Spring Planting Tips
• Always read your seed packet for information concerning how to plant and grow the vegetables in question.
• Use organic seed from companies such as Johnny’s Select Seed, Botanical Interests, Baker Creek, High Mowing, Fedco, Territorial, Renee’s, Seeds of Change or Hudson Valley. Seeds2Plate offers organic seedlings that can be pre-ordered and picked up in Littleton. See this evaluation of the companies where you can buy organic seeds.
• Some examples of frost-tolerant spring vegetables that can be direct-seeded as early as the garden opens—peas, kale, arugula, spinach, carrots, beets, radishes, scallions, dill, cilantro, and lettuce. These types of plants will not do well in later summer heat and light unless protected. They don’t have problems dealing with a temperature drop in the evenings and can be harvested as you are planting your summer crops.
• Heat-loving crops like eggplant, tomatoes and peppers generally need to be started several weeks in advance inside under good lighting conditions (south or west facing window or grow lights.
• After the danger of frost is also the time to start squashes of all types, beans, corn and basil outside through direct-sowing.
• Create furrows into the soil surface where you want to sow your seed, then drop seeds into the furrow at the appropriate depth and spacing shown in your seed packet. Cover the seeds with soil and firm down by hand or with a tool.
• Place a labeled plant marker or run a string across to mark where the seeds are
• Keep your seed moist until the seedling is out of the ground and thriving, at which point, it doesn’t hurt to give it a little stress—perfection is not required.
• You can start seeds indoors following package instructions.
• Watch to see how they progress and replant into larger pots or trays before the roots begin to wrap around the container (root-bound).
• Transplant when the seedling is ‘hardened off’, that is it has survived at least a week of days and a few nights outdoors (you are trying to acclimate the seedling to the variable temperatures and conditions of the outdoors.
• Tap the plant out of the pot or tray carefully, keeping as much of the soil, and the roots, as you can with it. Tease out any rootbound roots with your fingers. If the seedling is really rootbound, you can break roots apart carefully.
• Alternatively, you can buy organic seedlings from Whole Foods, Weston Nurseries, or even some of the big-box retailers have them.
• Plant as soon as is appropriate for the plant in question—heat loving plants as described above need to go into the ground around Memorial Day. A ground thermometer helps to determine when the ground is warm enough.