March 11 and 12 mark the earliest we have scheduled the Harvey County Home and Garden Show, ever. So it is fitting that my column this week is about planting and growing some of the coldest loving plants in Harvey County.
This group of plants can withstand colder temperatures. Normally these plants can go in as early as the middle of March. Watch the forecast before planting.
Following is more detailed information on planting. As with other vegetables, be sure to fertilize before planting and work the fertilizer into the soil. It is best to have a soil test done to determine what is actually needed as many of our soils have enough fertility to only need a nitrogen-only fertilizer. If you don’t wish to use a soil test, use a fertilizer with nitrogen only or nitrogen with low phosphorous and potassium.
Broccoli and cabbage are normally started from seed indoors and then transplanted outside at this time. Acclimated plants can take temperatures down to the mid- to lower-20s without damage. Plants that are coming out of a protected environment (not acclimated) will need to be gradually exposed to the wind and cold so they develop the toughness necessary to thrive in early spring conditions. This may take as long as a week if plants start out “soft.” When planting, use a “root stimulator” or transplant solution to water in after the plants are set. About 1 cup of solution per plant is sufficient.
Onions are normally grown from either sets (small bulbs) or plants. Plants are more often labeled as to variety. Onions can be planted thickly if young plants are harvested for green onions so that the remaining onions are thinned. Those left to develop bulbs will need to be about 4 to 6 inches apart. Onions are shallow rooted, so be sure to water if the weather turns dry.
— Scott Eckert is a Kansas State Research and Extension Agent for Harvey County. Horticulture is his specialty. The Harvey County Extension Office can be contacted at 284-6930