a tomato and green bean sitting outside

When Can I Plant My Veggies?

One of the most asked questions this time of year: How soon can I plant my veggie garden?

Think about you sleeping outside all night.  If it is too cold for you it is too cold for many of the veggies.  ‘Cool Crops’ can take a frost – so cabbage, broccoli, carrots, peas, beans, lettuce, onions, radish and Swiss chard can all go out into the garden ahead of the ‘Warm Crop’ plants.  Plants like tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and cucumbers will freeze if the temp gets to freezing – plus do not grow well if the soil temperatures are still cold. 

Safest is to plant all warm crops after the official frost-free date, for our garden that is for Barrie May 26  (good list here: http://www.tdc.ca/canadian_frost_dates.htm). 

Now you can cheat – and get warm plants out early – but to succeed you need to be lucky – or careful.  Careful means you need to cover the plants at night on cold nights with little wax paper greenhouses or newspaper tents – also consider a mulch to help keep soil temperatures warmer.  Much safer to stick to the plan and this time of year work all the cool crops first!

Here are some veggie garden basics….

First, make a list of all the vegetables your family enjoys (there’s no use growing a vegetable if it won’t get eaten). Then, put a number beside each variety indicating the number of plants required to feed you and your family. The attached chart will help you as it indicates the number of plants required to feed a family of four.

Find an area, which will receive at least five to six hours of direct sunlight daily. Decide which vegetables and the amount of each you want to include in your garden. Take into consideration: the amount of space you have available (some vegetables need more growing room than others – ex. zucchini is a space-hog – peppers are nice and tidy plants); your own requirements for canning, freezing or table use; local frost dates and climate conditions. For a longer harvest period, plant vegetables at staggered time intervals. Allocate part of your garden for small, rapidly-maturing vegetables (such as radishes, lettuce, spinach). Keep tall vine or pole varieties from overshadowing smaller plants.

The following plants should be started from seed: beans, beets, carrots, corn, peas and radishes. When growing plants from seed, follow the instructions on the seed pack.

Spade soil deeply. Loosen up heavy clay by adding peat moss and manure. Add 1 kg of garden fertilizer per 10 square metres. Turn the soil over again and rake smoothly.

Moisten soil before planting, allowing it to dry slightly until it’s workable. Generally, plant seeds about three times as deep as their diameter. Cover small seeds with finely sifted compost, soil or vermiculite. Plants not in individual containers should be gently separated to retain as much soil around the roots as possible.

Vegetables are thirsty! Water them thoroughly with a mild liquid plant fertilizer to give them a good start. Thereafter, water whenever the soil begins to dry. Water early in the day by soaking the soil. Do not just sprinkle the foliage with water.

Cultivate out weeds as soon as they appear. For easier weed pulling, moisten soil an hour before cultivating. When removing weeds, do not disturb the roots of the plants.

Your vegetables may have problems with insects or disease. If they do, bring a sample of the problem to us and we will help you solve the issue.

Vegetable No. of plants required family of four
Beets 24-30
Broccoli 6
Brussels sprouts 6
Cabbage: early, late 10-12
Cantaloupe 4
Cauliflower 6
Celery 6
Cucumber 2-4
Eggplant 2
Lettuce: head, leaf 10-12
Onions (Spanish) 25
Parsley 4
Peppers 4
Spinach 6
Squash 2-4
Tomatoes 4-6
Watermelon 3-6
*For successive harvesting, plant some of each variety.