It's Time! Spring Gardening 101

March 3, 2021

Hey everybody! Thanks for checking in today.

A few weeks ago I wrote about early spring gardening - how to get started and why to do it. Today I'm going to help you actually get started with ideas on veggies, including recommendations for varieties and planting dates.

To get started, you'll want to find out in which gardening/planting zone you live. That's easily done by clicking the sight and plugging in your zip code. Based on your zone you'll get lots of recommendations. I'm in zone 7A or 6B (depending on which year you go by - different years have different maps. I think they switched maps in the 1990s) so that will be the recommendations I give for the most part. If you're slightly to the north or south you can use my recommendations or go a few weeks earlier (for southern neighbors) or a wait a few weeks (for those of you to my north - hello Southwest Virginia).

I planted my garden this past weekend and finished early this week. I will say up front I'm several weeks behind my usual schedule, but truly, we have been so wet with all this rain! My raised beds are still so soggy and just absolutely bogged down with water, but I really hope the seeds will germinate and my plants grow. I'll keep you updated on that.

Anyway, I worked my soil and added some amendments (a bit of biochar, some old chicken poop from the brooder and compost from our compost pile - I have written in detail about how to make your own compost pile in an earlier blog post about decreasing your waste). I have 4 full beds planted now. My beds are as follows:

  1. My first bed has beet seeds, spinach and lettuce. My beet variety this year is Detroit Dark Red. I plant beet seeds directly in the soil approximately 1/2 inch deep in a row and should have beets ready to eat from the seeds in approximately 55-60 days. I have also planted seeds of Bloomsdale spinach and Buttercrunch lettuce in rows and should have both ready to cut with scissors in about 5-6 weeks. By cutting with scissors you'll be able to have successive cuttings throughout the spring and early summer, until it gets too hot for the spinach and lettuce. At that time I go back in and plant Black Seeded Simpson lettuce, which is more heat tolerant and will give you nice lettuce all summer long.
  2. My second bed for the spring is filled with kale and Swiss Chard. I planted both transplants and seeds for the kale because I like different varieties of kale for different applications and this will give me kale ready for harvest at different times (let's be honest, how much kale do you need in a day? Probably not too much). My seeds are Lacinato Kale and transplants are just "curly" kale from our local plant store which they started in their greenhouse. My Swiss Chard (probably my very favorite veggie!!!!! My love for chard cannot be over-exaggerated) is an heirloom colorful chard (I think Red Magic? Sorry, I threw the seed envelope away). I'll be able to cut from my transplants of kale in a few weeks (I could actually have "micro greens" now from my kale cutting) and from my seeds in about 55-60 days and my Swiss Chard should be ready for harvest in the same time as the seeds from the kale.
  3. My third bed is filled with cabbage and broccoli. I used transplants for both. I used the Packman variety of broccoli and Flat Dutch cabbage and both should be ready in about 45-50 days, if the cabbage worms don't eat them all first! (Because we don't use chemicals or sprays on our plants we have lots of pests. I fight them as often as I can but honestly it's a battle every year.)
  4. My last bed is filled with radishes. I use radishes for soil amendments as well as a little bit for pickling. Again, as with kale, how many radishes do you need??? Not much. But radishes grow quickly, are very nutritious and are the powerhouses for the soil. I broadcast cherry belle radish seeds and they are ready to harvest in 22 days. That's less than a month!

So that's the picture of my early spring garden for zone 7A. I will plant carrots in a few days or weeks but I couldn't find good seeds for the Atlas carrots I like to grow. Atlas carrots are the cutest - they're round little carrots about the size of golf balls. They're great for folks who have dense soils or shallow beds and kids love to eat them because of their shape. I started growing them when Marshall was a baby and they're so fun I just keep going with them. I'll put them in the ground when I can find them (darn Coronavirus!).

I hope this helps answer some questions about which plants to grow, what neighbors to surround them with and how long it will be before you're eating your bounty!


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