Spring gardening season in New England has begun

VermontCathy Posts: 1,991 ✭✭✭✭✭

After a snowy winter, we've had many warm days recently. The now is nearly all melted here at home, though there is still some in the woods at higher elevations.

We went out in the garden this morning and were surprised to find that the soil in the raised beds was fully thawed and workable, and the garlic and onions were up underneath the leaf mulch!

So we spent an hour or so removing the heavy, wet mulch to allow these plants to breathe and get sun. I'll temporarily cover them with a row cover when we get the occasional frost.

This means the garden can go in about 3 weeks earlier than last year!

I am thankful for raised beds. I was standing in an inch or two of water (yes, I am not exaggerating, 5 cm!) while working out there, courtesy of New England mud season. The raised beds drain well, but the native clay soil does not. It may be as much as six weeks before I can safely work the native soil.

I came back in the house afterward and started chitting peas, spinach, and chard in wet paper towels and plastic bags for planting next week. Yay!


  • Monek Marie
    Monek Marie Posts: 3,542 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited March 2021


    We did not have a lot of snow this year but did have a couple of weeks of ice and freezing rain in February.

    Overall I am seeing signs of spring and new growth in native plants and perennials. I a so looking forward to nettle, dandelion and other early natives coming up.

    I switched to raided beds for good about 7 years ago. They just warm up faster and (I have less predator issues with them. They are also easier to set up for early spring and later fall extending season crops

    I am really looking forward to gardening this year and getting the property cleaned up

  • VermontCathy
    VermontCathy Posts: 1,991 ✭✭✭✭✭

    It's amusing and a little frustrating to see snow again after that little tease of warm weather. Ah, life in zone 4!

    Which reminds me, I need to bring in more firewood for the woodstove today...

    I am always surprised at how many gardeners in short-season climates like this don't put in a garden until after first frost. They miss out on a month or more or growing cool or cold season vegetables.

    Cool season vegetables include lettuce, peas, kale, chard, cabbage, pak choi (also known as bok choi), chives, mache, leeks, onions, asparagus, carrots,and radishes. Cold season vegetables kale, lettuce, mustard, mache, spinach, beets, carrots, parsnips, scallions, leeks, parsley, claytonia, and brussel sprouts. (Yes, there is overlap between cool and cold vegetables.)

    (Some varieties of onion, such as walking onions and some potato onions or shallots, can winter over in the garden under mulch; other onion varieties can't. Mustard can grow in almost any season, but it is mild in cool weather and pungent in hot weather.)

    Some of these have to be started the previous fall to winter over (leeks, for example). Some are better in fall than spring (kale, for example, is sweeter after a frost).

    The warm season vegetables are more challenging because they have no frost tolerance. These include cucumber, eggplant, cauliflower, beans, tomatoes, and squash. In our 120-day season climate, we have to get them in as early as possible, and get them out before the fall frosts. Some years we get very little, others we get them in quantity.

    Do you start putting your garden in as soon as the soil can be worked? Or do you wait until frosts are past?

  • Monek Marie
    Monek Marie Posts: 3,542 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I garden three season and am working on doin all fours seasons. I do grow lettuce all winter indoors and of course sprouts and microgreens so I kind of do winter too.

    Cold frames are a must here with our variation in weather. (Today we havee a dusting of snow but it will be gone later today. Tomorrow will be in the 60's)

    We often have colder nights in the summer so tomatoes and peppers ar a challenge here

    I love trying to figure out how to work with or beat mother nature when it comes to gardening

    So Yes @VermontCathy I try to extend spring and fall gardeing here as long as I can

  • VermontCathy
    VermontCathy Posts: 1,991 ✭✭✭✭✭

    We had more snow last week, which shut down all my gardening for about 3 days waiting for it to melt and run off. So far it has been a very dry spring, almost a drought, with little rain to replace the water released by the melting snowpack.

    I planted spinach, chard, and onions a few days ago. Lettuce will probably be planted soon since it has warmed up greatly. The last few days have had highs around 70F, and while it will be cooler this coming week, there is no frost in the forecast.

    Garlic looks great, fall-planted onions look great, and we are harvesting claytonia (miner's lettuce) from the cold frames. It self-seeded last year, wintered over, and has already produced flowers. Some spinach also wintered over in the cold frames, and I can start harvesting that this week.