Every year, on St. Patrick Day, while scores are watching parades or indulging in their favorite activity, I begin my spring planting. It’s my yearly ritual embraced for a long time to make sure that I start on schedule and harvest my three crops during the growing season, other than my winter cold frame goodies. People often ask why start so early, and if you’re a gardener, you know exactly why I do it. Once the garden gets ahead of you, catching up is next to impossible.
I already had turned over my winter rye two weeks beforehand and fertilized it at the same time, however, spot fertilization is very important, and one needs to implement it to grow healthy plants and a bumper crop. Plan ahead. Perhaps during the previous fall is the best time to start figuring out where to plant your spring crop and make sure the pH level in your soil is adjusted so the particular crop can extract the necessary nutrients. When the pH is right for the crop that you’re growing in that particular spot, it will greatly increase your chances of mastering your garden; test it yourself or send a sample to your nearest County Extension Service. For instance, if you need lime to raise the pH, first you must know which lime to use, calcitic or dolomitic, and it depends on what nutrients your soil is lacking. Calcitic lime has about 40% calcium and very little magnesium, whereas dolomitic lime has 11% magnesium and 21% calcium, and when planting a crop that needs great amounts of calcium, you must know which to use. In case you need to lower the pH there are two options. You can use sulfur or aluminum sulfate, depending on the time table. Sulfur will render the same benefits but needs more time to be effective than aluminum sulfate.
All my cold weather crops have already germinated and are doing well, although tonight we may need to cover them up – and we all thought that summer had arrived.
My apricots and peach trees are in bloom and I’m on my way out to spray them.
Nick Mancini, The Organic Italian