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Early Spring Vegetable & Herb Gardening

You can harvest scrumptious, healthy vegetables and herbs in early spring. Easy to grow, they can be grow in pots or in the ground. One pot containing lettuce, spinach, parsely and chives will reward you with a fresh, salad bar for months. In the St. Louis Missouri area we can begin to plant early spring vegetables and herbs in March. Read on to see how easy it can be.

 

Vegetables & Herbs for spring harvesting include:

Arugula, Beets, Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Cabbage, Carrot, Celery, Collards, Green beans, Kale, Kohlrabi, Leeks, Lettuce, Mustard Greens, Peas, Radish, Rutabaga, Spinach, Swiss Chard, Turnip Greens, Parsley, Chives, Thyme

 

 

Site Selection

Snap peas framedMost vegetables and herbs need plenty of sun to produce a bountiful harvest. Your vegetable garden should be located in a site that receives full sun. Ideally, your plants should receive at least 6-8 hours of sun a day. You can get a way with a little less if your garden is receiving strong midday sun. Too much shade will result in spindly plants with few vegetables.

Water should be readily available for your vegetable garden. If Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate, you’ll want to get your hands on a hose often and easily.

 

 

Soil Preparation

For abundant harvests you’ll want to give your veggies a healthy, nourishing home. It all starts with the soil. In the St. Louis area most of us are dealing with clay soil. Although loaded with nutrients, it is too dense for roots to easily grow. Adding compost, manure, or other organic matter will loosen the soil, allowing the roots to thrive. You’ll want to add enough organic matter to get your soil to a chocolate cake-like consistency: your soil should stay together if squeezed, but crumble when disturbed. Ideally, you should be able to plant your vegetables with your hand, not that you would want to.

Compost, manure, or other organic matter should be added every year. It also can be used as a mulch, enriching your soil as it holds in water and helps keep weeds out.

 

 

Container Grown 

Vegetables and herbs can also be grown in containers. They can be planted alone, or mixed with other plants. Plant in a good, well draining potting soil, in a sunny location. Water when soil is dry.

Fall vegetables framed 8152015

 

 

Seed Or Starts?

Start your cool weather vegetables from seed or purchase starts from a nursery. Plants that germinate easily and mature quickly can be directly sown in the garden, they include arugula, spinach, and various types of lettuce. Others like broccoli, cabbage, kale and collards are better started from transplants. These plants can be started from seeds grown in small containers or can be purchased from nurseries.

To determine the date you will need to start your seeds, look at the back of your seed packet. It will give you the number of days from the time you sow your seeds until harvest. You may want to first select a harvest date, and back up from there. The last frost date in the St. Louis area usually occurs around April 15.

Many cool weather vegetables and herbs can tolerate a frost and transplants can be planted as early as March.

 

 

Fertilizing

Vegetables are hungry eaters and many benefit from an application of fertilizer. You’ll want to apply a fertilizer that contains these three elements: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. For a safe, organic fertilizer we recommend Espoma Garden-tone. Carefully formulated for outstanding results, Garden-tone also contains Bio-tone, a blend of beneficial microbes. Bio-tone biologically enhances this  natural plant food to ensure superior plant growth. Garden-tone is a granular fertilizer that you will sprinkle in your soil. Always follow package directions.

Carrots framedAn additional application of fertilizer will get your baby veggies off to a booming start. To encourage early growth, you’ll want to apply an application of liquid fertilizer when planting. We use Natures Source, endorsed by world renown horticulturist Dr. Allan Armitage, or Miracle-Gro.

Vegetables gardens can strip the soil of fertility and should have a maintenance fertilizer applied every year.

 

 

Planting and Care

Plant you vegetables in sites that get around 6 hours of sun a day. Mulch around the plants with compost, a thin layer of grass clippings, leaf mold or straw.

After planting apply an application of liquid fertilizer, this will get your baby veggies off to a booming start. We use Natures Source or Miracle-Gro.

Keep your vegetable plants well watered, giving them 1-2″ of water per week. The hotter the weather, the more water the vegetables need. For best results water deeply which encourages the roots to grow deep. Frequent, shallow watering results in roots growing only at the surface of the soil, allowing the plants to dry out easily.