Planning the Vegetable Garden

    • Spring vegetables can be planted now. Start your garden with broccoli, cabbage, lettuce spinach and chard. It pays to grow your own!
    • Flowering dogwoods, Japanese maples and tulip magnolias can be planted now during the dormant season from balled & burlapped specimens.
    • Clean out bird houses. Remove old nesting material and scrub the inside with a solution of one part bleach to nine parts water.
    • Blueberries make delicious fruit on attractive plants that you can use in the orchard or the landscape. Choose varieties now.
    • Cut branches of forsythia, pussy willow, quince, spirea, and dogwood and bring them indoors to force them into bloom.

Time for a Little Planning

If you’ve been thinking about planting a vegetable or herb garden, but haven’t taken the plunge yet, this is your year. With food prices on the rise and other uncertainties, this is a great time to get started.

Start with a plan, whether a simple one or a complex diagram, so that you’ll be ready to begin planting when the weather permits. You need to decide what you are going to plant and when you are going to plant it.

Vegetables can be divided into warm season crops and cool season crops. Cool season crops include broccoli, cabbage, Swiss chard, spinach, lettuce, peas, carrots, onions and beets. Some warm season crops are tomatoes and peppers, squash, cucumbers, melons, corn and beans.

Cool season vegetables can be planted directly into the garden in March. These hardy plants can stand the frosts that will continue through March and April.
Warm season vegetables can be planted in the garden beginning in May. The average date of the last frost in Willits is May 12th, and sometimes there are killing frosts through the month of May. So you need to be prepared to protect young transplants and seedlings until summer arrives.

You can also plant some of the cool season vegetables for a fall crop, but these must be set out in August in order to fruit before the very cold weather arrives in mid-November. Part of your garden plan should leave room for these fall vegetables. In our climate, if you wait until the summer crops come out to plant fall crops, you will be too late.

First decide which vegetables your family eats and have some idea of how much. Do you eat one head of lettuce a week or three? Then determine how much produce you want to can, freeze, dry, or store. Successive plantings of certain crops, such as beans, will give a longer harvest period and increase your yield.

Try not to plant vegetables from the same family (peas and beans or squash and pumpkin) in exactly the same location in the garden more often than once in three years. Rotation prevents the buildup of insects and disease. Use your previous years’ plans as guides for rotating crops.

A good vegetable garden must have at least 6 hours of full sun each day. Eight to 10 hours a day is ideal. No amount of fertilizer, water, or care can replace needed sunshine.

An area that gets less sun can successfully grow beets, chard, carrots, radishes, cabbage, spinach and lettuce.

Once you have a plan laid out, visit your local nursery to choose seeds from the seed racks and you will be ready to plant. You will also find transplants there in season and plenty of help for new gardeners. Happy gardening!

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