Planting an Early Spring Garden.
I had been wondering about the right time to plant for early spring at the Boys and Girls club’s vegetable garden. That was when I ran across my friend Farrell the painter. Farrell is one of those careful craftsmen who can do things like paint trim without masking tape or a drop cloth and end up with a perfect job. I have always respected true craftsmen.
I guess I’m a craftsman of sorts, also. I spend a lot of time keeping up a few gardens for people who ask for attention to detail and for an overall distinctive look in their landscapes. At any rate, I have been fortunate to meet a number of people up here in north Georgia who take pride in their work and who do outstanding work. Farrell is one of them.
A lot of these people (especially those around my age of 64) seem to have a common background that I don’t share—they grew up in the country and on farms during the 1950’s and the early 60’s. They moved to town when making a living in the country became rather difficult if not impossible. Now, they make a living with trades that have been passed down for generations—painting, carpentry, electrical, earth moving, and the like. Their common bonds are that they are caring and meticulous, patient, proud of their work, and that they grew up in the country.
Farrell was painting the garage at the estate where I was pruning the English boxwood. He took a break, got his sandwich and a cup of coffee and walked down to where I was working.
Farrell said, “hey, John. You were telling me about the importance of lime on my garden and I’ve been watching it and now I have moss just like you said I would. How about telling me what to use and how much? Is it too late to lime the garden?
I explained that it was not too late to lime the garden if he used pelleted lime instead of the white powdered lime (which is better but slower) and we talked about how lime is important. Then I asked him what his early spring plans were for his garden.
Farrell thought about it for a moment and then started out, “well”, he said, “There comes a week around the end of February when it gets nice and dry and you kin work the garden. That’s when I get ready and plant”.
I pushed him for details. Farrell started talking about his gardening and I said, “Hold it right there, Farrell, while I go get my notebook”
When I got back, Farrell started up again.
“The best early crop is English peas The English peas come in two kinds, bush and climbing. The bush peas are a kinda new development and I think you get better results from the climbing kind. It’s easy if you drive up two fence posts and run a piece of dogwire in between. You can plant the seeds and they will come up as soon as the weather is right. They won’t freeze, neither.
“And then there’s carrots. If you got some loose ground, and plant them early, you’ll get a bunch of carrots.
“And you can plant seeds for radishes and lettuce and beets. Man, there ain’t nothing like fresh beets from the garden and I love a radish sandwich—you slice the radishes and put them on toasted light bread with a little mayonnaise.
“And then the first of March you can plant potato slips. You can get these at the feed store most of the time. Then you wait about a week and you can plant cabbage plants. These will grow quick.
“One of my favorites is spinach. Spinach don’t like heat too much but you can plant the seeds and have a nice stand for early spring. Mmmmm. I cain’t wait to get me a spinach and radish salad.
I asked Farrell where he got his seeds and he told me that he had always gotten good service from Park Seeds but that there were a few other catalogues. He said that he remembered both his father and his grandfather sitting up on cold January nights going through the ‘seed books’.
So, now I have the list for the Boys and Girls club garden and you know what? I think I’ll try it myself.
You must remember that Farrell lives in north Georgia and that you will want to modify your planting dates to fit your own location.
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4 thoughts on “What to use for an early spring garden”
I got a it of nostalgia reading this blog. My grandmother (my mother’s mother) was a wonderful gardener and had all sorts of timetables. I remember she planted beets on Valentine day and I thought that was sweet. She planted according to the almanac and always had something fresh and good to eat. I miss that!
What about collards? I think of it as a fall crop but don’t see why it wouldn’t do well in the spring.
What a good, well-written, interesting blog! Man I’m hungry!
What a wonderful comment. Thanks.
I think I’ll try it myself this year–we will definitely use the plantings at the Boys and Girls club.
I live in north west montana where we see snow 6 months of the year. I just learned that carrots will survive the winters here! Your list, though balanced is not complete! The peas are wonderful and they do well even in snow, same as many of the root crops like parsnip and beets, but some of these things really aren’t for germinating in snow. This year I’ve tried glass jars over the cabbages and lettuce, chard and peas. The potatos are rumbling like Argentina under a foot of hot manuer. Then, there are the perannials like asparagus, strawberries and jerusalem artichoke! I was out there in January tipping up great slabs of 9 inch thick frozen quackgrass with my tractor and feeding them to the pigs. Now that the garden is weeded, I’m ready for something exotic, like pork chard fry! Nice blog dude! very inspiring!
Wow, thanks, Steph. My blog made it all the way to Montana!
I never thought about planting stuff under snow, but I guess you have to. Thanks for the info and the concept.