by Cathy Bylinowski, M.S. Horticulture, Horticulture Instructor
University of Missouri Extension- Jackson County, MO
Spring is here. If you are interested in gardening outdoors, now is the time to start.
Cool Season Vegetables, those that thrive in cooler temperatures can be sown into moist, crumbly garden soil now. Follow the planting information on the seed packet or use the MU Extension Vegetable Planting Calendar for successful planting:
Arugula- A nutty flavored salad green when it is young and tender; as the plants get older and the temperatures start to rise, the leaves become spicy hot. They are still good for stir fry dishes.
Beets- Wait until temperatures are above freezing to plant. Thin seedlings to 1-2 inches apart.
Carrots- Plant carrots seeds as soon as garden soil is workable. Seedlings take two weeks to germinate. Thin to at least 1 inch apart.
Collards- Some gardeners prefer to purchase transplants of collards, but you can direct sow seeds in the spring. If you keep the pests off the collards, you should be able to harvest leaves until a hard freeze.
Kale- Improved Dwarf Siberian Kale, a hardy cold tolerant variety with curly leaves, is a nutritious crop that can be directly sown. The plants continue to produce edible leaves throughout the growing season. It is also a great fall crop.
Mustard Greens- Do you like mixed greens? If you do, mustard greens are an essential ingredient. There are broad leaf and curly leaf varieties. It loves cool spring or fall weather, but bolts (goes to seed) in warm weather.
Onions- During April, you can plant onion sets, which are small bulbs, or onion plants. Be sure to plant onion sets with the pointy end of the bulb up and the fuzzy root end in the soil. Plant 1-2 inches deep.
Potatoes- Plant seed potatoes as soon as possible this month. Plant quarters of larger seed potatoes with eyes (small indentations where sprouts will grow) or entire smaller seed potatoes, 3-5 inches deep in furrows and 1 foot apart. Some gardeners like to rake soil around the base of the potato plant to keep the tubers from turning green. You can harvest early potatoes and leave the green plant to continue growing. And, you can harvest potatoes after the plant has died back. Consult MU Publication Vegetable Planting Calendar and MG5- the Vegetable Gardening Chapter of the Missouri Master Gardener Core Manual for more information.
Radishes- Radishes are another cool season crop that should be planted as soon as possible this month. If planted and harvested too late, they will get too hot to eat. They also will start going to seed as soon as the weather warms up. Radishes can be planted in the fall, too.
This is a short list of spring vegetable crops. Seed catalogues, the MU Extension Vegetable Planting Calendar, and gardening friends are sources of information on more spring crop possibilities.
Cool Season Flowers-
Pansies and Violas- While it is too late to start these flowers from seed now, transplants of these lovely flowers can be purchased. Both will flower until early summer. The plants wither during summer heat. Careful watering, as well as shade from surrounding plants may allow pansies and violas to survive until fall when they might bloom again.
California Poppies- These small yellow and orange cool season annual flowers are easy to grow from seed. They are native to the western United States. They do well in full sun, poor soil and droughty conditions. If allowed to flower and go to seed, they can reseed themselves the following year.
Bachelor Buttons- These hardy, cool season annual flowers are also called corn flowers. They come in a range of colors from white to dark blue. The light blue varieties are perhaps best known. Seed for Bachelor Buttons can be planted now in prepared soil. They prefer full sun. They will flop over if planted in too much shade.
For more information about cool season vegetables or flowers, contact MU Extension Horticulture Instructor Cathy Bylinowski, firstname.lastname@example.org or Master Gardeners of Greater Kansas City Hotline at 816-833-TREE (8733).