Each year in early spring I think about my Great Uncle Dan Binford, who was a Quaker. He was from Haviland, Kansas where his parents helped establish both the Quaker Church and Friends Academy. A gentle giant of a man, I remember Uncle Dan in his bib overalls and straw hat working hours in his garden in West Wichita, close to the intersection of West and 2nd streets. Dan’s garden was his ‘man cave’, or place where he loved to occupy his spare time.
Many times gardening is all about timing, and Dan had his garden clock pretty much in sync. He always tried to plant his early spring vegetables, starting with early peas, on George Washington's birthday, February 22. I'm sure there were some years that weather prevented his seeds from getting into the ground. But it's true, the timing about now is great to get started planting early spring vegetables!
Here is a list of early spring vegetables that are cold tolerant:
Peas, beets, carrots, lettuce, onions - sets and plants, potatoes, swiss chard, spinach, asparagus, cole crops like cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and Brussels sprouts.
Before you plant, make sure you tune into the long range weather forecast to see what's in store for our region. There are many tools, such as frost blankets and early season extenders for transplants that can help keep cold temperatures from damaging our newly planted vegetable plants. Even spraying the transplants with water, and keeping them adequately watered will help in getting them established and help keep them protected from cold temperatures, as well.
Fertilizers, at time of establishment, will not only get plants off to a faster start, but will also increase production of fruits (yes, tomatoes, peppers, and squash are fruits) dramatically. Selecting a garden fertilizer is easy. As a general rule, use a high phosphorus fertilizer (the 2nd of the 3 numbers on the label), which encourages both roots and flower development. The ferti-lome Gardener's Special analysis is 11-15-11. This product has been a favorite fertilizer of Johnson's customers for decades. It is slow-release and will last for up to a month. ferti-lome Blooming and Rooting is fast acting and if it's used regularly, will keep vegetable plants 'blooming and rooting' all season long with its ultra high phosphorus feeding analysis of 9-58-8. Blooming and Rooting is a great water soluble fertilizer equally suited for both plants in the ground and container grown plants.
Uncle Dan's specialty was growing horseradish; he prepared it too! All of the proceeds from his pints of horseradish went to the Friends Church mission projects. I'm not sure if this was his exact recipe or not, but you might give it a try!
We have a lot of new and exciting things happening at Johnson's this spring starting with a brand new website that our marketing department has been working on for the last few months. I invite you to check it out at www.johnsonsgarden.com.
Also, don't forget Garden Reward Redemption is going on now through March 12. Stop by the store to spend the points you've been saving on supplies for spring gardening, a new houseplant or something you've had your eye on for months. We look forward to seeing you this spring!
Your friend in the garden,
Owner - Johnson's Garden Center