Dig In for Cool Spring Gardens

BlogHer Original Post

We just celebrated the spring equinox -- an astronomic if not an actual sign that the season has arrived. While snow still holds on many northern locations, it truly isn't too early to begin to plant your early spring gardens. Many plants do well in the wet and cold of spring, yet wither away completely in the warmth and bright sun of summer.

Chicago Flower & Garden Show

Spring flower gardens are normally dominated by bulbs -- daffodils, hyacinths, crocus -- and spring flower shrubs such as the forsythia. Bare-root roses should be planted soon, too. But don't miss the chance to enjoy these spring flowering plants:

  • Primrose
  • Sweet Pea
  • Bachelor's Buttons
  • Calendula
  • Larkspur
  • Lobelia
  • Petunia
  • Viola and Pansy

In your vegetable garden, now is the time to get most of your cold-weather crops.

  • Broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower: These brassicas will bolt at the first sign of heat -- but plant them now and you will be harvesting heads in 60-75 days, just before the summer heat strikes. The only member of this family that shouldn't be planted now are the Brussels sprouts. Plant those late in the summer, so that they mature and sweeten when the first frosts strike next fall.
  • Peas: While you begin your yard cleanup, stick any small branches and twigs into the ground to form a fence that the peas will happily grow up and over. In 45-60 days, tender pods will be ready to pick; if you resist them at this stage, the full pods will develop in about 14 additional days.
  • Hardy greens: Collards, mustard, chard and kale produce happily in spring weather. Most of these plants can be picked and left to grow additional leaves. They may look shabby during the heat of summer, but will perk up when the fall's cooler weather return. Your call whether you can afford the garden space to leave them in. I space them between my planned tomato plants -- and keep that bed growing 9-10 months of the year.

If you're planning on planting some cane fruit (raspberries or blackberries), fruit trees or bushes, spring is the perfect time to get them into the ground. They take to their new surroundings much better if planted when dormant and allowed to wake up in a new home.

Even if snow is still on the ground, you can at least begin planning where they plants will live for the next few years, and start choosing your varieties. This is also the time to begin planting summer plants that you plan to move outdoors after the last frost date of the spring. Whether you use plastic trays, peat pellets, recycled paper cups or other starter items, use fresh sterile starting soil carefully moistened. Check your light setup for safety and effectiveness before your seedlings need to rely upon them for both light and warmth.

In the Garden Blogs:

Margaret Roach shares the surprise first blooms she just found in her garden.

Molly Day blogged the opposite occurrence in her Oklahoma Garden -- full of blooms two days ago, now buried under a layer of snow.

Claire Splan returned from the Pacific Orchid Expo empty-handed but confident that she is not an orchid killer. An inexpensive mystery orchid has finally sent up a flower stalk.

I can't wait to see what they look like! But even more exciting than seeing what the flower will look like, is knowing that I am redeemed (at least a little bit) as an orchid grower. I'm no longer an orchid killer, which means there can now be more orchids in my future!

Growing Southern's Jessica declared that it felt like spring a few days ago.

Debra A Stitch In Time Weight for Deb

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