March 7, 2012
As I write this column, the ground is covered in snow.By the time you read this column, the temperatures will be rising into the high 50’s or even into the 60’s. The snow doesn’t have a chance at surviving.
If the weather stays warm and the ground dries out in your vegetable garden, you should be able to plant an early crop of peas. Pea seed doesn’t mind cold soil. Peas will actually grow better in cooler soil temperatures. If you plant the tall growing varieties, you will eventually need to provide some type of trellis. There are many types of trellis netting that can be attached to poles that you place near the rows of peas. If you plant the bush varieties, no support is needed. However, once the peas start to form, the plants can get top heavy and they sometimes fall to the ground. When I plant bush peas, I always run garden twine down one side of the row and then run the twine down the other side of the row. Two-foot tall stakes hold up the twine that you put into the soil at either end of the row. Push the stakes into the soil about 6 inches. This gives you about 18 inches of stake above ground. The twine is attached about 14 inches above the soil. This gives the peas something to lean upon as they grow. This will provide just enough support to keep the plants from flopping onto the ground.
Radishes are another crop that you can plants as soon as the soil can be worked. Radishes only take about 30 days from seed in the ground to harvesting a crop. They are another crop that likes cool soil. If you plant now, you should be able to get 2 or 3 crops before the temperatures get warm.
If you can give them some protection from really cold nighttime temperatures, you should be able to plant lettuce now. The thrifty gardener will find some old storm windows and rig them up boards placed in the ground along side of the rows of lettuce. The windows are placed on top of the boards at night. This helps to hold in the heat. During the day, the windows are removed to allow the lettuce to grow in cool temperatures. You can also cover the rows of lettuce with a product known as a floating row cover. This lightweight material is suspended above the plants on stakes that you place adjacent to the rows of lettuce. The row cover can be left on during the day and gives the plants protection from cool nighttime temperatures and protection from adverse weather.
If the sunny weather holds out, we may be seeing pansy plants available in about two weeks. Now that would be a sign of spring!
Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.