It's TIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIME! Well, that is, depending on what you're planting, where you are, and your average nighttime temperatures. But still, it's OK to get excited. May 15th is the general planting out date here in zone 6, and my garden is a chaos of half-done projects. May's to-do list looks like this: Do Everything!
Loose-leaf lettuces can be harvested in a few ways. You can take the outside mature leaves and let the growing center continue to do its thing, or you can cut the whole plant back an inch or two above the soil line and let the plant grow again. Either way, you shouldn't pull lettuce out by the root this early in the game because it still has time to produce. If you sprinkled seeds like radishes and spinach over a prepared bed, the plants might be growing too closely to reach a proper mature size. In that case, remove the small plants and use for salad, allowing evenly spaced plants to reach a larger size before harvesting.
Maybe you are not a seed starter or a seed planter. No problem! Most everything you need is already growing and available for purchase. I'm both a seed starter AND a seed planter and I STILL left our local greenhouse with a minivan full of fun. How do you decide what and how much to buy?
First, know how much space you have to work with by measuring the length and width of your planting areas. You can stop there and just head to the store, or you can take some time to draw a design on paper or using garden design software. The software option is nice as it calculates the space requirements for various plants and indicates how many you can fit. Reading your plant tags will tell you what you need to know about spacing as well.
Second, make your veggie shopping list based on what you eat! There's no point in planting those brain-explosion hot peppers if no one is going to get near them. Also, consider the size of your garden space and the output of the veggies. You might love fresh corn on the cob, but corn grows best in 4' by 4' plots for cross pollination, and still only produces a few ears per plant. In a small garden, stick to smaller and higher production summer veggies, like tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant. If you let your cucumber and squash vines trail over the sides of your raised beds, you can get even more bang for your buck, and can harvest all summer long. Speaking of summer veggies....
Considering the to-do list, the overzealous shopping trip, and the bizarre impulse to start seeds for 15 different types of tomatoes, I gotta go. See you in June!
I am Laura; lover of plants, fan of words, drinker of wine, practitioner of yoga, planner of schemes, and conductor of the family crazy train, Check here for gardening tips (because I can't stand the word "hacks"), harvest recipes, and crafty projects.