For Love of Gardening


Getting an early start on Spring Gardening


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For an early start on your spring garden it is time to get started.
Start with ordering seeds that are hardy for your area, but don't settle for the 'popular' varieties. Heirloom seeds produce just as well and offer many benefits.

You can start growing quite a few vegetables right now on your windowsill, or in a greenhouse.

Tomatoes

Here are some tomato recommedations by a horticulturalist:
    Golden Cherry: A Japanese variety with a juicy sweet flavour and a small orange or yellow fruit that hangs in bunches from the vine. It is resistant to cracking.
      Rosella: This deep pink cherry tomato has the combined flavour of raspberries, blackberries and summer fruits.
        Artisan Tiger: This produces a colourful striped mix of red, green and yellow fruit with a sweet tropical flavour.
          Monserrat: This can grow to the size of a fist and weigh half a kilo. This Spanish variety is best eaten raw thinly sliced, with salt and olive oil.

Use a heated propagator or heat mat to get your seeds started, preferably with a shallow tray and cover the seeds with vermiculite, which is a natural mineral that helps to retain water and aid in germination.
In about 3 weeks, when leaves have sprouted, transplant seedlings to 3" pots. Then again when the plants are about to flower, re-pot into a 12-inch or wider pot.

Peppers and Chilies

Another good choice for an early spring windowsill or greenhouse are peppers and chilies.
While mature fruit usually has a better flavor, keep in mind that the longer you leave them on the plant the lower the yield because they prevent new flowers from being formed.

Carrots, parsnips, beetroot, cabbage, peas, runner beans and herbs

Easy to grow vegetables in spring are carrots, parsnips, beetroot, cabbage, peas, runner beans and herbs.
These should all be kept indoors or in a greenhouse until May, but that doesn't prevent getting an early start.
Plants must be well watered and given sufficient root space for them to grow.

Lettuce

Lettuce is a highly successful vegetable for early planting and windowsill or greenhouse growing.
In cold climates the lettuce can be transplanted or sown outdoors around April, but will require some sort of weather protection, like a transparent plastic or glass cover, plastic tunnel or horticultural fleece. These will all help protect against frost.
Slugs and snails can be detered using slug pellets (preferably pet/child safe varieties) or by using copper, as slugs do not like to crawl over this metal.


Garlic and Onion


Garlic, onion and shallot prefer to be direct sown, so best to wait until around April.
Relatively hardy plants, they like sunshine and well-drained soil. Netting is a good idea, too, as birds and insects enjoy them.
Chives can easly be grown both indoors on the windowsill or in a greenhouse.


Potatoes


Get a head start on your potatoes by putting the seed tubers in a suitable container inside your house by a cool, but well lit windowsill.
After the buds appear and are about 1/2" long, it's time to plant. Rather than putting them straight into the garden, use a large tub or plant bag. Later, around April or May, the plants can be transplanted into the garden.
Early potatoes may be ready in late June, when the plants start to flower. Crop failures are usually caused by poor seed quality, so buy from a reputable seed potato company.



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