With the start to spring being so late this year, we gardeners have been spinning in a tizzy to complete all the work in time for planting spring crops. For us, our pre-planting work has included hauling tons of compost to our many growing beds and loosening the soil with the super-awesome broadfork. While I use the broadfork, I make sure to thoroughly remove any overwintered weeds – usually grass roots. (The kids make sure to collect the worms to feed to the chickens; very important spring work.) We have also been reconfiguring some beds that were too wide, not allowing enough room for picking the berry fence line. The dismantling of the seven year old strawberry patch has also begun – weeding, more weeding, amending and replanting is on the agenda!
All that work is coming along and I’m in heaven with my hands in the dirt again. Everything else is going well, too! The perennials are popping up, we’ve already been bringing in POUNDS of asparagus, the flower buds on the pear tree will soon be opening, the heat-loving crops are thriving in the greenhouse, the chickens are ecstatic that the snow is gone and spring planting is well underway! LIFE!
All this compost shoveling had my planting pushed back further than I would have liked, but I’m catching up! I have planted broccoli, cauliflower, kale, napa cabbage, pac choi, leeks, raddichio, carrots, turnips, onions and the ever-beloved peas. I will note that those peas went in the ground a whole almost TWO MONTHS behind our pea-planting date of last year! Ahhh Minnesota. I still have sooooo many more things to plant, and more broad forking and weeding to do. I have considered skipping some of the spring plants altogether, because look at that forecast. We jumped right into summer temps! No 40s, no 50s. Don’t get me wrong, I love 70s and sunny, but the lettuce sure doesn’t, and I’m not holding out any hope for that raddichio. I find that the best way to learn, is just to experiment, though. So, I’m still going ahead with the spring plants and it will be interesting to taste or see the difference from years with longer stretches of cool temps. It will also probably serve as a motivation to me in future years to get those cool season crops in right away!
There is well-intended advice going around in gardening groups and forums that we northern growers should not plant unil Mother’s Day. I cannot emphasize enough that this is FALSE! It is true of your heat-loving tomatoes, but there are many, many prized garden gems that should go in sooner. It is not even true that it is less risky to wait to plant until then. In fact, you are risking a good harvest by putting your cool-loving crops in so late into May. They will not grow as well, or taste as good in the heat that June brings. So, if you haven’t started planting, and you want a solid lettuce head or a bowlful of sweet peas, best get on it as soon as you can! If a frost does come along, your hardy plants will weather well with a covering of a sheet or row cover. Be sure to check out my solid list of cold-hardy veggies to see what else you can plant right now.
What is growing in your spring garden?