At last, spring really is just around the corner and it’s about time to plant the first seeds of this year’s garden.
Depending on the altitude and whether you have a warm southern exposure, you could get outside and plant this weekend. Here’s what you need:
Soil that’s warm enough to till – such as a southern exposure. The south side of a building that provides reflected heat will warm up for planting sooner than other areas of a yard.
A cultivating tool to even out the soil.
Soil that was composted and tilled last fall – or compost to till in now to prep the soil
Seed packets or seed tape which is a strip of paper with seeds placed along along it. Using the tape guarantees a straight row of plants.
What can you plant early?
Green Onions, Peas
Once planted, all of these seeds will stay in the soil quietly waiting to germinate. Some will germinate at a soil temp of about 40-45 degrees and others may need a bit warmer temperature. The good news is that the seeds can sit still in the soil until conditions are right.
Snow and frost shouldn’t bother them and snow will give the soil needed moisture. If there’s no precipitation after planting, watch the soil and if it dries out, be ready to water.
Depending on the weather, your veggies should be ready to harvest sometime between the end of April and early May. Then it will almost be time to plant the warmer season crops.
If you want to extend the growing season, you can do what commercial growers do and place strips of black plastic about 18 inches wide on top of the soil. On sunny days, the plastic will absorb heat and bring up the soil temperature faster than if left alone. At higher altitudes where the growing season is even shorter than along the Front Range, this procedure can give an earlier start to the growing season.
When it’s time to plant, simply poke holes in the plastic and install the plants. This procedure is especially good for warm season crops like tomatoes, egg plant and peppers. Using walls of water – the plastic towers filled with water – around plants will also add to the warmth and help protect tender plants against frost damage.