Thursday, January 28, 2010

Planting cool-season vegetables

It's getting close to time to start think about planting a first round of peas (in the next few weeks). It's time at least for us anxious Southern US gardeners, who are ready to get out there, but have been delayed by cold and wet this winter.

It's always dicey planting in spring; the soil's cold, it's been exceptionally cold and wet, the seeds probably will just rot, etc. etc. But, hot weather comes on its own schedule, and you never know whether we'll have a long cool spring, or a brutal arrival of summer in late April or early May.

The bigger mistake is to wait too late and have pea vines shrivel in the heat. So, successive plantings from mid-February to mid-March spread the risk, and up the possibilities of harvesting some nice garden, snow, or snap peas, but even then, I'm delighted to have a decent harvest.

(Hmm, I just thought about the ROWS of snow peas I saw this winter in Dalat, in the Central Highlands of Vietnam, a perpetual spring-like climate. The rows of vines were LOADED with snow peas ready for harvest. Hmmph.)

Fortunately, most of my vegetable beds are largely ready for late winter and early spring sowings of peas, lettuce, spinach, and greens. The beds are covered by a nice layer of mulch and were amended following harvest last fall. Amazingly, the flats of collards and kale have hung on through hard freezes, so are ready to take off with a bit of warmer weather.

But, the weather isn't cooperating; it's going to be totally cold again this weekend, hardly winter-annual weeding weather. (Fortunately, they're not growing quickly in the beds with garlic and shallots).

Much of the main vegetable garden will be in root-knot nematode-quelling (I hope) cover crops this summer such as French marigolds. With a basically fallow year, I'm hoping that their numbers will be greatly reduced. The satellite garden has lots of garlic already planted and onion sets to come, ordered from Dixondale Farms. I'll tuck some tomatoes and peppers in those beds, too, but only hardy varieties that won't need much attention.

In their place, I'm planning to put in raised beds on the end of the driveway of our small house in the mountains (where the arrow points).

Filled with fresh (more or less sterile) soil, they should provide ideal conditions for growing beans, squash, chard, greens, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and cucumbers. We're planning a trellis with beans, cucumbers and tomatoes between our house and the adjacent building (marked to the right on the image).

That's my gardening companion and gardening assistant there, too.

1 comment:

  1. You're so lucky to even be able to think about planting this time of year. Good luck with those peas!


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