Planting The Outdoor Kitchen Garden in Early Spring

Put to sprout

If it has not already been done, maincrop potatoes should be put to sprout as soon as possible.

Planting outdoors

Besides sowing seed, you can now begin to plant as well. Crops include garlic, onion sets, potatoes, shallots and rhubarb. The soil for these will already have been thoroughly dug in autumn or winter, and limed if necessary. All that you need do to it before actually planting is to fork off any weeds, and break down large lumps. Mark the rows for the garlic, onion sets and shallots, and then work from a planting board alongside the row you are working on, so that the soil is not consolidated by your feet. The board will distribute the pressure of your weight – you will need two boards, by the way.

If the soil and weather are still cold, do not plant the onion sets yet; they will not do well, and it is much better to wait until a suitable time in mid-spring.

Early and second early potatoes can be planted now, at the beginning of the season in sheltered gardens and towards the end of early spring in the remainder. Sprouts at planting time should be about 3cm (1-1/2 in) long. Rub off all but two or three of the shoots from each set, ensuring that the shoots remaining are at the ‘rose’ end, that is, the opposite end of the set from where it joined the root of the parent plant, and put them in with the sprouted end uppermost, 30cm (12in) apart.

A tip for a better yield still is to make the trenches slightly deeper than advised, put a forkful of really humusy, rotted manure or garden compost where each set is to be planted, and then put soil on top to ensure that planting will beat the right depth.

Melons like these – the cantaloupe Dutch Net and Ogen types and the sweet or musk varieties – can he grown by the gardener, with the help of cloches or frames for the hardier kinds, and a greenhouse for the tender varieties.

After planting, till in the trenches carefully so as not to damage the shoots, firm down and rake level. You can, at this stage, ridge the sets up so as to protect the growing shoots for as long as possible against frost. The chances are that by the time they emerge, frost will no longer be a possible source of damage.

Shallots should have been planted in late winter, but they will still crop, though a little late, if planted now; watch for bolting during the summer.

When you plant rhubarb, space each crown 75-150cm (30-60in) apart in each direction, depending on variety; six crowns should be enough for a family of four. You can divide already-established rhubarb by lifting it, and chopping it into several sections, each with one or two buds already showing. The sections which will do best will be those taken from the outer, not the central, part of the parent crown.

Be sure to make the planting hole large enough, spread the roots out comfortably, and return the soil so that the buds are showing above it. Firm down with the feet, and spread a layer of rotted organic matter on the soil that surrounds each of the rhubarb plants.

Transplanting and pricking out indoors you should also plant the seedlings which germinated in late winter and which were sown in containers in a gently heated propagator. The process of moving and putting seedlings into a new position is sometimes called ‘pricking out’, and is a form of transplanting in fact. The seedlings can be of any of the following: aubergine, cucumber, melon, pepper and tomato.

However, if you sowed them in individual small 5cm (2m) peat, plastic or clay pots, rather than seed-trays, they will not need this treatment, though if more than one seed was sown in each pot, they will need reducing to the strongest in each pot. Peppers are very slow to grow when young – do not expect them to develop as quickly as the other crops.

When you are pricking out the tomatoes, which should be when the second true leaf is barely showing, watch for the ‘rogues’, and do not use them: they will not crop. You can spot them by the unevenly-sized seed leaves.

If the melons were sown towards the end of late winter, they should be ready at some time in early spring for planting into larger pots. All the plants in the marrow family grow very fast when young, and it is not unknown for a seedling sow in a 7.5cm (3in) pot to need more root space four or five days after it has germinated. A 10cm (4in) size, containing John Innes potting compost No. 1, will be needed, and as soon as the young plant has started to grow again in its new pot the temperature can be gradually reduced to below 55°F during the day and, 55-59°F at night, so as to slow down its growth. Otherwise it will come on too fast, and be very expensive in terms of supplied heat.

26. August 2011 by admin
Categories: Kitchen Garden, Organics | Tags: | Comments Off on Planting The Outdoor Kitchen Garden in Early Spring

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