More likely than not you’ve checked the weather report recently or heard that the coming week is supposed to be beautiful and warm. Many gardeners take this as an indication to get their vegetables going, but don’t be fooled, a cool air still hovers over the Willamette Valley. Damaging, light frosts overnight that may leave you wondering what happened to your fragile seeds are a definite possibility, so be wary. In order to avoid losing plants to unpredictable frosts, it is better to wait until late-April to early-May to plant heating loving starts like tomatoes and peppers. However, there’s still plenty of important work that can be done.
Here are a few choice items you can plant now (if you haven’t already):
Spinach is a vegetable superstar. Not only does it pack a vitamin punch, it’s able to weather the frosts of spring. Spinach grows best in soil with a pH between 6.5 and 7 that drains well. Plant spinach about five weeks before the final spring frost. This normally means you’ll be able to get out in the garden and plant spinach in late-March. If you haven’t planted from seed at this point, you can always get starts in the ground as an alternative.
Like spinach, peas do well when planted around five weeks before the final frost. They’ll do best when planted an inch or two below the ground and should provide a great yield if started early.
Another vitamin-packed vegetable, broccoli is sun-loving and is best sowed into the ground about three weeks out from the final frost. Broccoli prefers a slightly acidic soil and loves the nutrient availability of composts and manure.
A cool-season vegetable, lettuce is best sown into the ground around 2-3 weeks prior to the final frost, though the seeds are hardy enough to manage a frost or two. This veggie also enjoys a slightly acidic pH and soils full of organic matter that retain water yet drain well.
Onions are hardy and able to grow as long as temperatures don’t drop below 20 degrees F, meaning they can really be planted throughout March. To be on the safe side, however, get to planting your onions now in slightly acidic soil.
The above list is just a sampling of a few vegetables that can withstand the final frosts of the year. Other plants that can manage the temperatures of early-spring are leeks, asparagus, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, and radish. And while these vegetables are hardy enough to survive the cooler weather or early-to-mid spring, what they can’t survive is bad soil. To ensure your vegetables grow, make sure to supply them with a nutrient-packed growing medium, like Nature’s Best and amend your weathered existing soil with a great compost like VeggieBoost or Barnyard Compost.