Vegetable growing time is upon us

By Gregg Eyestone

My rhubarb plantings are showing signs of spring growth. The asparagus patch has been cleaned up. Broccoli plants are growing in my basement. St. Patrick’s Day is the unofficial start to the vegetable gardening season. Join myself and a few Master Gardener on Saturday, March 25 for a program on vegetable gardening. We will begin at 9 am in the Clover Room of Pottorf Hall in CiCo Park. The Winter Farmers’ Market will be open in the large room. This next week, salad gardens will be planted by elementary students across Riley County. The Master Gardeners and I assist with several schools. Each student plants seeds of lettuce, spinach, radish and onion sets. These crops will grow through the rest of the school year with a harvest at the end.

Leaf lettuce is planted in these gardens. Head lettuce takes longer and can be challenging as the season gets warmer. There is a large number of leaf lettuce with different colors, textures and flavors.

Lettuce seeds need light to germinate. It is sprinkled along the soil and watered to get started. Spinach has many vitamins and minerals that are good for our nutrition. There are several leaf shapes and textures to use in a salad. The smooth leaves are the easiest to clean.

The spinach seed is larger than the lettuce and is planted a half inch deep. Spacing between spinach seeds and lettuce is 2-3 inches.

Radish adds crunch, color and flavor to the salad. The seeds are planted a half inch deep like the spinach. They need about 2 inches apart to allow for the root to develop.

Careful spacing at planting or thinning is required. We use a variety of colored radishes in the school gardens.Onion sets are used for quick growth. Sets are used mainly for green onions. These small onions are chopped
up and added for flavor. These flavorful bulbs are an excellent source of healthful chemicals of vitamin C, flavonoids, antioxidants, and sulfur compounds.

Join with the youth in planting your own garden.

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