Weed It and Reap: Salad Days in the Garden
By Victoria Rolfe
April showers have given way to May flowers, and gardening season is really heating up. Those seeds you planted indoors back in March and early April should be up and getting quite robust by now. Meanwhile, your cool season crops, sown directly into the ground in April, should be beginning to sprout through the soil.
If you haven’t gotten out there yet, no worries. You can still plant many of those seeds now. In fact, you can continue to plant some of them right up until mid-summer. Just about the only spring crops you’ve missed out on (if you haven’t sown cool season seeds yet) are snow peas and spinach. Otherwise, carrots, beets, Swiss chard, lettuce, kale, radishes, and onion sets, among others, are still good to sow.
For frugality’s sake, I usually recommend growing most of your veggies from seed, but you can buy broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts seedlings in cell packs at garden centers and plant them now. These are the cool weather crops that require a longer growing season than our New York climate provides, so they cannot be started directly outdoors from seed here in the Hudson Valley. As you become more experienced and proficient at gardening, you might want to try starting these kinds of seeds indoors during the winter months as well.
And now, as you peruse the tables of veggies growing in cell packs at the garden center, you can delight in the amount of money you saved, as you’ve seen how easy most of these plants are to grow from seed yourself for a fraction of the cost. Why would you pay $2.00 for a measly four-pack of lettuce plants when you can buy a whole packet of seeds for $1.29 and grow as much lettuce as you can possibly eat all summer, and still have enough seeds left over to plant next year?
If your plant space is limited and confined to a deck or balcony, you can still grow edibles. Buy a few cell packs of lettuce and fill a planter (or you can cultivate them from seed, but be careful to keep them watered because pots dry out fast). The leaves can be cut for your salads all summer and they will just keep growing back. You can do this with herbs too, such as basil, oregano, parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme. (Did I just hear you sing that?) Mix and match them together in planters. You can even tuck a few flowers in with them. Beauty for your eyes as well as your taste buds!
Once we get into the second half of May and the days and ground temperatures warm up, it will be time to move those little indoor seedlings we’ve been coddling out to their summer home in the garden. Keep watching this space for more instruction on that. It’s coming soon.
And, as always, I am happy to answer any of your garden questions as we continue along our garden path. Feel free to leave them in the comment section below. Happy gardening!
Victoria Rolfe has had a love of gardening all her life, from the time she was a tiny child coveting the daffodils growing in her neighbor’s yard (and wondering why she couldn’t have them in her own), to her teenage years when she took her pot experimentation in a different direction by growing the seeds she extracted from the bag into a beautiful marijuana plant on her bedroom windowsill. She went on in her adult years to feed her family by growing a huge and bountiful vegetable garden, as well as beautifying her three-acre property with an array of ornamental trees, bushes and flowers in the magnificent Hudson Valley region of New York.
Victoria learned a great deal in the process of all this plant experimentation. She then added to that knowledge by taking courses with the Cornell Cooperative Extension to become a Master Gardener Volunteer. In her volunteer capacity, she helps to educate the public on gardening through classes and information booths, most notably at the Dutchess County N.Y. Fair each August. Throughout the summer months, Victoria is most likely to be found among the weeds, either in her own garden or those of others who actually pay her to play in their dirt and do the thing she loves best, delight in the magical world of gardening.
Victoria is not only a gardening aficionado; she is also passionate about helping people live a better life on less money. Visit her website and blog at brightfuture2budget4.weebly.com, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.