Starting your vegetable garden

changingitup(8 PDX)March 10, 2014

Just made an area in a south window to grow some starts. Doing broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant and sweet peppers for now. Hoping to put the broccoli and cauli in the ground soon to get a spring, early summer harvest. Same as peas, turnips, beets and greens only I was hoping I could put those directly in the ground soon, if not now? Or should I start them indoors? From what I can tell last frost can be anywhere from mid march to mid April in Portland. Any local gardeners want to share their early season plans to help this newbie out?

I do have a fall broccoli out there that didn't shrivel through the winter, but it didn't grow either. 3 turnips also made it and my kale is a trooper! I love all of these cool season veggies and am hopeful to get a crop in before it gets too hot.

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The main factor here for late winter and spring vegetable planting is the soil temperature rather than the air temperature that is unlikely to cause a killing freeze from here on out, unless you are in a very rural setting.

The cool-weather and root vegetables can probably be started (keep you outdoor soil well turned and loose in the meantime), but the eggplant and peppers need to wait for many weeks. The trick on those is to start them in large enough pots so they can grow indoors until mid-may (or longer) before planting out. Plan on having those starts up to a foot tall in 6" pots with bloom buds forming, and they will have a good chance of setting a crop outside in July/August. When these are placed out small and early, they languish.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 10:59PM
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changingitup(8 PDX)

I didn't even think to put my peppers and eggplants in larger pots, I'll need to pick some up as I gave all of mine away in a moment of purging, shoot! Do you suggest I pick up a soil thermometer too?

When would you move the broc and cauli out? Or is it when the soil tests around 50 degrees? Would you direct sow peas, beets and greens now or later or start them in doors and move them out later?


    Bookmark   March 11, 2014 at 5:03PM
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You can of course transplant tiny stuff from small to larger pots, but growth can then be sluggish for a week or two. We've never used a soil thermometer--I suspect the readings would be disappointing until 1 July and discourage doing anything!

Of course the soil will hit 50 well before then. The cold crops should do fine by April; March has been mild so far but soil warming depends more on higher sun angle and loose soil than on a few days near 60 degrees.

We have had luck with beets planted outdoors as seed after mid-april. The trick to vegetable seed gardening mid-April through May is to keep the seed bed damp during sunny days, sprinkling twice daily.

If you put plants out when too tiny, slugs and nesting birds tend to mangle them. Row cover material can be helpful.

Don't forget to gradually, over a week, introduce young plants to direct sun. Planting them out in some odd late April 85-degree day will likely burn leaves and slow growth.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2014 at 11:30PM
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