The Garden Patch: Winter’s officially here, how long till spring?

This week our main interest is … HOW LONG TILL SPRING? Well, if your garden is tilled, there are no weeds in it, your plans are complete as to what to plant and where to plant it come spring, then relax and enjoy this holiday season! The only thing between you and spring gardening are those few (?) extra pounds the holidays forced you to acquire and a few degrees of temperature on the thermometer. So … let’s start planning!

Parsley

parsleyParsley is an easy-to-grow vegetable that is commonly used as a garnish – but – it can make a blah plate look lavishing and tasty! However, don’t overlook the nutritional value of this plant as you use it as a salad green, in many recipes, or simply added to soups, stews and sauces. It can easily be grown in containers indoors for fresh use during the winter.

Varieties. Curled leaf types include Banquet, Deep Green, Forest Green, Moss Curled, Minicurl, Perfection and triple curled. Italian parsley is not curled; it has a flat leaf. Some varieties can be grown for a large, fleshy root which has a strong parsley flavor.

When to plant. Parsley is a cool weather plant that can be sown in mid-April (about the same time as beets or carrots or in early August for a fall crop).

Spacing. Parsley seed is small and needs a fine seedbed because planting depth is ¼ inch deep or less. Use fresh seed every year. Plants should 1 to 2 inches apart as the plant is fairly small and the rows can be 6 to 12 inches apart. You can also grow parsley in a bed or mass planting in a small area especially in an herb garden outside the back door where the plants are handy to use.

Care. Parsley grows quickly and is best during cool periods. The plant is shallow rooted and requires regular watering and fertilization for best results.

Harvesting. Clip or break off individual leaves when they are full-sized. Wash leaves and store them in a plastic bag in a refrigerator for up to two weeks. Parsley can be dried for later use or the leaves can be easily frozen. Freeze leaflets on a cookie sheet so they can be separated for later use.

Common concerns. Aphids.

Parsnip

parsnipsParsnip is a hardy, cool-season crop that is grown for its white, carrot like root. Roots are most flavorful when dug late in the season as sugars accumulate in the root.

Varieties. Hollow Crown, Model and All American are common varieties.

When to plant. Sow seeds in early to mid-April as beets or carrots are planted. Using fresh seed is important!

Spacing. Plant seeds ½ inch deep with 3 to 4 inches between plants. Rows may be 15 inches apart. Seed may be slow to germinate so be patient and wait for the plant to emerge. Avoid heavy watering that would create a crust and interfere with good germination OR sprinkle some peat moss or sand over the row to prevent crusting.

Care. Parsnips need care similar to that for beets or carrots. Prevent weed competition and water during stressful periods. Allow the crop to stand until late fall or early winter before digging.

Harvest. Dig the roots in late November or early December before the ground starts to freeze.

Common concerns. Very few have ever been reported.

Peas

peasPeas are one of the most cold-tolerant plants grown in Kansas gardens. They can be planted about as early as soil can be prepared in the spring. Most varieties produce pods and the seeds need to be shelled. Several newer varieties produce thick, fleshy pods and the pods as well as the seeds may be eaten. In addition, some thin-podded oriental types produce such tender pods that only the pods are used. Southern peas or cowpeas are and entirely different crop and are grown in a manner similar to beans.

Varieties. Standard varieties include Little Marvel, Green Arrow, Frosty, Knight, Sparkle and Burpeeana. Edible-podded types include Sugar Ann, Sugar Bon and Sugar Snap. Oriental thin-podded types, often called snow peas, include Dwarf Grey Sugar and Mammoth Sugar.

When to plant. Plant seed in early to mid-March when soil is dry enough to work. Peas will germinate when soil conditions are favorable. Peas are NOT well adapted for fall gardens because the seed fails to germinate in warm soil.

Spacing. Plant seeds 2 to 4 inches apart with rows 12 inches apart. Peas usually do best where two to three rows can be planted 4 to 6 inches apart to allow the week, spindly vines to support each other. On a personal note – I use chicken wire beside the row to give the peas something to climb on and have had very good results with this method.

Care. Peas prefer cool soil and need water during stress periods. They grow best in a moderate- to well-fertilized soil. As mentioned above, a trellis may be needed to support the flimsy vines; short wire mesh or string trellis works well.

Harvesting. When the pods are swollen so that the seeds inside are full sized yet tender, pick and shell the seeds from the pods. Edible-podded types should be picked and used immediately after harvest as they tend to dry out readily. Harvest oriental types when the pods are crisp and tender but before the seeds begin to enlarge significantly. Store in a refrigerator in a plastic bag for up to a week. Peas are easily frozen for later use.

Common concerns. Root rots and mildew.

Well, friends and fellow gardeners, that’s it for another week! I hope you enjoy reading these little weekly garden memos as much as I enjoy producing them for you! Well, one good thing about winter – the freeze/thaw cycles help take some of the work out of spring and help prepare your garden site for the next planting ritual! Oh, and don’t forget to utilize all those leaves that have fallen and are cluttering up your lawn. They must be chopped before using so they’ll break down and add tilth to your soil. They are wonderful garden amendments and are CHEAP. Till next week!


stevehallerSteve Haller, of Osage City, a K-State Research and Extension Master Gardener, writes The Garden Patch featuring gardening ideas and tips for gardeners in northeast Kansas. In his words: “I am not a horticulturist. By education I am an economist. By experience, I am a marketing guru from a local to an international scale. Gardening was taught to me by my grandfather and my Mom, and I’ve been doing it since World War II was going on.”

Steve can be contacted at [email protected], or leave questions or comments below.


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