Get ready, get set, SOW! As soon as the ground starts to warm up, it is time to start planting some of those cold tolerant crops. First up is radish, peas, arugula, spinach, Swiss chard, carrots, beets, orach, lettuce, Dakota Winter and Dakota Tears onions. These cool weather crops benefit from being sown as early as possible. We just planted the first of the radish and peas here! Germination may take longer than under warmer conditions but an early start gives them the maximum amount of time to grow before the heat of the summer.
Don’t forget about the flowers and herbs! Dill and cilantro, borage, bachelor’s buttons, calendula, cleome and marigold also benefit from early sowing.
Next up, in mid-May when the soil is warmer, will be beans and corn. The soil temperature needs to be above 50 degrees.
Map out your planting calendar for May! This is such a busy planting month and a little planning will help ensure you don’t miss anything. Download page two of garden planner here-- page one was for starting seedlings; page two is the direct seeding phase. Get out your seed packets and consult the growing instructions. Organize the packets from first to plant to the last, and enter them into your calendar. Add in any succession planting needed so you have a continuous harvest. When you’re done entering planting dates, print off your planner and grab a clipboard to take your plan with you to the garden.
Speaking of those seedlings you started-- don’t forget to start hardening off your plant starts! Here is picture of our temporary ‘cold frame’ and ‘hardening off’ facility!
We transfer the starts out of the greenhouse into this temporary bale enclosure. They are out experiencing the outdoor conditions, sun and wind, but are partially protected. As soon as the sun goes down, they are covered with plywood to protect from overnight temperatures. The plywood comes off again as early in the morning as temperatures allow. We try to keep the timing each day as close to the same as possible-- mimicking the natural day length of the season.
The metal bars are placed across the bales to provide support for the plywood. We slide the sheets of plywood across and place two bales on top just over the bars to protect against the wind taking them. This works well for us!
Have a successful gardening season!
Our best to you,
Theresa & Dan