April 29, 2010 at 8:59 a.m.

It's time to transplant, plant, and harvest

It's time to transplant, plant, and harvest
It's time to transplant, plant, and harvest

Farmers may argue that getting the crops in during the fall is their busy season, but for gardeners, this is our busy season. Evidence of this is the last weekend of April. Chisago Soil and Water Conservation will distribute more than 60,000 trees and shrubs to be planted as soon as possible. The same weekend the Chisago County Master Gardeners will distribute bare root fruits and vegetables for planting. Since most plants that need to be moved or transplanted do best in early spring, this warmer than usual weather has been ideal.

The weather person said that this could be the warmest April on record so one would think that this would help gardeners be ahead of last spring. However, looking back at my records I am within a day or two of last spring. By the end of April my first crop of peas, spinach, lettuce, table onions, beets, carrots, and other vegetables that can take a frost will be up.

I planted my Norland Red early potatoes about the same time as last year and expect to eat potatoes and creamed peas by the fourth of July. There is no hurry to plant late potatoes until the middle or end of May. These are the potatoes that you leave in the ground as long as you can so the skins will become firm for baking and storing.

By the end of April the cole crops can be planted. This includes broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage. While it is true that cole crops do best with daytime temperatures between 70 and 80 degrees, the young seedlings don't tolerate heavy frost. If the soil is warm storage onions like the ones we sell (Candy, Copra, and Spanish Yellow) can also be planted.

There is no hurry to plant peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, melons, and squash. I use the rule of thumb the old-timers used by not planting any of these mentioned above until the true Memorial Day, which is May 30. Last year I set out 50 tomato plants and almost 100 pepper plants June 1. The night of June 2 we had a hard frost, and I lost about 15 tomato plants and it stunted about the same number of pepper plants. However, that was last year and that's me. If you have a more protected area you may have better luck.

I picked my first asparagus April 15, which was about a week earlier than last year. Some of the stalks were limp because of a hard freeze a week before. As long as I cut them off and discarded them, there is no ill effect on the plants. The rhubarb is maturing about the same as last year and should be ready to harvest by the end of April.

If you have any questions about plant orders or their distribution, call the Extension Office at 651-213-8901.


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