News from the Reference Desk Category: Gardening

Asparagus!

asparagus on a wooden cutting boardAsparagus is one of the earliest spring perennial vegetables–after it is established in the garden, it will yield edible spears year-after-year.

Now is a good time to plant asparagus crowns.asparagus crowns

Asparagus should be planted in a location with lots of sun in fertile well-drained soil. Asparagus needs to mature up to 3 years before spears can be harvested regularly.

Once established, asparagus will produce spears for up to 8 weeks starting in April. A bed of asparagus, if well-tended, can last 20-30 years!

Unfurling asparagus spear: Unfurling asparagus spearThese asparagus spears have been grown from asparagus crowns planted on April 1, 2017. This is the first year they will be harvested:asparagus spears popping out of the ground

For a selection of current magazines related to vegetable gardening (or any subject you can imagine!) check out our offerings from RB Digital.  You will need your current MPPL Library card number and PIN–then follow the instructions to get started.

If you need assistance with access or other questions, please contact us via Live Chat: bit.ly/MPPLlivechat; email: info@mppl.org; or phone: 847-253-5675 and leave a message–we’ll call you back.

 

Kale and Lettuce Seedlings

Kale, lettuce and other greens can be started inside and, for some, a preferred method of planting these cool weather vegetables as opposed to direct seeding outside.

kale seedsPlanting these smaller seeds in a controlled environment is the best method to ensure strong seedlings. Direct seeded vegetables, especially cool weather ones, have more unreliable germination rates due to variable weather conditions and animals, i.e. birds and squirrels. But starting seeds inside is more labor intensive as containers need to be filled with growing medium, seeds need to be planted, seedlings need to be thinned/transplanted and hardened off before planting outside in the garden. With direct seeding, you plant the seeds and then wait and hope you get some germination.

kale and lettuceThese kale and lettuce seedlings under grow lights were started about March 27 and have just been transplanted to larger containers. When temperatures start staying in the 40’s at night, they will go outside to be hardened off and acclimated to the outside conditions. After about a week or so they can be planted in the garden.

For a selection of current magazines related to vegetable gardening (or any subject you can imagine!) check out our offerings from RB Digital.  You will need your current MPPL Library card number and PIN–then follow the instructions to get started.

If you need assistance with access or other questions, please contact us via Live Chat: bit.ly/MPPLlivechat; email: info@mppl.org; or phone: 847-253-5675 and leave a message–we’ll call you back.

Snow Peas and Radishes

Living here in the Midwest, an April day can be sunny and warm or cloudy and snowy–we have experienced lots of extremes in the past few weeks!

But regardless of what’s going on outside, you can start to get cool weather vegetable seeds in the ground. snow peasSnow peas, radishes, greens, and lettuce can all be seeded now. If the temperatures remain cool, germination will take longer but the cooler temps will not harm the seeds. And what do you have to lose? A few seeds and some of your time–you can always replant later.

These germinating snow peas were planted on April 3: snow pea seedlings

The snow peas will be ready to harvest by early June.

And these radish seedlings were planted on April  5:radish seedlings

The radishes will be ready to eat in mid/late May.

The sooner you get planting, the sooner you will have the most locally grown produce possible!

For more information, please log in to the Web Resources page (MPPL card number and PIN required) and access Article Finder. There, you can search for current how-to gardening articles (try using the terms: “cool weather vegetables,” “sowing” or “vegetable gardening”).

If you need assistance with access or other questions, please use our Live Chat service or email: info@mppl.org

Last Call for Starting Tomato Plants

cherry tomatoes and basil leavesThere’s still time to start your warm weather vegetables for this season: tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, basil–they all need a head start before planting out in the garden. Seeds need to be planted in the next few days/week to be strong/big enough to set out in the garden by the mid/end of May. For detailed instructions, see: Starting Plants from Seed for the Home Gardener.

red solo cupAn easy way to get started is to use plastic cups (16 oz work well) with drainage holes cut in the bottom with a knife or scissors. Almost any small clean container can be used, as long as it has a drainage hole for excess water. For more info, see: Containers and Growing Medium for Seed Starting.

Start by saturating your growing medium (potting soil or seed germination mix).
Fill the cups with the saturated medium.
Place the filled cups on a tray to keep water contained.
Plant 2-3 seeds per cup (follow directions on the packet for seed depth).
Place the cups in a sunny window and keep moist.
Thin to one seedling per cup (after they get their true leaves) and keep them growing inside until danger of frost has passed, about May 15 in the northwest suburbs.

tomato seedlingsThe tomato seedlings in the photo were planted on April 1, 2020.
They are just starting to germinate and do not yet have their true leaves, only their cotyledons.

For more information, please log in to the Web Resources page (MPPL card number and PIN required) and access Article Finder. There, you can search for current how-to gardening articles (try using the terms: “seed starting,” “sowing” or “vegetable gardening”).

If you need assistance with access or other questions, please use our Live Chat service or email: info@mppl.org

Time to Start Vegetable Gardening

Page 3 | royalty free plant nursery photos free download | PiqselsNow that we are past the Vernal equinox, the sun is stronger and it’s time to start planting/planning for the 2020 growing season.
If you have pepper, tomato, eggplant or basil seeds, you should be starting them now to transplant outside in 6-8 weeks.
Plant them in small containers/flats, a few seeds in each container/cell filled with potting soil or seed germination mix.
Put them in a sunny, warm spot (or under lights on a heat mat), keep them moist and wait for them to germinate.
After the seedlings sprout their first true leaves, transplant/thin them to one seedling per container/cell.

Lettuce, peas, kale, chard/beets, carrots and other cold weather vegetables can start to be planted in outdoor beds. A low tunnel can expedite germination and keep insects from your seedlings.

For more information, please log in to the Web Resources page (MPPL card number and PIN required) and access Article Finder. There, you can search for current how-to gardening articles (try using the terms: “seed starting,” “low tunnels” or even “vegetable gardening”).

If you need assistance with access or other questions, please use our Live Chat service or email: info@mppl.org