The veggie garden appears to be off to a great start and we’ve been enjoying perfect weather for growing; cool nights, mild days and now the fortune of a slow soaking rainfall to provide needed moisture to the garden.
It has turned sharply colder and today I heard rumors of frost warnings going out for the Central Pennsylvania area tonight. That’s not surprising, but what is, is that I’ve heard more than one local gardener talk about plans for setting out their tomatoes and other frost tender seedlings… well I sure hope they’re well covered!
No Need to Rush the Tomatoes, Instead Enjoy the Greenery
We have a pretty long growing season so I never rush and usually don’t plant warm weather crops out into the garden until after mid-May. That doesn’t mean a delay in harvesting fresh produce from the vegetable patch. Here’s a short list of the vegetables that I’ve been harvesting and enjoying already this spring:
- Leafy Greens – Including kale, collards, mustard, arugula, cress, and spinach. All of these were over wintered from fall plantings and have been ready for harvesting since the beginning of April!
- Baby Garlic – Mmmm, a special treat from the early spring garden. The baby garlic is being pulled from a bed that was planted with closer than normal spacing, as well as from those bulbs that were missed at harvest time last summer and have sprouted into tight clumps of garlic plants.
- Edible Weeds – This is a great time to go out and harvest young dandelion leaves, colorful red bud blossoms, huge bunches of succulent chickweed, or the wild garlic mustard that is all over the place.
- Asparagus – Their growth has slowed a little because of the cold snap but the delicious asparagus spears have been springing up for past week or two and are always a welcome sight in my garden.
- Perennial Herbs – Chives, horseradish, lemon balm, tarragon, and thymes have all made their appearances but the lovage is by far the largest and fastest growing plant in the garden so far. The bay laurel plant also survived the winter indoors and has been happily enjoying life back outdoors.
Other Veggies that are Finally Getting Off the Ground
Vegetables recently seeded directly into the garden include; beets, carrots, turnips, salsify, rutabagas, and parsnips. All of them, except for the carrots, have sprouted and began growing within less than a week after sowing.
I’m also growing broccoli, kale, mustard, raab, Oriental greens, lettuce, cabbage, kohlrabi, and collards that were started indoors and transplanted out a few weeks ago. Finally, there are the leeks, onions and globe artichoke plants that I purchased from a local nursery and set out into the raised beds.
Tomato, pepper, and eggplant seedlings are growing comfortably indoors under a bank of grow lights and I have no intention of moving them for at least another two or three weeks. I’d rather put the effort into gradually hardening them off than to have to worry over protecting them form unexpected spring frosts.
And Much, Much More to Look Forward to in the Garden
This weekend I’ll start more heat loving veggies indoors to transplant out once it really warms up. That list includes; cucumbers, squash, and the melons. Other seeds that will be planted directly into the garden include; green beans, cowpeas, okra, and lima beans, but those will wait until after the soil has thoroughly warmed up.
Every day brings us closer to that first vine ripened tomato, sweet fruit picked right from the tree, juicy berries and melons, and loads of other produce from our own backyard gardens. Not to mention all those favorite recipes made from fresh and locally grown ingredients.
I’m happy and thankful to see yet another growing season roll around and ready to uncover as many new discoveries and experiences as I can. Here’s hoping and praying for the blessings of great weather, plenty of rain, relief from destructive insects and four legged pests, and a fruitful growing season for all!
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