By Tim Baland
The thoughts of most people – especially gardeners – have turned toward spring these days, especially with the warmer weather we have been having lately. We are sorely tempted by catalogs that show pictures of vegetables in full bloom or ready for harvest. What should you do to get your vegetable garden ready for spring?
Most importantly, plan which vegetables you are going to grow in your garden. For Minnesota, with our shorter growing season, you should choose varieties with shorter maturity dates – I typically look for 90 days or less. Height of the plant, whether it sprawls all over the place or is well-contained, and depth of the root structure may be considerations as well. If you are going to start vegetables indoors, you will probably want to set up your equipment and test it to make sure that everything is working properly.
You can extend the growing season by planting in succession, where you plant a different crop to replace one with an earlier maturity date. For example, if you are going to plant a cool-weather crop such as spinach, kale, or broccoli to replace a crop that matures in the heat of the summer, you need to plan now what that crop is going to replace, where the initial crop and its replacement is going to be planted, and when you are going to make the switch. For example, I have planted radishes in cool spring weather, and then – when the radishes mature – replace them with cucumber that does better in the heat of the summer. When the cucumber is done, I replace it with more radishes that do better in cooler weather.
You do not have to plant in succession; whatever you decide to do will be fine. Regardless, write everything down. Having a written plan of what you are going to plant and when will help avoid an impulse buy of something that will not necessarily do well. Also, a sketch you make of your garden will help to guide your plant selection and serve as a guide for you as you prepare to plant.
Preparing for spring is a difficult task, but with dedication and perseverance – you can do it. The take away message is that you should have a written plan of the vegetables that you intend to plant and a sketch of your garden showing about where they are going to go. Taking the time now to do these things will save you time, hassle, and headache in the long run.
Anoka Master Gardeners welcome you to visit www.anokamastergardeners.org/ for information on many gardening topics, including: Home Landscape and Garden Fair, April 8; plant sale, May 16-17; diagnostic clinics, starting May 17; Landscape for Life classes, May 17-June 21; walks in the garden, starting June 14.
Tim Baland is an Extension Master Gardener in Anoka County.