Spring is in full force around here. There are now just as many warm days as there are cold ones and the nights are a little less freezing than usual. It’s time to start planting things in the garden!
A few weeks back we planted seeds in newspaper pots and the ones that are going to sprout have sprouted and they are well on their way to being ready to plant out. But before they get that big we’ve begun planting some seeds directly in the garden. Planting seeds is one of our kids favourite things to do in the garden, digging around in the dirt, mucking around with the watering can, and checking on them each day to see when (if!) they have burst through the surface. It’s a fabulous kid friendly food garden activity.
Here’s a few things we’ve learned about planting seeds directly in the garden over the years…
When to Plant…
When to plant is one of the most crucial things when it comes to planting seeds direct. Most of the summer veggie crops won’t survive a frost, and many need the soil to be warm before they will germinate. You need think about when the last frost is likely to be in your area, or how you could protect your precious seedlings from frost. You also need to read the seed packet and if you are planting early like we have, choose seeds that will still germinate in cooler soils, leave the others till later.
What to Plant…
I know I keep saying it again and again, but my best advice on this one is to plant the things your family eats! So after you’ve thought about that, now think about plants with large seeds which are easy for small fingers to handle.
This past weekend we planted two types of zucchini – black beauty and golden, yellow button squash and some climbing beans. Over the next few weeks as the weather gets warmer here we’ll plant pumpkins, corn, more beans, sunflowers, cucumbers, radishes and last of all watermelon and rock melon who need it to be nice and warm.
We’ve planted some of these things as seeds inside and will transplant the seedlings soon, but we will also plant seeds directly at the same time in the hope of having a second, successive crop, rather than everything fruiting all at once… at least that is the plant!
How to Plant…
Planting in the garden couldn’t be easier. If you have nice crumbly, rich soil then just dig right in… if not add some compost or well rotted manure (we are lucky enough to live in an area where horse poop is $1 a bag!) to the garden bed a week or two prior to planting.
Follow in the instructions on the seed packet and choose a nice sunny spot, mound up some dirt, make a hole and pop your seed in. Cover over the seed and water well. That’s it!
Mark Your Spot…
Take it from me… you really need to record what you plant where, otherwise you might spend weeks thinking that plant is a cucumber until it suddenly sprouts pumpkins!
We’ve tried lots of different plant markers but this year we’ve gone for the twig plant markers. They were easy to make and free!
This year I am also drawing a plan of our garden in a notebook and writing down the date things were planted. I hope to be able to keep better track of where and when we planted things, and how they did so I can use that information to make the garden better next year.
What About Seedlings?
We plant most of our garden from seed, it’s cheap and easy. But there are somethings that our shortish warm growing season just can’t manage. Things like eggplants and capsicum just don’t have enough warm days to germinate grow and fruit from seed. We also buy one or two tomato seedlings as well as growing them from seed, in the vain hope that we might have tomatoes before March… but that rarely happens here!
Watch out for Frost and Other Nasties…
To get a jump start on the growing season and to combat the very real possibility that we’ll have a frost as late as December up here, we give some of our plants a little extra protection. We planted capsicum seedlings (and will add eggplant too when I can get them) in a garden bed that has a cold frame made from our old glass shower screen over it. When our tomatoes go in we’ll use plastic soft drink bottles with the top and bottom cut off to make a little plastic wall around the small seedlings, for a little extra protection.
I am also on the look out for anything that might eat our precious seedlings as they sprout. I have an ongoing battle with ear wigs and use this home made earwig trap with some success. We also use beer traps for snails as well as crushed eggshells around plants to help keep them at bay. This year I suspect mice will be our biggest problem!
What’s being planted in your garden?
Got any great tips for growing a veggie garden? I’d love you to share them!
If you missed it, you can check out my first post about kid friendly food gardening when we shared how we plant seeds inside to get a head start. And stay tuned for more ‘Kid Friendly Food Gardening’ posts. We’ll let you know how our seeds do as well as more adventures in our garden.
Please let me know if there is something specific about gardening that you’d like me to blog about. I am no expert, but we have lots of fun mucking around in the garden and love to share our triumphs, and failures! And please share a link to your gardening posts – we love to read about everyone’s garden!