Good Gardening: Plants Know Best

Mar 5, 2018


I have a mental calendar of when plants should bloom, and I should put seeds in the ground for my vegetable garden. I rarely follow the schedule, and the plants never do.

Peach blossoms
Credit wikipedia commons

My peach trees have been blooming in February the last few years. Despite the danger of losing the crop to a late frost, cobbler, pie, and fresh fruit have been abundant.

This year, the blossoms are still tightly closed despite the June-uary weather we had in the first month of 2018. Our plants are smarter than we are, and if you haven't learned that lesson yet, you should start paying attention.

If the weeds and grass are not growing, it is unlikely your vegetable plants will. Soil temperature is a better test for planting time than the calendar.

Lettuce, peas and kale will sprout in 35 degree soil, but it can take weeks. In 65 degree dirt, the seeds will be up in a few days.

Broccoli, cabbage, and older corn varieties like soil closer to 60 degrees.

And melons, squash, eggplant, and the super sweet corns will do best in soil that is close to 70.

You can do a few things to warm up the ground, and get the season started early. Milk jug mini-greenhouse, or cold frames can help. Some people put black plastic down for a few days.

But if the weather is cool and rainy, the soil won't be ready.

Extremely wet soil can be a problem too. Potatoes, seeds, and even plant starts can rot in the wet ground if you put them in too early.

Now I do like to push the envelope- the seed packet really. Planting beetson a warm March afternoon might give you borscht in May, and April planted corn can be eaten in July. The rewards of an early crop are huge- and failure costs only pennies if you plant seeds.