Archive for May 27th, 2011

May 27, 2011

Planting time!

Memorial weekend, garden calendar, garden notebook.  What do all of these things have in common?  It’s time to plant!

By now we should be in the clear as far as frosty nights are concerned, but the other key factor to seed germination and plant growth is warm soil.  Each seed needs certain conditions to grow, warm season crops and tender crops typically need the soil temp to be 60 – 85 degrees in order to germinate whereas cool season crops only need it to be around 40 degrees.  Granted we’ve had a crazy spring, (although growing up in Minnesota, I’m not really sure what a “normal” spring would look like!) but the soil temperatures over the last week or so have been hovering in the low to mid 60s in Central Minnesota, so it’s basically a green light to plant.  As the soil continues to warm, the seeds will germinate and the plants will begin to grow.

One thing to keep in mind if you’re doing container gardening is that the soil in the containers warms and cools more drastically than the soil in the ground.  What this means is that they truly benefit from a warm, sunny day now because the soil will warm faster, likewise later in the summer they will continue to warm faster, which is why some plants tend to wilt in pots.  The soil in containers will  also cool significantly faster as well.  This is part of the reason why container gardens typically need more attention than plants in the ground, but that’s another subject all together.

So, now’s the time to pop those warm season crops, such as tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, etc. in the ground.    If you haven’t started your own seeds earlier in the season, buy seedlings or more mature plants from local plant sales or garden centers.  Warm season crops have a long growing period.  If you plant these from seed now, they won’t have enough time to grow and produce fruit before frost in the fall.

Now is also a good time to plant the tender crops like cucumbers, pumpkins, melons and squash.  These, unlike warm season crops can be planted by seed now.  To help them germinate more quickly, you can cover them with hot caps (a.k.a. Hot Kaps, Hotkaps) to help warm the soil and get them to germinate faster.  Remove the cap when they are  growing vigorously.

If you haven’t already done so, you can also plant: beans (bush, pole, dry, lima), beets, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, radishes, kohlrabi, lettuce (leaf and head), parsley, potatoes and sweet corn.

I wish you a happy holiday weekend and happy planting!