Sunday, February 22, 2015

Spring Really Is Coming

In spite of the record cold over the last week, Spring really is coming. Here we are at the last week in February and it is time to get the slow growing garden plants going. Peppers are the big thing for me since around here I target the last week of April to get the peppers and tomatoes in the ground. Pepper seeds planted this week will, with luck, be ready to go into the garden when the soil temperatures warm. Slow to germinate and slow to get going you really need them started in the next few days.

My shallots and leeks are just peeking through the soil. I started them a couple of weeks ago and they have been in the greenhouse keeping nice and warm with a grow mat underneath. They don't mind cool but need some warmth to germinate.

I won't start tomatoes for another couple of weeks as they germinate quickly and grow much faster. If I start them too early they will be too leggy before the ground is warm enough. If the ground is too cold the tomato plants will just sit there and do nothing until the ground warms.

Time to think about companion plants for the garden as well. The right plants in the garden will go a long way in helping you with pests. They also have the added bonus of bringing some color.
You can't beat Marigolds as companions with just about any garden plant. They repel beetles, nematodes, and even some animal pests. I plant them everywhere I have a square foot of space. They typically stay small and compact and they also attract bees and butterflies. Zinnas are good too but they can get pretty tall.

Other good companion plant can act as trap plants, luring insects to themselves instead of your precious vegetables. Nasturtiums, for example, are so favored by aphids that the devastating insects will flock to them instead of other plants.

Carrots, dill, parsley, and parsnip attract garden heroes — praying mantises, ladybugs, and spiders — that munch on insect pests. I always have plenty of dill, basil and parsley planted in the garden. Besides their value as pest prevention they are a must for cooking. The parsley will even overwinter in many parts of the country.

Don't forget about what I call "quickie veges": Lettuce, radishes, and other quick-growing plants sown between hills of melons or winter squash will mature and be harvested long before these vines need more leg room.

No comments: