Vegetable growing time approaches

By Gregg Eyestone

St. Patrick’s Day is the unofficial start of the growing season. Soil temperatures around then typically have warmed enough to start planting some cool-season vegetables. Some transplant flowers and dormant perennials can go in the ground as well.

Taking the soils temperature is the surest way to know when to plant. A thermometer is put in the soil around 10:30 a.m. The tip of the thermometer is at least 2 inches into the soil. This reading is close to the average daily soil temperature. Seeds are planted after several days of the preferred soil temperature. Affordable thermometers are available from automotive stores using a thermometer which is used to measure air conditioning temperatures.

Even if the temperature is correct, you may not be able to plant. Too wet of soil can be a situation in the spring. Soil that forms a ball is too wet. Ideally, the soil should crumble at planting. Seedlings will struggle to grow in soil that is too wet. Compacted soil is the result of working wet soil.

Raised beds generally dry out quicker than traditional fields. Seed can be planted on top of the ground and covered with potting soil when the soil is wet but needs to be planted. Mulched aisles or planks can aid in getting into the garden site.

Peas, onions, radishes, lettuce, spinach are some seeds to plant in March. Soil temperature should be at least 45 degrees for germination. Irish potatoes, rhubarb and asparagus are planted from stored plant parts. They can be planted when the soil is workable.

The Kansas Garden Guide is a great reference on vegetable gardening. It is available from our office for $5. You can get it off the K-State Research and Extension website at Another publication to have is the “Vegetable Garden Planting Guide.”

Get your peas and onions planted now. They are the only seeded crops that can’t be produce in the fall. Most vegetables will work in containers as another planting option. Hopefully, you can get some cool-season vegetables growing this spring.

You can find out more information on this and other horticulture topics by going to the Riley County, K-State Research and Extension website at Gregg may be contacted by calling 785-537-6350 or stopping by 110 Courthouse Plaza in Manhattan or e-mail:

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