When to Plant Field

Larry G. Field
Thursday, February 14, 2019
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I normally rush the season by planting earlier than recommended. You may wish to be more conservative and follow the seed package recommendations. Since cold weather may reduce germination I plant thicker than normal. Occasionally, following my planting, the weather is both cold and wet and the seeds fail to germinate which requires a replanting at a later date.

When I mention “I plant thicker than normal”, I am referring to two planting techniques. If broadcasting small seeds (such as radish, carrot, kohlrabi, etc) in a row, I plant an excess of seeds. When planting spaced seeds such as corn and cucumbers, I normally plant two seeds at each spacing instead of just one. If both germinate I have two options, thin/discard one or dig the plant to transplant to a space where none have germinated.

I plant early to speed crop development and to maximize opportunities for growing double crops during the season.

I also utilize crop “aids”. Water walls are one of the best items ever developed for the home garden. I used to transplant bedding

plant tomatoes to my garden in late May and harvest my first ripe

tomato in July. I now transplant to my garden in early May and leave the water wall in place as long as the contained plant appears healthy and is not overly congested. By late May I have increased the size of the top opening to allow the plant to grow beyond the water wall. By June 1st, if the long range forecast (5-7 day) is promising, I remove the water wall and replace it with a tomato frame. If the plant has emerged from the w. wall and freezing weather is forecast, simply invert a 5 gal white plastic bucket, supported if necessary, over the plant and water wall. Water walls can be utilized for any bedding plant that needs protection.

The humidity will be high inside the water wall so the plant stomas will be open, they react and close slowly. Remove the w. walls on a cool, overcast day or during the evening hours of a hot day to allow the plant to adjust to the lower humidity of the external air. Since using water walls for tomatoes, tomatoes have become our earliest harvest. In the 20 plus years of use we have always had ripe tomatoes before July and frequently before mid-June.

A second germination and early growth aid that I utilize is home made. I have made strong equilateral triangles with 1 ft sides using 2X2 lumber. To encourage growth, I create such mini “green houses” to set over planted rows by connecting two triangles with lengths of 2X2 and covering two sides with clear plastic. I leave the ends open unless cold weather is forecast, in which case I cover the ends to close the openings. I drill the corners of the triangles and use sheet rock screws to assemble the row covers. This makes it easy to disassemble after use and store for future years. For storage, stack like paper cups.

You should follow your supplier’s planting instructions. I rush things by planting, weather permitting:

Onions: As early as available.

Cold resistant plants April 1 or later: root crops, kohlrabi, dill, peas, most greens, others.

Corn May 15-June 15 depending on a favorable 5-7 day forecast.

Warm weather crops June 1 or later, all vine plants including “bush” varieties, beans

In heavy clay soil I use another aid for large seeds. I utilize petri-dishes to start seed germination indoors prior to planting. I place a paper towel in the dish, add large seeds such as pumpkin, corn, etc. cover with a second paper towel and wet. As soon as most seeds have started a root, I carefully (don’t damage) plant as follows: Dig the planting row. Thoroughly soak the bottom of the

row. Place the seeds into the row. Cover with fluffy loose soil. Do

not water until the plants have pushed through the loose soil.

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