You’ve probably made a salad before, but have you ever really made a salad, from start to finish, seed to sprout? Gardening experts say it’s not all that hard to grow a variety of produce right here in New Hampshire, right in your backyard.
Tracy Morley, who runs the Teaching Garden with UNH Cooperative Extension at the NH Audubon Massabesic Center, and Gary Dallas-Koziol, vice president of the Nashua Garden Club, share some tips on which veggies you can grow and when you should plant them.
Timing is Everything
Morley said the most important thing is to pay attention to vegetable varieties.
“If you want things to coincide, you need to pay attention to maturity time,” she said. “Look for a variety of a shorter maturity date.”
“Broccoli tends to like the cooler climate in the spring. You can try planting broccoli rabe, which has smaller heads, which will be quicker to grow,” Morley said.
To have freshly picked broccoli in July, plant seeds in the first week of May.
“Carrots of the shorter variety, like baby cakes, if planted in mid to late April, will grow in July,” Morley said. “You can plant carrots in succession so they mature at different stages, so you will get them throughout the summer.”
According to Morley, carrots can be very easy to grow but you need to remember “to thin them, and space them out so they have plenty of room in the soil.”
There are a lot of varieties of lettuce, according to Morley and Dallas-Koziol. Depending on the type of lettuce you choose, you can start planting in April and May.
Dallas-Koziol said that lettuce tends to like cooler weather for growing, which is why you can plant it now.
Morley said that lettuce seeds can be planted in succession so that they sprout every couple of weeks throughout their season through July.
“Lettuce tends to bolt quickly and produce from their seeds faster,” Morley said.
The season for peas is earlier than other vegetables.’ By July, Morley said, they are usually done.
“[Peas] run from mid-April to June. They like cooler weather; you can plant them again in late August for the fall. You can have two crops of them.”
Peas can still be planted in late April and early May to be ready throughout June and the first week or two in July.
Spinach can also be treated like carrots or lettuce, planted in succession, said Morley. She said it’s very easy to plant spinach.
You can start planting spinach in mid-to-late April and May.
The average maturity dates for cucumbers are in July and August.
“Cucumbers do well in really warm weather; you can plant those seeds in the first week of June and they keep on growing,” Morley said.
“Peppers love hot weather, and the green ones will sprout by late July, early August. Red and yellow peppers are more toward the end of the season by the time they turn ripe,” Morley said. “If you want to grow red peppers, it’s easier to grow them in a greenhouse.”
“Radishes are awesome, they mature in 25 to 35 days, and that’s a really short time. There are so many varieties to choose from. They’re colorful and they’re fun to have.”
Radishes can be planted by the end of May and be ready the the second week of June. Dallas-Koziol also noted that radishes are easy to grow and the fastest of all veggies.
Plant Based On Variety
“Onions are tough to grow here because they have a 105-day maturation period, and that’s over 3 months. Our growing cycle in New Hampshire is much shorter than that; you’re not going to have onions in July, you’re going to have them in October,” Morley said.
She did note that spring onions might be easier to grow than regular onions.
“[Spring onions] grow fairly quickly and they’re nice in a salad,” she said.
Spring onions often sprout by August.
“If you want to plant tomatoes, you need to pick those of the early variety if you want to have them by July.”
Morley noted that Fourth of July, Early Girl and Cherry tomatoes are all good choices to plant.
Other common tomatoes are usually ready by August. Dallas-Koziol noted that there is a type of red plastic that can be placed on top of tomatoes that will help them ripen faster.
As seen in the April 17, 2014 issue of the Hippo.