California Gardens - The Year Round Gardening Site

Early Spring Vegetable Garden

Planting an early Spring Vegetable garden is not without its challenges. The soil can be soggy enough that digging and turning it will cause more damage from compaction than good. Cold weather can strike well beyond the nominal frost dates. Many seeds will find the soil too cold to germinate and will just rot. Planting a container garden might move up production timings as the soil warms faster. Planting from plant starts may yield little if a warm spell strikes and they bolt (go to seed). Quick growing greens, peas, raddishes and beets are great ideas to stock your garden. Onion and garlic greens, herbs and strawberries are great early season plants. Lettuce has a short time left in March as Spring arrives but one last crop might make it. Kolrabi, Cabbage and Kale have little hope as they will grow little before a warm spell induces them to go to seed. Spinach and Swiss Chard are great.

I love raised beds. This can be as simple as a mound of earth or can involved a containment made of wood or something more permanent. The goal is to lift the plant crowns above the surrounding soil. Age old concept, plow and furrow provide this. Potatos can be grown in a vertical bed. I use a coarse wire mesh, line the mesh with cut grass and fill the 3 foot diameter 4 foot tall column with rotted compost. I layer in potatos at 3-4" lifts until I get to the top. I water it regularly, when the potato foliage has flowered and the plants are starting to wither I unrap the wire and sift out the potatos.

Basil often comes from the nursery with 25 seedlings in the middle of a4" pot. In this format the plants are of little long term value. But if loosened in water you can have a slew of pesto potential. Chives and green onion starts come the same way. I just bought a 4" pot of chives with several hundred starts. Clumps of 25 or so make sense. The seedlings were started in perlite, white fluffy stuff. Perlite is good for starting plants in a greenhouse but has little sustenance for plants as they grow. I saw carrots, bok choi and others being sold in six packs. The resulting plants will yield little more than you get in the 6 pack and the food is much cheaper at the store. Big seed items like squash are easy to start in the garden or in small pots on the kitchen windowsill. Too early to plant them in the garden but perfect timing to start some seeds indoors.

Tomatos, peppers, corn and beans are summer crops and should not to be purchased yet even if the nursery has plenty for sale. Asparagus takes 3 years for the roots to establish enough that the plants can be cropped. Rhubarb takes years of establishment to survive regular cropping of stems. Artichokes planted now may give a Summer yield but they might also wait until next year.

I have a bunch of California Native edible plants in my garden. Gooseberries, blackberries, native strawberries, yerba santa, and coyote mint top the list.

Recycled Power Pole with Acorn Woodpecker Cavity

Recycled power pole with Acorn Woodpecker Cavity Two acorn woodpeckers have just found thier recycled nest cavity. Find this in our garden image collection.