Feels like 12 degrees. Thank you, weather.com, for the gut-punch this morning. After a few encouraging weeks of climbing mild temperatures and seeing spring slowly emerge through blossoming trees (and even weeds!), I feel like we’ve been face-slapped back into winter.
I’m in denial and refuse to wear my heavy winter coat again. The forecasts claim we only have a few more days of this before we finally settle into springlike temps. So, I’m keeping my head up (with a hat) and putting on extra layers to get out in my garden and prepare for the season ahead.
A lot of people raise their eyebrows at me when I tell them they can begin direct sowing* in March and April as many spring vegetables are cold-hardy such as spinach, peas, lettuce and radishes. They can handle a little late season frost or even snow (ahem, like this past weekend) which is why I normally start to direct sow right around now.
If you’re starting to consider planting summer vegetables, sit back and relax. You’ve got some time to kill (unless you start seedlings indoors like tomatoes and peppers in which case go for it!). What’s important to figure out is your area’s average last frost date. For me in the Hudson Valley, that’s about the end of April. Cornell has an excellent and handy planting calendar if you live in Westchester for what to plant and when. For many varieties they say you can plant them “as soon as the ground can be worked.” This year, that might have been February!
But for most of us who haven’t started planting, after we turn the corner this weekend and temperatures warm up, it should hopefully be smooth sailing ahead. What to do with the next few days (besides freeze)?
- Clean out your garden and/or set it up (build raised beds, assess what’s survived the winter, tear out dead plants, etc.).
- WEED! Yup, thanks to warmer temps in the past few weeks the weeds have already emerged. And so begins a season of sore quads and achy backs weeding away. (Tip: Wait until it warms up and rains before weeding. They’re much easier to pull when the ground is warm and wet.)
- Purchase any materials you’ll need for the start of the season (seeds, posts, deer fencing, garden gloves, etc.). You’ll wish you had as soon as we get that first beautiful day… Home Depot will become the seventh circle of hell.If you’re shopping for garden gloves, I HIGHLY recommend Foxgloves.
- Plot your planting schedule for spring/summer/fall to ensure crop rotation (don’t replant the same varieties in the same spots year after year). Planning ahead is pretty crucial with gardening.
- Buy compost – enough to give your garden a 50/50 ratio of compost/soil (that’s the real secret to a great garden)!
Coming up soon… my post on favorite veggie picks for the season ahead!
*Direct sowing = planting seeds directly into the ground vs. starting from seed indoors. I prefer direct sowing because it’s easier and I think the plants ultimately grow better.