Spring Vegetable Gardening

Friends Drift Inn Farm – Gardening

Spring Vegetable Gardening Workshop UK Ag Station

Chatting it Up with Dr. Shawn Wright

Spring Vegetable Choices

Valentine’s Day at the University of Kentucky Robinson Agricultural Center was an offbeat choice for date night….but then again Charlie and I dance to our own music!

So what’s up with Spring Vegetable Growing this year?

Spring Greens

Lettuce Red Sails a Spring Farmers Market Favorite

Demand for Spring Greens is expected to increase at Farmers Market venues. Red Sails lettuce performs well here in Zone 6b, according to Dr. Wright.

Flipping through my seed catalogs, I note that many are offering Red lettuce mixes. Colors sell well and they definitely add variety to the dinner plate!

Turnips Purple Top for Turnip Greens or Roots

Between the Upper South and Lower South, there is always a great debate about what is better Turnip Greens or Collard Greens. My habit is to grow both of these as a fall crop, but our Extension friends suggest planting for spring. Purple Top Turnips do well, and are dual purpose; the greens and roots are both edible.

As for Collard Greens, well is there anything but Georgia Southern Creole? I think not.

Beets On Target

When it comes to root crops, Chioggia beets, which have red and white target circles, are a big draw for home gardeners as well as farmers market vendors. Chioggia reaches maturity in 65 days. From a culinary perspective, these are pretty in salads….but be advised they turn pink and loose much of their graphic appeal when cooked. Their flavor is mild and earthy.

Yellow Cylindrical Beets are making a splash with consumers….and Wright suggests Yellow Beets make a great borscht. Borscht? I’m a simple mountain girl…..guess I’ll have to do some research on that one! Giggles

For canning and pickling, I missed the beet variety. I have relied on Detroit Red for years, and last year we bought Flat of Egypt beets at the Farmers Market. Both worked well for canning. Flat of Egypt beets are also well suited to roasting.

Carrot All?

Growing Carrots in Containers? Well, it’s not something I have ever tried but why not? Dr. Wright suggests carrots are a great selection for kids to grow. The Spring Vegetable presentation highlighted several varieties, noting that carrots come in an array of colors including white, yellow, red, and purple. Planting a mix will surely brighten up your salads, and make kids laugh. How great is that?

If planting in rows, Wright suggests planting radishes in amongst carrots. Carrots are slow to germinate. Radishes are quick to emerge, and will serve as row markers.

Easy Pea-sy!

Old timers here in the mountains traditionally plant peas around Valentine’s Day. English peas, or Shell Peas, were a big hit at the Lexington’s Farmer Market last spring. Charlie and I are not big fans of English Peas, but Little Marvel and Maestro are two names we well know.

I do however love Snow Peas! A great variety for stir fries or freezing, Alaska Sugar Pods are one of my favorites. Yes, I know not very Appalachian of me…..but we are talking “real life” here and I like Snow Peas!

Coming Friday…A few thoughts about Hoops, High Tunnels, and Stink Bugs Spring Gardening Extending Your Growing Season New Ideas for organic minded pest control of Strawberries

Friends Drift Inn Gardening
Tomato Picks 2011 Part I
2011 Tomato Picks Part II
Heirloom Vegetables and Gardening

About Joyce Pinson

Joyce Friend Pinson is a regional farm-to-table columnist for the Appalachian-News Express. She is a local television host. Her column show and blog, Friends Drift Inn, explores food, gardening, and real life farm-to-table stories from the perspective of a baby boomer in Appalachia. Joyce has a background in agriculture, media, and small business. Joyce is an heirloom gardening addict and home canner. She has a penchant for big hats, pointy toed shoes, and bourbon. Along with her husband Charlie, Joyce really does live in a barn where they ballroom dance. And laugh. And cook. And giggle.