Are these warm sunny days making you itchy to plant things? Sprouts has plenty of frost tolerant plants that could go in the ground this weekend, so plan your weekend to satisfy that spring fever itch!
Vegetable gardeners, now is the time to plant brassica family (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts). Sure, they can go in the ground later, but planting them now means you’ll be feasting on garden treats sooner rather than later! The same goes for celery, leeks, and either onion plants or sets. Be aware that plants will need a few days to harden off, while sets (bulbs) can go straight into the ground. The beauty of sets is they have their own water reserve, so if moisture is not on the horizon, they can might be your best bet.
Perennial crops can be planted now. Our asparagus and rhubarb are hardened off for light frosts, but cover them if temps dip down to low 20s. The artichokes haven’t been hardened off yet, but don’t let that stop you. Artichokes, and other plants that are still used to the greenhouse, need to be hardened off before being planted. Hardening is an easy process, and this article explains it well.
If you’re not on a low-carb diet and want more potatoes in your life, this is perfect planting time for spuds. Start direct seeding your leafy greens- lettuce, spinach, arugula, kale, sorrel, bok choy, and chard. They’ll be up and growing soon! Plant some every two weeks so you’ll always have a new crop to replace to old, bolted and bitter. If you want a head start on your home-grown salads, we have kale, bok choy, chard, beets and lettuce mixes that are leafed out and ready to be transplanted.
Peas – sugar, snap or shelling- are very cold hardy, so drop a row of peas in the ground while you’re at it. Turnips, kohlrabi, parsnips, radishes, beets, and carrots are root vegetables, so they should be direct seeded, and that can happen now. They’ll appreciate the chance to get their growing and production done before summer’s hot days come along. If you missed the chance to plant garlic in the fall, consider planting a spring variety in the coming couple of weeks.
Life is not just about vegetables. At least a few (hundred) of us are craving color in our lives! Thankfully, there are a number of flowering annuals that are also frost tolerant. Pansies and violas are blooming away, and sure to put a smile on your face. The wall of calibrachoas (aka million bells, or callies, or “those flower that look like small petunias but aren’t petunias”) is full of vibrant colors. Petunias- the real petunias- are blossoming, and the variety of colors is fantastic. Petunias can handle frost, but won’t do much growing until days get warmer. Osteospermums or African daisies are bursting with flower buds, and a few have popped open. Snap dragons are a remarkably frost tolerant plants and come in a variety of heights and colors. This year’s batch of perennials that were seeded in winter are now outside, hardened off, and ready to be established in your yard. Some are even blooming already!
If bulbs are your thing, there are a number of spring bulbs to consider planting now: dahlias, lilies, callas, and gladiolus. All have a variety of colors to choose from, and do well in our area. Budget minded gardeners might consider sowing flowering sweet peas, pansies and bachelor’s buttons seeds in your garden beds. They all flower prolifically for a long time.
In case you’re leaning more towards permanent plants, spring is a fabulous time to plant trees, shrubs, and perennials. The soil has gathered moisture through recent storms, and has softened up. Digging is easier now then in the fall after heat and low moisture has compacted the soil to a cement-like state.
So go ahead, scratch that gardening itch!
If you haven’t checked out the new and improved Sprouts web page in the last month, here are three reasons why you should:
1) It’s a fabulous place to research the 900+ varieties of trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals and vegetables that we grow and sell.
2) You can make on-line purchases of many of our trees, shrubs and perennials (for store pick up)
3) You’ll receive a 20% discount for on-line orders placed before April 15th
Spend all the time you care to on-line, no kids tugging at your sleeve, no spouse sighing at your declaration of going back into greenhouse 1 for another look. Stacy, who did much of the work, thinks it will help customers “put a planting plan together with all of the information about mature plant size, zones, spacing, bloom times, and so on. It will be easier for customers to plan their dream garden!”
For instance, once you click on “perennials” the next screen shows you a variety of ways to consider options, from sun requirements to height to water needs. As Griff is quick to point out, “There is a heading titled ‘Deer Resistant’ which many of our gardeners will find helpful. Please note that the phrase is deer resistant and not deer proof!”
Being able to submit your order on-line for store pick up or delivery is a nice customer service touch that Griff is excited to offer. “Some of our customers are short on time, or are passing through town. We have a lot of customers who live outside of Fremont County, so this will help them know what’s available before hopping in the car and making the drive.”
Who doesn’t love saving money? You’ve got plenty of time to make decisions about what perennials, shrubs and trees you want plant this year. You’ll receive 20% off orders placed before April 15th.
If you’re not comfortable with making a purchase on-line, call the store at 800-479-3572 with your purchase list. Also, please call for delivery estimate prior to buying on-line if you plan to have your purchased delivered.
Gardening and Backyard Living Expo
Mark your calendars and join the fun at the expo. Admission is free, and there are 10 information sessions offered on everything from saving seeds to enhancing garden production, everything about chickens “pasture to plate” to container gardening made easy.
Bring the kids along, and they’ll have fun at the Kids Corner while you listen to lectures or stroll through displays of new products for gardening, landscaping or outdoor recreation. Concessionaires will be there in case you need a bite to eat.
There will also be raffle prizes. Be sure to enter for drawings for gift baskets and for a balled and burlapped tree from Sprouts. We'll be there and hope to see you!
Saturday, April 11th
9 am -3 pm
Lander Valley High School Field House
The weather is warm and sunny, the ground moist and muddy. <sigh> That can only mean one thing: it’s time for us to be taunted! Are you mesmerized by dazzling arrays of seeds at the stores, big walls of displays touting abundant flowers and picture perfect vegetables? Perhaps the mail has inundated you with catalogs filled with pictures of lush, bright flowers and sumptuous garden produce. It’s like those wicked seed producers know we’re tired of frozen ground and pale pink, plastic shaped tomato- like objects at the store.
Those villains know our weaknesses, alright. GRRRRRR.
Our catalogs have tons of pages earmarked and lots and lots of items are circled. Shoot, I circled at least one dozen interesting bell peppers alone. Just like you shouldn’t go grocery shopping when you’re hungry, it’s best not to start ordering seeds when you’re suffering from #IamSOoverWinterIcantstandit! Look through catalogs and gawk at displays all you want, but when it comes time to purchase, be deliberate.
Here are things that we- myself and Semi-Benevolent Garden Dictator Laura Norman- think about when buying seeds:
- Length of growing season: Don’t get suckered into buying frost sensitive plants that need 100 days to mature. Even 80 days is pushing it unless you have season extenders. Unfortunately, corn, peppers, and big slicing tomatoes often have lengthy maturation periods, try to select a variety that’s has a shorter season.
- Double Dip: On the flip side, it’s nice to plant short season things in succession. Plant radishes, carrots, spinach, and cilantro in July or August for a fall harvest.
- Tried and True Varieties: Griff really likes Goliath tomatoes and Red Rubin basil. They do well in the area and are consistent producers.
- Disease resistance: If you have issues with late blight affecting plants (like I do), buy seeds for tomatoes that have higher late blight resistance to plant. Given the alkaline soils around here, getting potatoes that are scab resistant is a good idea.
- Special use: You might have certain dishes that you want to make. Maybe it’s poblano peppers to stuff or use in special dishes; or winter squashes to cook, bake, or use in soups.
- Different than what’s available locally: For a long time, fennel wasn’t available in the grocery stores. Since that was a favorite, Laura planted it each year.
- Trying new things: Maybe you’re looking for colorful salads, so you pick a lettuce seed mix that has a variety of leaf colors. Or carrots that have a purple outside, and bush beans that are speckled. Or think fresh okra might taste good (hint: it does!)
- High yield or Flavor: If you are planning on canning, you’ll want varieties that are heavy producers so you can put up a hefty batch at once. The Cherokee purple tomato produces scrumptious fruit but sadly isn’t a high yielding plant.
- Storage Quality: If using your produce into the winter is your goal, then you’ll want to pay attention to this. Some onions are good keepers, others aren’t. Ditto for winter squashes.
- Space considerations: Pole beans can produce a substantial crop while taking up less space in your garden plot than bush beans. Trellising cucumbers are the same way.
- Economics: You might focus on getting seeds for something that you’ll want a lot of plants of. A packet could produce many, many plants for $3, whereas buying seedlings will cost much more.
- Entice kids to eat veggies: Kids get a kick out of watching plants grow and then harvesting the fruits of their labor. More kids would eat Brussel sprouts if they grew them! This year we have a variety of summer squash called “Flying Saucers” which might appeal to the younger crowd.
- Fuss Factor: You need adequate space, light, and time to manage starting seeds indoors, so consider what level of “fuss factor” you’ll willing to engage with. Are you willing to share you kitchen table or counter with plants that will continue to covet more room?
- “Missy-laneous”: There are all sorts of other considerations, from how many seeds are in a packet, to some plants not being good bets because they bolt too fast in our climate. I’ve been on a quest to find a true chocolate cherry tomato for several years now. (Another variety this year- sixth time is the charm!). Fun names might catch your attention of something to try. I fell for “Long Island Cheese” winter squash because of the name. I prefer purple pole beans because they are easier to find in the mass of green leaves. After sowing fussy, tiny carrot seeds and spending way too much time thinning them, purchasing whatever variety comes in seed tape or pelletized (makes the seeds bigger) is my preferred way to go.
Hey, why are you still sitting there? The garden is waiting.