Our St. Patrick’s Day celebration (a week late)
March 25, 2008
Here in Zone 6, one should plant one’s cool weather vegetables on or around St. Patricks Day. In the 7 years I’ve been gardening, I have only managed to plant on March 17th just once (the first year). It was always downright arctic at the time or there was some other event needing my attention. This year, I’m proud that we’ve managed to attend to our garden only a week after downing our annual corned beef and cabbage.
Vegetable gardening is a wonderful way to get your children involved in an activity that has a tangible and edible reward for their efforts. I do recommend raised beds for gardening, but a small sunny patch on your property would certainly do the trick. I do two plantings – one in early spring for cool weather vegetables like peas, broccoli, green beans, and lettuces, and one after the danger of frost (Mother’s Day around here) for warm weather vegetables like cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers and squash.
Here’s our sad looking raised beds after a winter of being neglected.
You want to first clean up our garden and pick out old leaves and in our case, the pricker balls from a sweet gum tree. Feed your garden with compost and a fertilizer (I use Garden-tone). Work it into the soil (get those kids working!)
I don’t always plant the same things, but this year we planted peas (my kids’ absolute favorite), mesclun mix and broccoli.
Plant seeds according to directions on packet. Peas are especially easy for little hands to plant since all they have to do is push those peas down about 2 inches.
Peas and beans do grow quite tall (remember Jack and the Beanstalk?), so you do need to supply a trellis or stakes to support the stalks. I take the tallest stakes I can find at the gardening center and connect them with green wire every 5-6 inches or so.
Lettuces and broccoli have very small seeds and need to be planted very shallowly. This is probably best be done by an adult (otherwise, you will find lettuce growing in places you don’t want).
Water with a watering can (I find a hose is too strong for such shallowly planted seeds) and watch your garden grow! By early June, your children should be popping open those pea pods and gobbling up raw peas like they were candy!