It’s painfully obvious that none of us will be working in the garden this weekend! A week ago it seemed like Spring had sprung, but now reality has returned.
The good news is, that it’s almost March! The long range forecast is looking great for some spring planting next weekend. The first weekend of March is a great time to start peas, lettuce, spinach, radishes and other cool season vegetables. As long as your garden soil isn’t too wet (raised beds should be fine next week), get to planting!
The concept of “Succession Gardening” is fairly simple. Plant multiple crops in the same space by using varieties that have different needs and growing times. You can get 2 or 3 different crops out of one bed by planning ahead. Plant cool season crops now, then plant summer crops right on top of them later in the spring, followed by fall root crops at the end of summer. By the time those summer vegetables are big enough to shade out the cool season crops, those plats are done for the year due to the heat. The shade from the summer crops keeps those root vegetables cool at the end of summer and then you can pull those plants and give the bed sunshine for the root crops to grow all the way into late fall.
If you’ve never grown them, I highly recommend trying snow peas. They are easy to grow, but require a small trellis of bamboo sticks or light fencing. There are a lot of great varieties out there, but I really like Oregon Giant. These peas are delicious right off the vine and are even better sauteed in butter and garlic!
If you want some great salads all spring long, plant Buttercrunch and Black Seeded Simpson. These are leaf lettuces and the seeds are easy to find at most nurseries around town. If you like Caesar salads, try some Romaine lettuce in a corner of one of your beds. If you like a spicier lettuce, try the various “spring mix” seed packets.
Radishes are really easy to grow. French Breakfast is our favorite as it doesn’t get too hot and has a very pretty bi-colored root. Daikon is a large Asian radish that is good raw and even better in stir fries.
Spinach is a bit harder to grow than lettuce and requires a lot more plants to yield several meals of greens. Tyee and Bloomsdale Long Standing are my two favorites. If you’ve got some extra room in your garden, plant several rows of these seeds.
Onions are easiest to grow from “sets.” Buy these dried, small onion bulbs by the pound at any place that sells seeds. Don’t grow them expecting to get huge onions, grow them for green onions that you can harvest all spring and summer.
One note…if we do get more winter weather, your cool season crops will do fine with a “low tunnel” of plastic, or a covering of Reemay row cover. If you use plastic, make sure it doesn’t touch the leaves bu supporting it with wire or PVC hoops. You can also make a makeshift cold frame with some 2×4 lumber and plastic sheeting or re-purposed glass windows.
Maximize the potential of your urban garden this year! You’ve got a few weeks in March to get these crops planted…just wait for the snow to melt and the soil to dry and get to gardening!