Monday, March 1, 2010

It is Almost Planting Time In The Northeast

In the the North, the ground is frozen and not ready for planting until mid March or later. Planting of cold crops like cabbage, lettuce, broccoli, spinach, kale, collard greens, carrots, potatoes etc. may be done outside as soon as the ground can be worked. Frost will not hurt these plants. For the following plants, I buy seedlings at the nursery that have been grown in greenhouses and plant in Mid May. Depending on the weather in April or early May I purchase seedlings for tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, broccoli, cabbage and strawberries. Some plants germinate and grow quickly in the warm ground so I plant by seed after danger of frost. These plants include cucumbers, green beans, lima beans, carrots all varieties of squash, and okra. Geenerally, it is important to have all plants in the ground by the 15th of May.
If you live in a Northern location, it is time to purchase your seed and begin planting indoors now if you are planting cool crops. There is a colored coded guide found on the backs of almost all seed packets. This guide suggests when to plant that particular produce in certain areas. True farmers begin planning gardens while the ground is still frozen. Seedlings are growing at this very moment under greenhouse covers. The healthy seedlings that we purchase and set out are already growing in flats.
It is much cheaper to grow vegetables from seed. In some parts of the country the growing season is not long enough to make this feasible. In that case plants are sown in greenhouses and indoors in pots under lights and planted outside when the weather and warmth of the ground allows. My parents grew everything from seed, because the planting season began in early March and sometimes February. Sometimes the beds were covered with plastic sheets to give the seeds the much need warmth necessary to germinate. Most Farmers used the Farmer's Almanac and planted on the Moon.

Cold crops cannot stand the heat of the summer and are usually harvested or mulched heavily before the harsh summer heat.
Cool Season Crops – The planting time is nearly here in the north…if planting seeds…start them inside now, otherwise purchase seedlings in your local nursery.
Cabbage: start inside and plant outside when danger of severe frost is over. It likes cool weather
Spinach, lettuce, kale, mustard greens: Sow directly outside as early in spring as possible.
Brussel sprouts and collard greens are late crops and are sweetened by a light frost. Southern farmers did not begin to eat collards until it had been touched by a light frost. It is much more palatable. Farmers seldom removed leaves from and established plant and cooked that way. The entire plant was harvested after being hit by a frost. The collards touched by frost cook faster, are lighter green in color when cooked and have a sweeter taste. Broccoli is sometimes considered a two season crop and is planted in succession. One is planted in early spring (seeds sown inside in green house flats) as soon as the ground can be worked and is harvested in the summer months.
Broccoli does not like hot summers. The second planting is done directly in the garden after danger of severe frost. Kale is considered an all season crop and is not harmed by frost or the cold. We sometimes harvested it in the snow. We also dug into the softening ground to find carrots that had been missed in earlier harvests.
Plan your gardening now. Decide what you are going to plant by seed and what you will plant as seedlings. You have to get ahead of the weather. You might even want to find a copy of the Farmer’s Almanac.

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