Posts Tagged ‘soil’

Getting the Garden In

Monday, May 25th, 2009

As we come into summer, it really is time to get most of your planting done.  Digging the soil thoroughly with a good garden fork and breaking up any clumps of soil goes a long way to ensuring better growing conditions.  It is also a good idea to add an inch or two of compost or composted manure to your beds and work this in before you plant.

In May I like to  direct seed a small section of salad greens (about 6 x 4 feet) as well as bush beans, dill, and coriander.  It is also the last time you can plant green garlic – cloves of garlic that have been pushed into the ground about 1″ and that are harvested like green onions.  Garlic senses the decreasing light levels after the summer solstice and starts putting its energy into the bulb.  Anything planted later in the summer will not grow to more than an inch or two.

I also plant transplants of lettuce (8), endive (6-8), green onions (80), swiss chard (2-3), and beets (24).  The green onion and beet transplants are in what I call multiplant transplants – that is there are ten green onions and four beets for each transplant cube, you plant this as one group and they grow apart from each other, reaching full size.  So in essence there are only 8 green onion transplants with 10 seedlings in each (total 80) and 6 beet transplants with four beets in each (total of 24).  When planting the transplants need enough room for the clump to grow so give the green onions 6-8 inches and the beets a foot between each multiplant transplant.

May is also time to plant carrots and parsnip.  Both of these vegetables take about 2-3 weeks to germinate so it is good to get them in the ground while there are still fairly consistent rainy spring days.  The best way to grow good carrots and parsnips is to double dig the bed that you are planting them in.  This ensures that the soil is dug deeply and is loose and free of clumps.  Garden forks are far more efficient for digging than shovels – look for a fork with long times – 10″ – rather than the shorter ones with 8″ tines.  Push the fork into the bed as deeply as you can go and turn over the soil.  Then use the fork to smash the clumps apart as best you can.  Pull any weeds, remove any rocks, and use your hands to crumble any remaining lumps.  Doing this a second time makes a huge difference, and your carrots can grow straight and deep without interruption.

I try to start a tray of seedlings every month, so that I have a continuous supply of some sort of salad vegetable.  Whatever seedlings you start in May will be ready to harvest in mid to late July – since this is a time when all sorts of other vegetables are ready – cucumbers, zucchini, beans, the first tomatoes – I do not do too many salad vegetables.  My tray is over half basil, with maybe 3-4 each of lettuce, green onions, fennel, and endive.

Happy gardening!