Planting in Early Spring

     If you want to reap a harvest, you have to sow.  Now is the time to start planting your garden if you want to make the most of the growing season.

      You can start your garden as soon as the soil is tillable.   In zone 5 where we live, the soil has just warmed enough to be planted.  At this time of the year, you can plant peas, spinach, onions, and potatoes.  Pea seeds once planted can withstand temperatures down to 10 degrees Fahrenheit, so plant them early and know that they will sprout as soon as they are able.  Peas need to be planted near a fence so they can climb the fence as they grow.  Plant pea seeds about 4 inches apart in a row about two inches deep.

      Most spinach seed packets say to sow the seeds in a row wait for them to come up and then thin them.  In other words you plant seeds too close together, wait for them to come up and then pull out most of the plants. 

    To me this practice seems like a waste.  In our garden we turn the soil with a digging fork until it is loose. We stand on boards that we have in the garden so that we are tilling the soil in which we are going to plant.  At this time we add compost to the soil if we have any and turn the soil again.  We rake the soil nice and flat.  Raking breaks up the big clods of earth as well.  All the time we are doing this process we pick out the rocks and put them in a bucket.  We cut paper grocery bags in half.  The paper bags are laid on top of the soil.  We put rocks on the edges of the paper to hold the paper down.  Now we are ready to plant.

     After that is finished, we take a sharp object like a metal pipe and poke throught the paper and into the ground.  We put a seed or two into the hole.  Cover the seed with dirt.  We make our holes in the paper about eight inches apart for the spinach seeds.

     Onions are planted as sets not seeds in the north especially.  Prepare the soil. Rake it flat.  Push the one onion set at a time into the soil about four inches apart.  So if your space is twelve inches wide, you can plant two rows of onions in that space.  If you stagger the onions, you can fit more onions in less space plus, there will be less room for weeds to grow.

     To plant potatoes, prepare the soil by turning it.  Potatoes require much nutrients in the soil so add a large amount of compost.  Turn the soil again.  Take a shovel and dig trenches on either side of the potato bed you are going to create.  Place the soil from the trench between the treches.  Rake the long pile of soil you created so the top is flat about ten inches or so wide.

     Dig a hole in which to place your seed potatoe, but do not cover it.  Builders paper works best for the next step.  Roll out the builder’s paper on the top of the bed.  Secure it with just two rocks at the end.  Now cut a hole in the paper over the hole in the soil where the seed potatoe is located.  Then cover the seed potato.  Again if you stagger the potaoes in a zig-zag pattern, you can fit more potaoes in the same area.  About fifteen inches across the bed diagonally dig another hole, put in a seed potato and repeat the process until you have filled the bed.  Place more rocks on the edges and even in the middle to secure the paper.  Cover the entire paper with slightly composted wood chips.   This process may seem time consuming at first, but it greatly reduces the time required for weeding!  Include the whole family and the time spent becomes valuable as family together time and an investment in the garden that will pay off in the fall.