|I'm in the back seat with my mom, waving, |
We're riding down the road in a
horse-drawn wagon, past all the farm fields
owned by my cousins in the wagon with us.
My grandma was the daughter of a tobacco farmer in Kentucky. She married a farmer, moved to Indiana, and had a little boy, who grew up to be my dad.
We moved around a lot when I was a kid, and I always thought my dad was looking for his past; that place he could cultivate and till and plant and harvest. That place that gave him pride.
Everywhere we lived, we had a garden. BIG gardens, too. Like an acre. Or maybe even two. As far back as I can remember, I knew how to plant and weed and fertilize and pick the harvest, and when I got older, I learned to can and
freeze it for the winter.
When I was in seventh grade, my dad started selling plants off our front porch, and within a year, had moved our family to a 5- acre plot of land, on which he opened a garden shop. We had the largest business in 3 counties, and on a busy Saturday in May, you were likely to see 20-30 cars in our lot from 8 a.m. until dark.
From these experiences, I bring you the following tips this week for a healthy, happy garden:
1. About the "frost date."
Most plants should not be planted until after the frost date in your area, including tomato plants, pepper plants, zucchini plants, cucumber plants, and perennial flowers (those that must be replanted each year). If you aren't sure of that date, check farmersalmanac.com. In my area, frost in unlikely after April 25, but guaranteed not to happen after May 10, so I try to plant around that date.
2. Exceptions to the frost date rule:
Every rule has an exception, so here's the exception to #1. Certain vegetables are "frost free," meaning they are not damaged by frost. Those vegetables include broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and cabbage. It is not too early to plant these items, but do it soon, if you're going to. They don't like hot weather.
3. Sidebar on planting peas:
Peas don't like hot weather either, but they are a little fussier. They are typically planted from seed, so you need to time it so that the first tender shoots don't pop through the soil until after the frost date, BUT, if you wait too long to plant, they will wilt and die in the hot summer sun. Look for varieties that have a shorter germination period, or advertise to withstand the heat, especially if you are the least bit late in planting.
4. The difference between a frost and a freeze:
Don't confuse a frost with a freeze. A frost will kill most vegetables, but not pansies, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and perennial flowers (those that come up every year by themselves without having to be replanted. A freeze means the temperature will drop below 32 degrees, which is likely to kill even the most hardy plants.
5. So what garden tasks should you doing right now?
There are a few things to be done right now:
- Till your soil. Be sure you till in fertilizer during this stage. If you don't till it in at the beginning,and just sprinkle the granular fertilizer in before planting, you run the risk of burning your tender new plants.
- Plant any frost-free plants you want to put in your garden.
- Consider sowing any seeds you may want to plant. If you sow them by the end of this month, you will have little shoots of plants coming through the soil just before the May 10 frost date for this area.
Thanks for joining me to discuss gardening. It's one of my favorite things to do!
Stay tuned -- we'll be talking about flower gardening in upcoming installments, and I'll be providing a resource page for you, soon , as well.
We'll see you next Wednesday for Installment #2.