Food Abundance in May : Spring Planting Ends & Succession Planting Begins

Today is a very exciting day in our zone 5 garden, because we just finished all of our spring planting. Last weekend we planted beans and tomatoes.

And this weekend we planted sweet potato slips, and transplanted peppers and eggplants into their outdoor containers. Though it has been a very busy couple of weeks, what makes this garden different, say, than the one I grew up with in upstate new york is that we didn't plant everything in may.

Instead, we started direct sowing cool weather crops way back in early march. This not only made the work much easier to manage by spreading it out over time, it also resulted in a garden that is very far along and very productive at a time when most gardens in zone 5 are just getting started.

Now that spring planting is complete. I thought i'd talk about what worked well and what didn't. For our successes, i'll focus on where we pushed the limits of season extension more than in the past but still got great results.

For a frame of reference when talking about planting dates, our average last frost date is april 27. On the weekend of march 5th, we started sugar snap peas, radishes, and spinach under a low tunnel in this bed.

And we removed the low tunnel on april 10th, when there were no freezing temperatures in the extended forecast. We started harvesting radishes in april and have picked nearly all of them now.

The spinach took a while to get going, but we’ve been enjoying it for the last few weeks and will harvest the rest soon because some plants are bolting. As we finish the radishes and spinach, the sugar snap peas are quickly climbing the trellis and flowering.

We’ll be snacking on fresh sugar snap peas in no time at all. We also planted the front half of this bed under a low tunnel on march 5 and removed the low tunnel on april 10.

We planted beets, carrots, parsnips, spinach, and lettuce, and everything is doing very very well. But the only thing we've harvested so far is some spinach and lettuce.

But what i'm really looking forward to is having fresh parsnips from the garden. It's something I haven't had for many years. We pushed the limits of season extension more than in the past with these crops as well.

We started them under a cold frame on march 12 and removed it on april 10. The carrots, rutabagas, and turnips are all doing great, but the beets are struggling a bit because they're shaded out by the turnips.

So, i'll pick some turnips to give the beets a little more sunshine. Of all the crops we started early, i'm most excited about these yukon gold and norland red potatoes that we started under cover on march 26.

We kept the cover on until about our average last frost date. Now, of course, the true test of these potatoes will be the potatoes themselves, but I couldn't be happier with how well the plants are doing.

Our plan is to harvest these potatoes when they’re still small for an early season crop. We have potatoes growing in other areas of the garden for later in the season.

If we’re happy with the harvest, we’ll start potatoes under cover even earlier next year probably in mid-march. Though we mostly started cool weather crops early, we also started some summer crops early under protection.

And the one i'm most excited about is this zucchini plant, which we started on april 16 under a cold frame. And I hope we don't have too many more cold nights, because this plant has already outgrown this cold frame.

Okay, those were some of our successes. Now let's talk about our one failure, which was entirely my fault. I started tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants in plastic jugs here in the hoop house in mid-march. My intention was to see if we could start these summer crops outside and still get a decent crop despite our short growing season.

Unfortunately, I didn't punch enough drainage and ventillation holes in the jugs, and the inside of the jugs became very moldy, which caused the plants to die.

This doesn't mean i've given up entirely, though. I hope to try the experiment again next year applying what i've learned from this year's experience. Now that spring planting is complete, there's going to be a lot less work to do in the garden, and i'll turn my attention to maintenance and succession planting.

I already started succession planting by planting acorn squash seeds in the biodegradable pot, which i'll transplant into this bed as soon as we've harvested the radishes and spinach. If I get the timing right, the acorn squash should take off and start climbing the trellises at just about the same time our sugar snap peas are done producing and are ready to be cut back.

I also started butternut squash in this biodegradable pot and will transplant it into this bed as soon as we've harvested some of these carrots and parsnips. I'll also install a trellis for the squash to climb.

And the last bit of succession planting we're planning for the very near future is to transplant this pot, where we've started patty pan squash, into this compost bin where we're currently growing potatoes.

We hope that happens in mid-june when the potatoes are ready to harvest. I sincerely hope that my spring planting series and succession planting videos to come will help you grow more healthy nutritious food for you and your family.

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