Cool Weather Vegetable Gardening

As winter fades away and spring makes its entrance gardeners with spring fever want to get started as soon as possible with some cool weather crops. While it is true that certain crops do like cool weather, they are still not immune to frost and freezing temperatures. Therefore if your last frost date has not yet passed, use caution or all your hard work may be for nothing. When the days are warm and the nights are still cool several crops find this atmosphere perfect for optimum growth.

Lettuce is a crop that prefers cool weather, especially when daytime temperatures don’t exceed 70F. Lettuce can be bought at local greenhouses, started from your own seeds indoors, or planted directly outside in the soil. Since lettuce seeds are so small many seed manufacturers have started selling the seeds in rolls. The seeds are evenly spaced on paper that will disintegrate, thus making spacing between plants perfect. Both Romaine lettuce and Head lettuce take up more space than loose leaf varieties, so this should be kept in mind when planting. If the weather becomes too hot it will have a tendency to taste bitter, and may bolt. It is a good idea to space out the time you plant your lettuce seeds, otherwise all your lettuce may be ready for picking at nearly the same time. Spinach is another vegetable that likes cool weather. It is very similar to lettuce, and thus the same advice should be adhered to. Keep in mind that rabbits love spinach so if they are a problem where you live, you must use a fence to keep them out of your garden.

Peas are another crop that loves cool weather. Generally you can get two harvests out of peas, one where you plant early in the spring, and another late in the summer, when temperatures have dropped. You can plant either peas that grow in a pod, or snap peas. Snap peas can be harvested when the peas are small or some people prefer when the peas in these have grown larger. Peas like soil that is rich in nitrogen. However the nitrogen in the soil needs to be converted into a form usable by plants. Therefore you can add helpful bacteria to the soil that will aid in nitrogen fixation. If you don’t want all your peas or snap peas coming ready at the same time, it is a good idea to space out planting to extend the time you can harvest your crop. Peas are a vining plant therefore you must either setup a fence for the peas to grow on or have some stakes setup with twine between the stakes. The peas tendrils will search for and grab for anything close. The fence you setup should be at least three to four feet high.

Carrots are another crop that prefers the cool weather. Carrots due however take a long time to germinate, as some varieties take up to two weeks to sprout. If you plant both carrots and dill make sure they are not located each other in the garden. They may cross pollinate, and result in a poor crop. To grow the best carrots make sure you soil is soft, and slightly sandy. If your soil is very hard, it is very difficult to get carrots to grow deep, and thus you will have short stubby carrots. Cauliflower, and Broccoli are two other vegetables that like cooler weather. It is best if they are harvested before the heat of the summer, as the plants have a tendency to wilt under hot temperatures.

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