Wednesday, March 2, 2011
It's time to plant your cole crops!
Did you know Cole crops can be planted as early as this weekend in zone 5? In other zones you can plant cole crops about 6 weeks before the last frost date in your area. If you are like me and love gardening you are anxious to get out in the garden with a shovel and get the ground ready to plant your peas, broccoli, lettuce, carrots, radishes, spinach, and onions. I also might try Rhubarb, and Asparagus this year to add some perennial vegetables. In a few months I hope to have a pretty good salad growing! I have had my garden plowed and tilled last fall right before the first snow so it would be ready early in the spring. (If you haven't tilled yet, get out tilling- I also add quite a bit of organic matter to the soil each year- i.e. manure, or leaves, kitchen scraps etc. It is not to late to incorporate some of that in when you till. It also helps to add a complete fertilizer (one with all three numbers N-P-K) to the soil before planting.
The first thing I do is go out with a shovel and make rows of raised beds for each vegetable I want to plant. I try to raise the ground level at least 6 inches for best results. Raised beds allows for better drainage, less compaction of the soil and overall a happier plants.
Out of all the Cole crops peas are my favorite so I will focus on them the most! I found last year that sugar snap, are my personal favorite. Varieties like Super Sugar Snap, Snowflake, and Sugar Daddy have been tested and do well in zone 5. They grow quickly, and have an edible pod- easy to eat while you are weeding. They like the soil temperature to be 40 degrees F. before planting. If you are like me and still have snow on your garden you may have to wait one more week before planting. :(
Plant seeds 1" deep 1-2 inches apart in rows 12-24 inches apart. In Utah the weather will pretty much take care of them and you won't have to water them till about April-May. Germination takes place in 7-10 days if the soil is warm enough. We got quite a few peas last year and the kids loved eating them raw straight from the garden. Nothing is sweeter and more nutritious! When the weather gets above 80 degrees you will see your plants start to decline. This is normal. They are a cool season crop and I usually till them back into the soil in about June. (They are an excellent source of Nitrogen if tilled back into the soil.)
Do you have questions about another Cole crop? Let me know in a comment!
I hope you enjoy your Cole crops as much as I do....