Hi Folks, in this trying time we wanted to give you some common sense gardening advice. Today we took one a quick trip to a store to buy some vegetable plants. We normally start all of our own, but hadn’t this year. We’re in the process of rehabilitating our nursery beds, so we weren’t planning on a spring garden. But neither were we planning on covid-19.
It’s too late to start your own tomato transplants for spring, so buying tomato plants is a good idea. We recommend Celebrity F1, it’s a great producer of medium size tomatoes. You’ll need to keep it suckered, but we’ll cover that later this spring. Super Sweet 100 is a great cherry tomato and a huge producer. How many should you buy? How big is your garden space? Keep in mind that tomatoes, peppers, potatoes and eggplants are all in the same crop family. To keep pests and diseases down, you need to rotate your crop families through your garden so that it’s 3 years before that family is in that same space again. A space could be part of a bed, a whole bed, several beds. Each full sized tomato plant will need about 4 square feet. Cherry tomatoes can be grown vertically and spaced one feet apart. Don’t buy any tomato plants that have a greater than 80 days to maturity for this spring. The days to maturity starts when you transplant! It gets too hot mid June usually and those longer day plants won’t set fruit.
It’s not too late to start peppers of any kind. But if you want a jump start, almost any kind you can find at the local stores will work well here. Almost. Those green bell peppers that turn red will work but we quit growing those and began growing Purple Beauty instead. If you love green bells, then by all means, get some. But there’s better options out there. We’ll give you some variety recommendations for starting your own in an upcoming post.
Perennial herbs may be a good choice to buy right now if you don’t have any. Oregano, thyme, sage, rosemary and lavender are examples. Annual herbs like basil, you’d be better off buying seed. But honestly , if you need rosemary, there’s a good chance a neighbor has some and a little goes a long way. You can also easily root rosemary cuttings.
It’s more cost effective to buy seeds for things like squash, zucchini, watermelons, basils, lettuce and okra. These plants can be direct seeded in your garden and will grow quickly. A seed packet costs considerably less than 1 or 2 plants and will give you far more plants per packet. Store your unused seeds in a ziplock in your refrigerator.
We’ve posted the handouts from our Introduction to Vegetable Gardening class on our farm facebook group. This group is open to the public and will allow us to answer your gardening questions. Please join us there!