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Got a taste for spring vegetables? Plant in late winter

PETERSBURG—To have a garden full of fresh, delicious spring vegetables, you need to start planting in late February.

“Before you start your garden, it’s important to get a soil test,” said Chris Mullins, a fruit and vegetable specialist for Virginia Cooperative Extension at Virginia State University. “When we planted our spring garden at VSU, we sent a soil sample to the soil test lab at Virginia Tech for a home garden soil test.”

The soil test report will provide the pH level of the soil and give recommendations for fertilizer. The pH level will help determine whether the soil needs amending.

Spring crops include asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, onions and potatoes.

For asparagus, dig trenches that are 6 inches deep. Lay the asparagus crowns down 12 inches apart in the trenches, and cover them with a full 6 inches of soil. The asparagus will grow into 3-foot ferns.

“You can’t harvest asparagus the first year, but the next year you can harvest a little bit,” Mullins said. “By the third, fourth, fifth year and beyond, you can harvest the spears in mid-April through mid-May.”

For broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and similar crops, it’s easy to work with transplants. Space the plants 18 inches apart in a row. Put soil around the base of each plant, and add 8 ounces of water to each one.

Potatoes should be started from seed potatoes. Cut the seed potato into several pieces, making sure each piece has at least one obvious eye. The plant will grow up from the eye, Mullins said.

The potato pieces should be buried 2 to 3 inches deep and 12 inches apart in a trench.

“Some people like to grow potatoes raised up in a hill, and you can do that or put them flat in a row,” Mullins said. “The important thing is that the sun doesn’t touch them, so you’ll want to put more soil on top as they grow. If the sun reaches the potato, it will turn green.”

Peas also make a good spring crop, but they should be planted by St. Patrick’s Day.

“You can keep planting peas until mid-April, or you could plant them in late August for a fall crop. They need to be planted earlier so they’ll come up. In the summer you won’t have any good luck,” Mullins said.

The sugar snap pea doesn’t need to be trellised and can be planted in a shallow furrow, 1 inch apart.

Onions should be planted 4 inches apart and do not need to be planted deep. Just set them in the soil, press down and the roots will grow and prosper, Mullins said.

Media: Contact Sara Owens, VFBF communications, at 804-290-1133.
Posted in: Gardening

 

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