Oct 13

When to Plant – Mid-Spring

Around the middle of April in Zones 5-6 (or 6-8 weeks before the last expected frost) you can plant:

Asparagus Herbs Leeks Onions Parsnips Potatoes Blueberries-Grapes-Raspberries-Strawberries

Asparagus takes a few years to grow but is well worth it. Plant where the tall fronds won’t shade other vegetables.

Herbs can be seeded at this time. I prefer to grow herbs in pots, especially the perennial ones; otherwise they can take over the garden. Even though they are grown in pots, I still find myself pulling up mint plants all over the garden each spring. An exception here would be Basil, it prefers warmer temperatures.

Leeks are easy to grow. Just poke a hole in the ground (I use a dowel) and drop the leek transplant in. Water them then let the rain fill in the hole. If you want to ‘blanch’ leeks, you can pile soil up around them as they grow, giving you a bigger bottom. I never bothered.

Onions can be grown from seed, sets or transplants. I have not tried seeds (other than scallions) but grow a lot of onions from transplants and sets. The transplants produce sooner and there are many more choice of types. I prefer some reds and whites for fresh eating and dehydrating/freezing/canning, and some yellows for storing in the fridge. I also throw in some seeds sets mainly because I can’t pass them by at the local nursery.

Parsnips require a long growing season (about 110 days) and can tolerate frosts. Plant early and leave a few in the garden to ‘winter-over’ for even better taste early next spring.

Potatoes can easily be grown in 30 gallon ‘trash’ cans, producing a large crop in limited space. The flavor of homegrown potatoes really surprised me. It is best to use ‘certified seed potatoes’ as these are more disease resistant. In a pinch you can buy some nice potatoes at the market and plant them. In 1999 my local provider sold out -everyone was Y2K preparing- so I bought some Green Giant Idaho potatoes and they worked just fine. The yield was a little less though, but that could have been the season.

Grapes and Berries are grouped together because they are planted at the same time and are all perennials. Harvests get better over time.

Blueberries -Remember you need 2 different types for cross-pollination.

Grapes -For juice, I think seedless Concords are best.

Strawberries -Follow planting guides carefully!

Raspberries -If you like raspberries you can save a lot of money by growing your own. The reason they are expensive is not because they are hard to grow, they are just so delicate they are hard to transport. These canes are very intrusive so consider carefully where to plant. Mine are grown in the regular garden in their own bed, but I do (easily) pull up new plants every spring. I love raspberries with pears, as in Raspberry-Pear Jam or Very Berry Peary Wine.