If you haven’t planted your garden, now is definitely the time to get growing.
Remember to plant your seeds — such as carrots, beets and lettuce — fairly shallow. The depth of the seed bed that is required for root vegetables should be fairly deep (eight to 10″) for the development of the vegetable, but the actual seeds should be planted shallow at roughly one half inch.
Your aim is for the seeds to germinate and poke through the soil quickly. If they get planted too deep, the soil will be cooler and germination will take forever. Well, almost.
A tip regarding the seeding strips now available for some garden vegetables such as carrots is to make sure the strips are moist and that the soil is warm. A layer of plastic mulch may be necessary to warm up the soil. Then, as soon as the seeds emerge, either cut the plastic wide enough so the seedlings can grow up through the plastic or take the plastic off.
Potatoes, too, benefit from a shallower planting. As the plant grows, hill the soil. This is especially true if you have a greater concentration of clay soil.
Our first year of gardening in the Yukon, we planted potatoes six to seven inches deep. We did not cut the potatoes; we just planted the whole potato. As I recall, it wasn’t a particularly warm summer that year, but come fall when we dug the potatoes they were as firm as the day we planted them and we didn’t get very many potatoes.
It was as though by planting so deep the potatoes were in “cold storage” all summer long.
Potatoes should be planted two to three inches deep; the tubers should be cut in quarters so each piece has one or more eye. They can also be pre-sprouted by exposure to light before planting, saving you at least a week of growing time.
With the warmer weather, the plants in your greenhouse should be growing by leaps and bounds.
Make sure the plants have adequate moisture and plenty of ventilation during hot weather. Don’t forget to open greenhouse doors and vents before going to work in the morning. Misting, along with normal root watering, is one way to cool plants down if the greenhouse is excessively hot.
The plants will absorb the moisture through the leaves as well as the roots. It is always hard to make a general statement regarding how much to water because it depends on the soil structure, whether the plants are grown in containers, in a bench or in the ground. A good rule of thumb is to apply enough water so that 10 per cent of the water comes out the bottom of the bench or container.
Keep in mind that the recommended temperatures of all greenhouse crops are 18°C. Within certain limits we can go higher in the daytime and lower at night as long as we average 18°C.
An ideal range to strife for would be 14°C at night 26 to 27°C during the day. Keep in mind, however, natural sun movements will cause high and lows to be maintained for only an hour or two.
You will discover that proper greenhouse temperature control will produce amazing results.
Ingrid Wilcox operates Lubbock Garden and Floral Consultant and offers gardening, greenhouse and flower arranging workshops. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.