Plant Now

This time of year is like Christmas down at my shop. We’re busy getting all kinds of exciting garden supplies delivered, from shovels and hoes to vegetable seeds. I know these types of products are ho-hum to most of you, but not to avid gardeners who have been dreaming for months about getting outside and growing. So let’s chat about what you can grow now.

Sure it’s sloppy, snowy and cold at the moment, but there are some veggies that don’t care about those conditions. In fact, they love it.

Now’s the time to be planting snow peas, carrots, radish, Swiss chard, kale, spinach, onion and beets. Repeat planting every 10 days or so.

Veggies like spinach and radish will be ready for harvest in about a month, fresh from your garden. Others will take about 60 days. Imagine eating fresh veggies from your garden in the early days of April. Yum!

Even if you are an apartment dweller with no place to garden, you can still grow these veggies in containers outside. The only requirement is it must be a sunny location.

In fact, one of the most popular activities to do now is to create a salad bowl full of veggies. To get started you’ll need a pot – one with drain holes at the bottom. Some good quality potting soil, a little bit of fertilizer and of course seeds.

Place the soil in the container and add water until all the soil is moist. Follow the seed packet’s instructions of planting, watering and fertilization. The fun part is to plant a variety of greens in the bowl. Most veggie greens can be clipped off when they reach 2 inches or so to create a salad. The remaining portions of the plants will regrow, providing several more opportunities to enjoy your salad.

Make a salad bowl for you and your family, but make several more to give away to family and friends. I guarantee you nobody would turn down a salad bowl full of homemade grown greens.

Changing gears slightly, when selecting these and other veggies, a gardener may see terms on the seed packets such as ‘heirloom’ or ‘F1’ and not know what these terms mean. An heirloom vegetable means that the genetic quality of the plant has remained true for several generations – often 50 years or more. These are veggies that self-pollinate and if you like how it performs, you can collect the seeds and expect similar results next year.

F1 is a breeding term referring to the plant being a hybrid. Plant breeders often use two superior plants in crossbreeding to produce off-spring that are even more productive than either parent, the F1. Collecting seed from a F1 for use the following season is not recommended as the genetic variability will be huge. In other words, no one can predict what the results will be.

I know winter and winter-like conditions will prevail in Wyoming for a couple more months. Nonetheless, it is gratifying to know we can start to garden now.

Originally published in the Casper Star-Tribune, March 8, 2015