Make a plan. If you have ever thought about growing vegetables, this is the time! We need to take some control of our food chain for the next few months, and there’s no better way than to grow some of our own. Start lining up your resources. Growing space? Lawn? compost? Soil? Containers? Do you have seeds from last year? Assess your situation and make a list of what you have, and from there figure out what you need. [Primex Garden Center carries items like Garden-tone fertilizer, bulk topsoil (70% mushroom compost 30% screened topsoil), Bumper Crop soil amendment, leaf compost, mushroom compost, cow manure, smart pots, Earth Boxes, raised beds, salt hay, and more!]
Learn the Rules of ASASCBW. Some seed packs say: can be planted AS SOON AS SOIL CAN BE WORKED. But how do you know if it’s workable? Take a handful of freshly dug soil and squeeze it in your hand to form a ball. Poke it gently with your finger and see if it flakes apart. If it stays in a ball, it’s too wet and you should check again in a few days – plant in containers while you wait. Or do some cleanup instead. Pick up sticks and everything that blew down over the winter. Rake up the flotsam & jetsam of the past season and get rid of it. But be sure to examine all the trash you collect to make sure it isn’t indicative of non-garden problems around the house, like loose flashing, renegade siding or flying shingles. If it does fall apart, you can start to think about digging.
Get some seeds in the ground. NOW. Best bets for immediately: peas, greens & root crops. Greens means lettuce, spinach, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, collards, kale, mustard, bok choy, arugula. Roots means carrots, turnips, beets, potatoes, rutabaga, radishes. Peas means peas. Last year’s seeds will do. You can still order online, but be patient – seed companies are getting slammed and running behind on deliveries. [Primex has plenty of seeds and starts on hand for home delivery – Seed packets, cool season starter vegetable plants, herb plants, and root crop starters (onions, potatoes, rhubarb, shallots,etc).]
Tend to your grapes. There’s still time to head off the Black Rot that so happily turns our grapes into inedible mummies here in PA. Caused by the fungus Guignardia bidwelli, it spreads exponentially by rain-splash from one leaf, branch or grape to another, so early care is crucial to heading it off. Clean up any old leaves and debris off the grapevines and the ground around them to remove sources of fungus, then spray with neem oil before the new leaves emerge, which Primex carries.
Make your lawn pretty. Right now everything looks like your hair after a rough night. Grass is just starting to grow, but the garlic grass (great in spaghetti sauce) and star-of-bethlehem (bad to eat in any form) are waaaay ahead of it. Distinguish between the two by smell. Then get out the mower, tune it up, and give it a spin, adjusting the blade to cut a half-inch or so above the level of the grass. [Primex is your go to for your lawn – Grass seed mixes, broad leafed weed controls (Weed beater Ultra, Spurge power, Pulverize (organic), and more), and crabgrass controls (Greenview Crabgrass Control with Dimension, various fertilizer with weed & crabgrass controls, Turf Builder Triple Action Control, Preen One, Proscape with Confront & Dimension, and more).]
Practice safe gardening. Wash your hands, maintain friendly distance, but don’t be afraid to share with your neighbors.
Sally McCabe is Assoc. Director of Community Education at PHS, and grows stuff at two community gardens and in her backyard. She has been a faithful Primex customer since all the way back when Pops (David’s grandfather) was still around.