On your mark, get set ... PLANT!

March may sound early for gardening, but greens and peas love the cool weather. And since this may be our only cool weather, if spring is more like summer, let’s choose our seeds, prepare the soil and get to it!

Grow bags, large pots or raised beds placed in full sun will yield beautiful early greens that are easily accessible.

For a tasty and nutritional treat, try a mix of at least four from this list: spinach, kale, swiss chard, romaine, collards, arugula, mustard greens, lettuces and cabbages. There are also seed packets of “mixed greens,” which usually list their particular varieties if you read the fine print. 

Think about the greens you purchase most often, or the most expensive ones you buy and go with those, or try a new one you’ve been curious about.

Sprinkle your chosen seeds on top of the primed soil according to package directions. (Plant cabbages in a separate area from greens as cabbage are best picked as “babies.”

Add just enough additional soil to just cover the seeds. Pat down. Keeping the soil continually moist, not soggy, is the key to quick sprouting. The quality of the soil and seeds you’ve chosen will make a difference as well. 

Watering is somewhat subjective by experience. No experience? Don’t worry. One can actually become “tuned in” to the needs of plants by checking on them regularly. 

However, as with humans, by the time you see “thirst,” the plant will already be stressed. So as a rule of thumb, try a light sprinkling every morning (as with a watering can) and a deeper watering once a week, depending upon natural rainfall.

By the time leafy greens are two inches or taller, they are ready to eat. If you hold onto the plant base and tear the leaves rather than pull the whole plant, more will grow. 

When the weather becomes hot, let the plants “bolt,” that is, flower. These flowers are edible but the leaves themselves will probably taste bitter.

You may harvest the seed pods for next spring’s crop. Then pull up the dried plants, work a little new soil into the old and plant again in mid-September. This “race” won’t be over until there is a hard freeze!

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