By Jannie Vaught
The early young grasses are showing and the first Bee feeding blossoms the Dandelion are beginning to show. We in central Texas are in Grow Zone 8a with the last frost around mid-march. But my itch to get outside is seriously getting more bothersome by the day.
I have learned the lesson of starting too early and starting over, we have a long growing season remember that. Let’s talk about the early plant starts and seeds that can go in early. If you have raised beds and trellis you can go in with peas, snap, and English due to the fact that no real tilling is necessary for these types of growing beds. just a little hand trowel and a light fertilize will get them in the ground. Onions do best in the ground and if you have tarped your garden plot it may be dry enough to make some rows and plant onions and leeks. They like to be about 1 inch deep and 4 to 5 inches apart. don’t crowd them if you want big onions. And feed them beside the row. Leeks have a long growing time 120 days and like full sun and plenty of water. plant them about 6 inches apart and at least a foot between the rows. Seed potatoes are available now and there are 3 basic types. Short, Medium, and long growing. The early are the red variety than the Yellow or white and then the Baking or brown skin types. These are often referred to as Irish or “Arsh” potatoes and growing up they were Arsh Taters, I still use this, Valentine’s day is the historical time to plant Taters here in our area and south. They like loose soil and full sun.
When planting day is getting close they will be full of “chits” or starts. and the eyes will be very obvious. Cut them in large chunks with 3 eyes per potato. toss on garden sulfur or wood ash and get a good coating on the cut side. This is healing or the scab that prevents them from rotting in the soil. Prepare your row, and plant them cut side down about 8 inches apart, feed for a 30-foot row 5 pounds of fertilizer, 10-10-10 for example and the next feeding will be 5 pounds at the first “Hilling” or when the plants are growing and the potatoes are showing then you hill or cover the plant will a deep soil as this prevents them from turning green and potatoes grow “Up” the stem. Try to avoid manure on potatoes unless it is very composted as it will cause course patches on the skin. As the summer progresses the potato plants will flower and spread, many do not water them heavy and can cause soft or hollow hearts. When they need heeling do it again. They will turn brown and fall over when they are finished, I dig a few and check on their size, and have some early potatoes to eat.
So Good! My seed potatoes are now in paper bags in a cool dark place as my onion starts also. And I am eagerly watching for dryer soil to get the first onions and leeks in. We are almost into the busy season so take a breath and prepare.
Growing Green With Jannie