Spring is a frustration of waiting followed by a frenzy of planting. And in this exceptionally chilly spring we're all wondering what to plant when. ...I haven't read Cliff Mass's weather blog so compulsively since the December snowstorms... I'm looking for warmer weather on the way, and there's little reassurance to be found.
Still, we need to get our crops into the ground...timing depends on where you live, how much sun your garden gets, and what kind of soil you have. You have to wait longer to plant in heavy wet soil; raised beds that drain more freely, especially if they're in the sun, can be planted weeks earlier.
We're coming up on the last frost date, which is usually about April 1, but depends on elevation, proximity of water, amount of sunlight in your individual garden. Even though the forecast is for another week of rain and cool temperatures, now is the time to prepare beds for planting. As soon as you can pick up a handful of soil, squeeze it, and not have water pour out, you can begin planting. I've already put leaf lettuce and peas in my raised beds.....maybe a little too early, but I couldn't help myself...
Here are seven vegetables (and a few suggested varieties of each) most suited to early planting - go ahead and get them in the ground in the next few weeks and you'll be on your way to harvest '09:
Beets: Bull's Blood, Golden, Chioggia
Onions: White Bunching, Walla Walla Sweet, Red Globe
Peas: Sugar Snap, Sugar Sprint, Little Marvel
Radishes: Sparkler, Gourmet Blend, Champion
Carrots: Scarlet Nantes, Ingot, Little Finger
Lettuce: Red Sails, Gourmet Blend, Mesclun blends
Spinach: Tyee, Olympia
Chioggia Pink beets, photo courtesy of Thompson & Morgan