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Spring Planting

May Garden Update:

The weather has been variable, temperatures have fluctuated in recent weeks from frost to heat and now more than ever, in this time of climate change, gardeners must be flexible. Although the weather sometimes alters our initial plans, spring planting is here.

In mid-April we planted our crop of Newburg onions (Allium cepa ‘Newburg’). These onions are a yellow onion that keep well. We used our own seed and the onions were started in a greenhouse off-site in early February. The small slender darlings were carefully separated and planted 6 inches apart. These will grow into large bulbs that we will harvest in the fall to store over the winter before replanting them next spring and allowing them to make seed in the summer of 2023. For more information about saving seeds from biennials, check out our article here

To help address the many fluctuations in the weather, we covered the onions with white row cover to protect the transplants from too much wind and cold while still allowing the sunlight and April showers to penetrate. Last week we switched the row cover to shade cloth so that the onions don’t get too hot while they are still getting established.

Baby Newburg Onions (sign spelling is incorrect) just after planting in April.

Through years of experience at the seed garden, certain varieties have been found to grow well in our local environment. We then rotate through these successful varieties of corn, beans, squash, peppers and tomatoes. This year’s tomato is the heirloom variety Ruby Gold, also known as Gold Medal (Lycopersicon esculentum). They are an orange-yellow tomato with streaks of red and are more sweet and less acidic than some other tomato varieties. They were started in a greenhouse off-site in early March and were planted two feet apart in the cover crop enriched soil in our row crop area. Tomatoes can be planted very deeply, and in fact, some of the bottom leaves can be pinched off to allow for more of the stem to go into the ground. The buried stem will then create lateral roots to help with the uptake capacity of the plant. Tomato roots can go very deep into the ground (up to six feet) depending upon your soil. It is important for there to be good air flow around the plants and to not have the bottom leaves touch the soil in order to prevent disease.

Gold Medal tomatoes with their color variations.

May is bean planting month, so be sure to get your favorite bean seeds in the ground soon. At the seed garden we grow a variety of beans—bush and pole; we grow beans that can be eaten fresh and beans that can be dried. This year our bean selection includes the dry bush beans Tiger’s Eye and Zuni Gold. The plants grow to about 3 feet and produce creamy beans that are delicious for refried beans. Zuni Gold beans are noted for their drought tolerance as they have their heritage in the Southwest. For more information about growing beans, please check out this article here.

Tiger’s Eye beans with their color variations.

Enjoy this beautiful season as gardens pop into life and growth. What we sow now, we will be reaping in a few short months.


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