Here in FresYes (zone 9), Spring is the best time of year to grow vegetable crops. The gelid ice on teak patio sets would just be beginning to thaw while birds would chirp on ice-laden conifers. The days are long enough to encourage growth and production, but short enough that temperatures don’t reach what they will in the summer. Don’t be too ambitious if you are growing veggies for the first time. Pick a few different ones that you and your family will eat and stick to that. As an ambitious gardener who spent years creating estimates for a landscaping job after job for my dad’s small business – I’ve learned quite a bit on both, gardening and accounting sides of lawncare. Here are your Top 5 Spring gardening tips for the Central Valley.
- Prep the beds for planting before adding in new vegetables
Start by making sure the bed is completely free of weeds (make sure to pull out all the roots as well to help prevent return). Once all weeds have been removed add a thick layer of high quality compost and work that into the soil. Then put a few layers of mulch (shredded or small leaves work well for this) over the bed until it is time to sow seeds or transplant seedlings into the bed. Keeping the mulch on the bed will help retain moisture and nutrients in the soil as well as help prevent weeds from taking hold.
- Do your research!
Plan your beds based on the amount of space you have allotted to growing your veggies. It is important that you contact an expert from pest control knoxville tn to ensure that your veggies are safe for your to consume while ensuring no pest infestation. Vertical crops such as tomatoes, lima beans, and even squash are great for smaller gardens. If you are planning on growing watermelons, cantaloupe, or pumpkin, then you need ample room for them to grow.
Here is a starter list for planting this month:
- Green Beans (bush and pole varieties)
- Lima Beans (must stake)
- Cantaloupe (keep fruit off of soil to prevent rotting)
- Carrots (raised beds work best)
- Celery (keep soil moist)
- Collard Greens (will last through the warm months)
- Corn (plant different varieties, but plant same with same)
- Cucumber (slicing and pickling)
- Eggplant (must stake, likes warm weather)
- Okra (hot weather lover)
- Peppers (mulch to keep happy)
- Potatoes (do not use store bought when starting)
- Pumpkin (requires plenty of space)
- Radish (very fast producers)
- Summer Squash (beware of summer pests)
- Tomatoes (must stake) check out Texas tomato cages!
- Watermelon (requires plenty of space)
- Transplant seedlings early in the season for best results
The sooner seedlings are transplanted outdoors the sooner they will start to produce. Keep a close eye on the weather and as soon as all threats of nights below 45 are gone, transplant your seedlings outdoors. If there is a chance that the weather is going to drop below 50 at night after the plants have been moved, make sure to cover all the fresh the plants with a clean blanket and a 12 hour hand warmer could even be laid on the soil under the blanket to help.
- Start summer crops mid spring
There are a few crops that thrive in the heat of summer in zone 9. Okra, black eyed peas, eggplant and most peppers are examples. Getting them started mid spring will have them ready to produce as soon as the spring crops are slowing down because of the summers heat. Many summer crops can be started in containers and transplanted into the beds that spring crops once occupied.
- Start a compost pile
During the spring everything around will be growing fast, including grass and weeds. Spring is the best time to start a compost pile, if you don’t already have one! Start with a pile of fresh cut grass and pulled weeds. Add any fallen leaves that are still around from fall/winter and any scrap vegetables from dinner. Continue to grow the pile, keeping it moist and turning it every week. By the end of summer this pile will be ready for use in the fall garden or to save for next years spring crops. I have yet to be successful at composting because it does take time and a good memory to remember to turn it!
Fertilization and care during the summer months will be another blog post as we heat up. For now, get those beds ready and make sure your soil is in good shape to get your veggies off to a great start. One fertilizer I ALWAYS recommend for bedding, trees and vegetables is Osmocote. Sprinkle in your soil before seeding or adding plants and it will feed for up to 4 months. Happy Gardening!