When is the best time to begin Spring planting? As the ground starts to thaw in late winter or early spring, and the birds start to sing their mating songs, most gardeners find it impossible to stay inside. This desire to start digging and planting in the garden is not only natural, it is probably the most practical course of action a gardener can take.
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Best time to begin Spring Planting
Gardens that have been planned with early spring plantings in mind will have beds surrounded by walkways to keep soggy soil from being compacted. But even if the garden is one big rectangle the first planting can be done around the perimeter while the rest of the ground is drying out enough to handle footprints.
The secret to early spring planting is knowing what likes cool weather and what doesn’t. Cucumbers can be put back on the shelf for at least two more months, but homesteader peas will reward the gardener who knows enough to plant them when the maple sap is running, long before the forsythia starts to bloom.
They rather enjoy a row cover for a while, but it is not totally necessary. The young plants will handle a late snowfall or several frosty nights with patience and will fill out the bed luxuriously, providing an abundance of peas by the time the tomatoes and peppers and sweet potatoes are ready to transplant into the garden.
Fava beans, spinach and onion sets enjoy a very early planting, along with parsley and cabbage. And then about a month before the first frost free date the lettuce, beets, broccoli, parsnips and turnip can go in. You can find frost dates on the Farmer’s Almanac website.
Snap beans need to wait for the first frost free date, but for the risk taker who likes to have the earliest beans, royal burgundy beans could be planted a week earlier. Another trick with beans is to use only black or brown seeds for the first planting. White seeds need a warmer soil to keep them from rotting.
Potatoes could be started before the last frost free date, but they are just as happy developing long eyes in a basement and then being planted after the ground has warmed. They can even go in after the peas are done and will still give a good harvest.
Cucumbers, melons, squash, corn, and sweet potatoes need to wait until at least a couple of weeks after the first frost free date.
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These are the recommended planting times for the first spring plantings, but every gardener has tried pushing the seasons, often with mouthwatering success. Using various cloches, and cold frames, the first planting times can be played with, because experimentation is, and has always been, an important part of gardening, and no one knows for sure what exciting changes may happen with the weather from one year to the next.