Yo siembro la granja!  I seed the farm!  It is April and if you live anywhere north of the Equator you are probably starting to start your seeds in little trays, cups, little pots or containers…whatever’s handy.  As Martha Stewart would say…“It’s a good thing!”

Thanks to my membership in the Garden Resource Program, I have collected and will soon start enough seeds that will grow so much food I could feed the proverbial army.  By following the guidelines provided by the program, I am starting about three weeks earlier than last year and the goal is to extend my growing season by six weeks.  This year I can reasonably expected to begin eating produce from my garden in May…not June or in the case of some vegetables, July.  Talk about progress!

This year I have already started:

Giant Delicious Tomato (new)                         

California Wonder Bell Pepper

Jalapeno Pepper

Long Slim Cayenne Pepper

Chinese Decorative Pepper

Italian Beefsteak Tomato

Giant Yellow Bell Pepper (new)

Sweet Banana Pepper

Ancho/Poblano Pepper

I will be looking to set up the following over the next few days:

Collard/Mustard Greens

Lettuces

Spinach

Cabbage

Broccoli

Squash

Zucchini

Herbs

So how do you know what plants to start indoors or what you can put directly in the ground?  Well, according to the information provided through the resource program the determining factors are soil temperature and how long it will take for a seed to germinate.  Simply put, some seeds/plants do well in cool weather and some do well after the soil has warmed to a consistent temperature that promotes growth.  Planting warm weather crops early can cause them to rot in the ground or suffer from frost.  Planting cool weather crops when it is too hot may cause them to shrivel up and die, go to seed before they can be harvested or compromise the quality.  Last year I experienced problems from both ends of the spectrum.  So by starting the plants indoors I can put my plants out at the optimum times, which will virtually guarantee a successful and productive garden.

What are some of the basic “cool weather” crops?

Greens/Cabbage/Lettuces/Spinach/Chard

Beets/Turnips

Peas

Onions/Leaks

Potato

Strawberry

These seeds can survive light frosts.  Plant in late March/early April.  Some varieties might do well slightly earlier, so this is a “safe” recommendation.

Spring?

Cucumbers

Herbs (Dill, Cilantro)

Fennel

Broccoli Raab

Carrots/Parsnips/Radishes

Okra

Summer Squash/Zucchini

Flowers

These seeds might not germinate well or rot in the ground if they are planted before a frost.  The average last frost date in Detroit is May 10th, but can vary greatly from year to year.  Pay attention to weather reports!

Hot weather?

Tomato

Peppers (Hot or Sweet)

Beans

Melons

Eggplant

Sweet Potato

Winter Squash

Herbs

These seeds can be sown repeatedly throughout the summer for a continuous harvest.  Pay attention to the days to maturity and plan to the days to maturity and plan for enough time for them to grow before the first frost.  The average first frost date is October 9th in Detroit, but can vary greatly from year to year.

Fall?

Carrots

Peas

Greens/Cabbages/Lettuces/Spinach/Kale

Broccoli

Scallions

These are some of the plants that one can “sow” in either early spring or late summer/fall.  Mainly these are the “cool weather” crops, which don’t do well in the summer heat.  Plan for two separate plantings and harvests.  Some of these crops taste better after the first light frost of the fall.

Much thanks to the people at the Garden Resource Program.  Even though I have been gardening for years, I am finding that they are a great resource.  Much of the information presented here has come from them.  I highly recommend them for anybody that is planning or maintaining an existing garden.  From what I understand you don’t have to live in the city of Detroit to gain access to their information.  A small donation of $5.00 is all it takes.  Think about it…“It’s a good thing!”

For more information about The Garden Resource Program please go to:

www.detroitagriculture.org.

For additional information about soil temperatures and related gardening topics go to:

http://migarden.msu.edu

www.gardeningclub.com

www.urbanfarmonline.com

www.organicgardening.com

www.marthastewart.com/gardening

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