SPRING PLANTING TIPS

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Beets

When: April 1-June 15.

How: Sow 1/2 to 1 inch deep, 1 or 2 inches apart.

Tips: Till soil deeply. Remove all rocks and stones before planting. Water daily until seedlings appear. Beets tolerate light shade. Thin seedlings to 3 inches apart. Harvest when 2 inches

in diameter.

Broccoli

When: April 1-May 1.

How: Space transplants 18 inches apart.

Tips: Likes neutral soil. Add crushed limestone, if needed. Plant broccoli 1 inch deeper than it was in the nursery pot. Protect seedlings from frost. Harvest side shoots after picking main head. Homemade cardboard collars placed around plants deter cutworms. Wood ashes repel flea beetles. Bacillus Thuringiensis an organic insecticide, stops cabbage loopers.

Bush Beans

When to plant: May 5-June 30.

How to plant: Sow 1 to 2 inches deep, 4 inches apart.

Tips: Make successive sowings two weeks apart, after all danger of frost. Avoid handling wet plants. Destroy Mexican bean beetles, which resemble brown ladybugs, and their yellow egg clusters beneath leaves. Don't plant beans near onions.

Cabbage

When: March 15-April 10.

How: Space transplants 1 foot apart.

Tips: Likes rich soil. Water regularly, but over-watering produces cracked heads. Savoy, with crinkled leaves, is a popular variety. Use BT against cabbage worms. Grow near potatoes, but not tomatoes.

Cantaloupes

When: May 15-June 15.

How: Sow 1 inch deep, 1 foot apart.

Tips: Heavy feeder. Water deeply during growing season. Harvest when stem slips easily off vine, and blossom end smells sweet. Likes corn and peas, but not potatoes.

Carrots

When: April 10-June 1.

How: Sow 1/2 inch deep, 1/2 inch apart.

Tips: Germinate poorly in hot weather. Keep seedbed moist. Till soil deeply, until fluffy. Grow short varieties in heavy soils. Thin seedlings to 2 inches apart. Don't plant near dill.

Cauliflower

When: April 1-May 1.

How: Space transplants 18 inches apart.

Tips: Can be hard to grow. A heavy feeder. Water regularly. Watch for cutworms and cabbage loopers, which can damage seedlings. When head appears, blanch it by tying the plant's outer leaves atop the head with string or rubber bands.

Celery

When: April 15-May 1.

How: Space transplants 8 inches apart.

Tips: Likes very rich soil and steady supply of moisture, especially during drought. Fertilize regularly. Have patience: Celery requires 6 months from seed to harvest. Pick outside stalks or entire plant.

Corn

When: April 1-June 1.

How: Sow 1 to 2 inches deep, 8 inches apart.

Tips: Plant only one variety to avoid pollination problems. Grow in square blocks (2-foot minimum), grouped closely together. Water regularly and fertilize with liquid fish emulsion when plants are 8 inches tall. Harvest when silk darkens and shrivels. Corn likes beans, cucumbers and peas. Raccoons like corn.

Cucumbers

When: May 15-July 1.

How: Sow 1 inch deep, 1 foot apart.

Tips: Heavy feeder, likes rotted manure. Cover with polyester row cover to foil cucumber beetle. Remove cover at start of flowering. Keep fruit picked so vines continue to bear. Avoid planting near herb bed.

Eggplant

When: May 20-June 15.

How: Space transplants 2 feet apart.

Tips: Cover tender seedlings on 40-degree nights, or wait until all danger of frost is past. Heavy feeder, finicky plant. Dust with wood ashes to repel flea beetles. Weed by hand; cultivating damages shallow roots. Grow near peppers, potatoes, tomatoes.

Kale

When: April 1-April 20.

How: Sow 1/2 inch deep, 8 inches apart.

Tips: Dislikes hot weather. Scotch variety more popular than Siberian. Harvest outer leaves when 4 to 6 inches long. For fall crop, sow four weeks before last frost.

Kohlrabi

When: April 1-May 10.

How: Sow 1/2 inch deep, 4 inches apart.

Tips: Make successive plantings two weeks apart in spring. Harvest bulb, which grows above-ground, when the size of a golf ball. Peel with knife.

Lettuce

When: April 1-June 1.

How: Sow 1/2 inch deep, thin to 8 inches apart.

Tips: Leaf or butterhead types preferred by most gardeners. Do not crowd seedlings. Harvest only a few leaves at a time; plants will renew themselves. Feed nitrogenous fertilizers such as bloodmeal and cottonseed meal. Provide shade for midsummer plantings. Grows well alongside carrots, cucumbers. Stale beer in shallow dish traps slugs.

Okra

When: May 10-June 1.

How: Sow 1/2 inch deep, 1 foot apart.

Tips: Plant in light, well-drained loam after all danger of frost, and soil temperature is at least 70 degrees. Thin plants to 18 inches apart. Harvest 3- to 4-inch pods daily, if necessary, to keep okra producing. Six plants is a good starter plot. Grow near tomatoes and beans.

Onions

When: March 15-April 15.

How: Plant sets, or bulbs, 1 inch deep, 1 inch apart.

Tips: Select smallest bulbs to plant. Thin green onions to 3 inches apart, eating them as scallions. Keep plot free of weeds, which can choke onions out. Cut off developing seed heads. Harvest main crop when foliage is dead, but leave brown tops intact. Best variety for storage is Stuttgarter. Onions dislike

peas, beans.

Peas

When: March 15-May 1.

How: Sow 2 inches deep, 2 inches apart.

Tips: Edible pods, like Sugar Snap, are best for small gardens. Plant in early spring, as soon as ground can be worked. Cover seedlings with polyester row cover to foil birds, rabbits. Most peas need support, or a fence. Handle tender vines carefully. Plants turn brown and die quickly in hot weather. Don't plant

near onions.

Peppers

When: May 15-June 10.

How: Space transplants 2 feet apart.

Tips: Never purchase blooming plants. Protect seedlings from cold nights or, better, plant only when all danger of frost is past. Peppers need full sun. Water regularly. Sweet peppers get even sweeter when they turn red.

Potatoes

When: March 20-May 10.

How: Plant tubers 4 to 6 inches deep, 1 foot apart.

Tips: Buy certified seed potatoes at garden center. Cut each potato into three or four pieces, each with one or two eyes. Plant in well-tilled soil. "Hill up" potatoes in midsummer by pulling dirt toward plants to prop them up. Harvest carefully when tops are dead. Eat bruised tubers first.

Pumpkins

When: May 20-June 10.

How: Sow 1 inch deep, 18 inches apart.

Tips: Fertilize and water well during growing season. To grow large fruit, pinch off tips of vines when they have several small pumpkins on them. Turn fruit regularly to avoid flat spots. Pick pumpkins when vines are dead, or before first hard frost.

Radishes

When: March 20-May 10.

How: Sow 1/2 inch deep, 1/2 inch apart.

Tips: Make several sowings two weeks apart. Thin plants to stand 2 inches apart. Keep soil moist -- radishes need to grow quickly. Wood ashes repel root maggots. Likes peas, lettuce and cucumbers.

Spinach

When: March 10-April 20.

How: Sow 1/2 inch deep, 2 inches apart.

Tips: Thin seedlings to 8 inches apart, using discarded leaves in salads. Cover with polyester row covers to discourage leaf miners. Apply bloodmeal, cottonseed meal as side dressings. Harvest a few outer leaves, and inner leaves will replace them. Sow in late summer for fall crop.

Summer Squash

When: May 1-May 30.

How: Sow 1 inch deep, 1 foot apart.

Tips: Plant in rows or hills. Squash is heavy feeder. Bury compost or rotted manure beneath mounds. Rotenone and BT deter most pests, but cover young plants with polyester row covers until blooms appear. Weed young plants especially. Mulch plants in summer. Water deeply and regularly. Two or three plants are plenty.

Swiss Chard

When: April 15-June 15.

How: Sow 1/2 inch deep, 4 inches apart.

Tips: Thin to 8 inches apart. Chard is undemanding and easy to grow. Cover plants with polyester row cover to stop damage by leaf miners. Harvest outer leaves only.

Tomatoes

When: May 1-June 15.

How: Space transplants 2 feet apart.

Tips: Till soil deeply to 1 foot or more and spread compost or rotted manure in bottom of hole. Fill hole with good garden soil and bury most of tomato plant at an angle beneath ground level, leaving two sets of leaves showing. Grow plants in staked wire cages for easy, disease-free harvest. Give plants 1 inch of water each week to avoid blossom-end rot. BT repels most pests. Tomatoes love carrots and asparagus.

Turnips

When: March 20-June 1.

How: Sow seeds 1/4 inch deep, 1 inch apart.

Tips: Thin to 3 inches apart. Loose, rich soil is best for spring crop. Weed often. Harvest roots when 2 to 4 inches in diameter. Plant near peas but away from potatoes. Also grown as fall crop.

Watermelon

When: May 15-June 15.

How: Sow 1 inch deep, 1 foot apart.

Tips: Water deeply all summer. Grow small-fruiting varieties for beginners. Cover young plants with polyester row covers to repel disease-carrying insects. Remove covers when plants flower. Harvest melons when they sound "hollow" when tapped.

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