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Spring fever

Wow has it been warm, makes it feel like it is time to go full speed in the garden. And it is!   There is so much you can be planting now: peas, potatoes, onions, lettuce, chard, kale, arugula, bok choy, broccoli, cabbage, spinach, beets, carrots, radishes, turnips cilantro and parsley.

Don’t forget our great calendar resource that tells you when to plant what – the iGROW Year-Round Planting Guide.   Even though I have seen tomatoes in the stores it is too early for summer crops, the chance of a frost is still pretty high and soil temperatures are still cool.

It is also very dry (though rain may be coming) so check your soil moisture and give everything some water.  Raised beds have been really dry and surprisingly most soils I have been working in have also been dry so I have put irrigation systems on in some places or at least given everything some water.   (Don’t forget Wendy’s suggestion last month- with this dry of a winter it is a good year to put in a drip system.)

If you are feeling like you want some quick spring crops so you can start harvesting soon.  Try some baby lettuce or baby braising greens (a mix of kale, mustard greens and chard).  Plant them close together- drop seed a half inch apart in a row, harvest them when the leaves get two or three inches long by cutting them above the root.  They often will grow a new set of leaves- they call it cut and come again.

Remember fava beans are edible in many forms- the leaves are a great salad addition and the flowers are also edible.  I have heard of people sautéing fava bean leaves also.  Also as your kale plants start to go into flower eat the flower buds, they are tasty like a broccoli.

If you have cover crop – either a green manure mix or fava beans, keep an eye on them the next month.  The best time to turn them into the soil is when the plant is two thirds in flower.   I chop them down with a machete and then fork them into the earth.  It is good to wait at least 3-4 weeks before planting something new so that the plant matter has begun to break down.    If you want to plant immediately, I would take the top plant part and put it in the compost pile and them let the roots break down.

One of the things I have been excited about using in my garden the last few years is compost tea.  It is a aerobically brewed tea made with high quality compost that you want to use immediately so all the beneficial micro organisms are alive and well.   The main benefit is not nutrients but inoculating the soil with beneficial microbes.  This time of year is a good time to give your soil and new plantings a drench of compost tea to wake it up and get it going.  There are several people who sell brewed tea in the area or you can get a system to make your own.

Happy Spring, enjoy all the blossoms!