From the Desk of Ed Hume: Time to Seed Your Spring and Summer Greens

March 12, 2012 at 1:49 AM Leave a comment

Lettuce, spinach, chard, and cabbage are some of the most popular greens that can be seeded directly into the garden at this time of year. Easy to grow, most greens reach maturity in a relatively short period of time. There’s nothing like being able to pick and eat fresh greens from your garden.

SOIL PREPARATION

Most greens are fast growing and mature relatively quickly, so it is important to properly prepare the soil before seeding them. I recommend mixing about an inch of organic humus with your existing soil. This can be compost, well-rotted manure, or green manure. You can also add, according to label instructions, a vegetable garden fertilizer. After adding humus and fertilizer, rake the soil level. Now you’re ready to begin sowing.

SEEDING GREEN CROPS

When it comes to seeding leafy greens, the key is space. Try to space rows as specified on the back of the seed packets. Keep in mind most vegetable leaf crops can be seeded in a single row, or several rows together, without isles between rows. This is called intensified gardening, and it utilizes every inch of space available.

Mark your rows with a string or a stick, and sow the seeds at the depth recommended on the seed packet. This is critical as seeding depths vary greatly depending on the type of green being grown. Likewise, spacing is important. If the seeds are sown too close together there will be too much competition and this is apt to affect the flavor and texture of the greens.

THINNING SEEDLINGS

Once the young seedlings are up and have formed a set of true leaves, the plants should be thinned so they have ample room to develop. If you carefully remove the young seedlings, they can be eaten or transplanted to another garden bed. Thinning does not work for root crops, except onions, but leafy greens can almost always be transplanted.

HARVESTING

Most greens, especially lettuce and spinach, can be eaten at almost any stage of growth. However, most are allowed to mature before being eaten. Once the crop is harvested, the plants can be removed, the soil refurbished, and a new crop planted. You can also harvest the greens by leaving two inches of stem above ground, and allow the plants to grow new leaves.

FEEDING GREENS

Whether you start new plants or grow a second crop from the original plant, it is important to revitalize the soil by applying additional vegetable garden fertilizer. It is important to give the greens nitrogen to keep them growing fast. Nitrogen will also keep greens crisp, tender, and flavorful. Off-color and tough greens are almost always caused by lack of nutrients or bad weather conditions.

In hot, bright areas, greens are best planted only in early spring and late summer or early fall. Most greens are not hot weather plants, and will also become bitter if under-watered.

SLUGS

Slugs love tender young greens, especially lettuce. Be on the lookout for them, and be certain to take steps to control any before they ruin your crop.

For more information on greens and vegetable gardening, visit our website www.humeseeds.com or our Ed Hume Seeds Facebook page.

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Ed’s Podcasts: Raised Beds Ed’s Podcasts: Starting Seeds Indoors

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