Originally published in Between the Rows
This month at the MGNV’s demonstration Organic Vegetable Garden, we’re harvesting crops that we planted last fall: lettuce, arugula, kale, and mustard.
We’ve finished planting the first round of root crops. Once again we’ve planted the old stand-by Detroit Dark Red beet, which has produced quite well for us, as has Bolder, which is a wonderful yellow beet. Chioggia beets are a bit more demanding, but very beautiful.
We have also planted day-neutral (intermediate) onion starts, which we have found work better in our Zone 7a. We harvest them as spring onions for a quick crop that is appreciated by food bank clients. Onions are divided into long-day, short-day, and intermediate types. Although soil temperature and fertility are also important, how much sunlight there is determines when the onion plants stop leaf growth and start bulb growth.
Although we plant different varieties of carrots, we are mindful that children harvesting them, which they love to do, are quite perplexed and disappointed when the carrots aren’t orange!
One of our main tasks this month is turning under the cover crops so the beds will be ready for planting the warm-weather crops in May and even into June. We grow cover crops to incorporate organic material into the soil, and cover crop legumes also set nitrogen. The sequence below is of a bed that we planted with cover crops last fall and that we just turned over in April. We’ll wait about 3 weeks to plant this bed to allow the organic material to decompose.
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One crop that we have not had good luck with is peas, specifically sugar snap peas. This year we probably planted too early trying to beat the late spring heat, which peas really do not like. We are considering whether it is too late to replant.
See you in the garden!
Visit the Organic Vegetable Garden!
One of the best ways to learn about vegetable gardening is to see long established gardens in action. Make time this year to visit the Organic Vegetable Garden in north Arlington at Potomac Overlook Regional Park, one of the seven demonstration gardens operated by Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia.