Spring Vegetables




The first vegetables I planted for 2013 were two cool weather crops: cabbage (first picture) and broccoli (second picture). I planted transplants that I bought from a nursery in late February, rather than starting them by seed. Most seeds wouldn’t sprout in winter here, because it’s not warm enough. I would have had to start by seed indoors and then transplant the seedlings outdoors in late winter. Buying and planting nursery transplants is easier. No hardening off is required.

One year, I planted broccoli seeds in one of our backyard raised garden beds in July for a fall crop. However, the broccoli wasn’t mature enough by late fall, so it overwintered and matured in February. The broccoli crowns were very small, probably because the temperature was too cool that time of year for ideal growth. Next time, I would plant broccoli seeds outdoors in June for a fall harvest.

Our cabbage is nearly ready to harvest. This is my first time growing cabbage. From what I have read, it can be harvested as soon as a cabbage head forms. It was very easy to grow. I watered two to three times a week and fertilized weekly with water soluble fertilizer. I planted a dwarf variety that matures in about 60 days after setting out transplants. I also put bird netting over them, mainly to keep the snails away. I have found that bird netting is more effective than snail bait, which dissolves in about 2 weeks. I discovered that when I used bird netting to keep the birds away from my strawberries (which are growing around the beds as a border) that snails would get caught in it. They have a hard time crawling through the holes in the netting and usually get stuck in it, so they can’t make it into the beds.

I planted Waltham Broccoli. The Waltham broccoli produced very small crowns in early April, only about an inch or 2 wide (front plants in second picture). I’ve learned that in order to get large crowns, broccoli plants need to grow very large first. If the plants generate crowns when they are still medium size, the crowns will be too small.

I’ve planted broccoli several times before, and I’ve only had success in getting them to produce large crowns once. That time, I planted in mid-March and harvested crowns in early June. Apparently, proper timing of your broccoli plantings is key to success. They were growing in the same bed as the ones in the above photos.

I set out tomato transplants in mid-March. I also planted pole bean seeds and zucchini seeds in the same bed (third picture). All of these are growing well, as are our strawberries around the edges of the beds. I set out tomato transplants that I buy from a nursery rather than staring by seed outdoors to get a head start on the growing season. Each year for the past four years that I have planted tomato transplants in the garden in March, I have had our first ripe tomatoes in early July. I also have tomato seedlings growing in the same bed. They are growing where tomatoes fell off the vine and rotted last year. But these seedlings are tiny compared to the nursery transplants and are getting crowded out by them.

April 20 2013 10:33 pm | Broccoli and Cabbage