Our first sunny days in the 50’s and 60’s are here and many backyard growers, community gardeners and urban farmers are looking to get outside to start spring planting. One important step in this process is to make sure the seed that you are using will have decent germination rates to ensure that you do not start with a crop failure at the beginning. Click HERE for a link to vegetable seed viability times.
Have you soil tested your vegetable garden recently? Making sure that you have enough nutrition present to grow your vegetables is another important step in making sure that you have a productive season. Contact your local Extension office to find out about soil testing kits for purchase.
The National Weather Service Climate Prediction center has their three month projection for April-May-June for temperature and precipitation. (LINK)
One very important variable to monitor is soil temperatures. Since seeds are in primary contact with soil and need that seed-soil contact to germinate, it is more important to monitor soil temperature than air temperature. Certain seed varieties will need certain temperatures based on what family of vegetable they are in. Most spring vegetables germinate reliably in cooler soil than summer vegetables.
Currently soil temperatures as monitored by the Columbus Station (Waterman Farm) of the OARDC Weather System are around 40 degrees F at 5 cm and 10 cm soil depth. (LINK) If you garden in a raised bed, you may have warmer soil than a level garden plot. This may allow earlier planting than normal.
Make sure that you do not work the soil via tillage if it is too wet, especially with the heavy clay soils common in central Ohio. This could create a poor growing condition for the entire season if large clumps of compacted soil are created when tilling wet soil.
If you have started transplants under grow lights in a seed station, it may be time to transplant them into individual cells. Check out this video that will show how to divide and transplant seedlings into cell packs.
Good choices for spring vegetables to direct seed into the garden once your soil is above 40 degrees F:
- Swiss Chard
- Cabbage family
Seed potatoes can be planted later this week if the soil is not too wet to work. If you wish to plant onions but are unsure if you should use seeds vs. sets vs. transplants then click on this article that goes over the benefits of each type of onion planting.
It will be time to plant transplants in the garden as soon as we get a few more degrees of soil temperature increase. If you have transplants under the grow lights, it is important that you harden them off for a period to acclimate them to their future outdoor home. It takes about 3-7 days of gradually introducing transplants to outdoor weather and temperature before they will be adjusted and have success in the ground. Do not forget this step, it is important to do this to minimize transplant shock.