Outdoor Planting Has Begun – Finally!

Here in south central PA we’re still waiting for spring to arrive fully but it’s clear that we’ve turned the corner. While it’s still chilly, hyacinths and daffodils are blossoming and some of the tree buds are starting to open.

I was able to till the garden this week and plant some vegetables. Seeds of radish, beet, arugula, lettuce and spinach are in the ground. I also transplanted the onions that have been growing in the house since the beginning of February.

Onion Seedlings

Onion Seedlings Ready to be Planted

Before planting the onions, I’d putting the pot of seedlings outside during the day for about a week to harden off the plants. Hardening off allows the weak and tender indoor plants to toughen up a little. Exposing them to the outdoor breeze encourages the cell walls of the plant to become stronger. The sunlight causes the plant to build up a thicker layer of waxy cuticle on the leaves, protecting them from the full strength of the sun.

The onions were small when I planted them but I’ve learned over the years that onions are tough plants. They look frail but nothing could be further from the truth. In a couple of weeks they’ll have settled into their new environment and will be growing well. They’re also in a raised bed enclosed with chicken wire so the rabbits won’t be able to get to them.

Pre-Germinated Peas

Pre-Germinated Peas

The other seeds that I’m ready to sow are peas. While you can plant the seeds directly into the soil, I’ve found that germination can sometimes be a problem. To solve this, I pre-germinate the seeds. All I do is put some seeds on a wet piece of paper towel and allow them to start to germinate in the house. After 3-5 days you can see the first root (the radicle) emerging from the seed. Once this has happened, I dust the seeds with some Rhizobium inoculant (a post about this will be coming soon) and plant them in the garden. When I put the seeds into the furrow, I try not to damage the radicle and I make sure to water them right after planting.

If I was growing a lot of peas I certainly wouldn’t bother with pre-germination. But since I only plant a 5′ row of pole snap peas, it’s not too much extra work.

As I was planting the onion seedlings, I realized how good it feels to start another growing season. Who knows what this growing season will bring? But whatever’s in store, I’m ready. It’s time to start growing!


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