting granular fertilizer into the soil when you prepare the planting area. Dig holes in the planting bed about 12 inches apart, depending on the crop.
While these seedlings can handle cool weather, it is best to protect them from a surprise late frost. Be prepared to cover the tender plants temporarily with white polyspun garden fleece or newspaper cloches. Better yet as I am doing, plant some of them in Walls O Water to be absolutely protected from unexpected frosts; especially hard frosts.
When I start seeds for succession planting, — veggies such as beets, carrots, spinach, lettuce, and radishes — with Nancy’s close instruction and supervision I soak the seeds I intend to plant ahead of time. As you can see in the photo we wrap up the seeds in a folded paper towel that has been soaked in warm, strong tea. The seeds in the photo have been soaking for only two days and as you can see the radish seeds have already sprouted. Today they go in the ground. Three weeks from now I will do the same thing.
Nature Report for Week 17
The feisty little house wrens return; put a wren house near your garden and thousands of pest insects will disappear during the season. Baltimore orioles return; they love oranges.