You don’t need to wait for warm weather to start your vegetable garden. Did you know there are several types of vegetables you can start as early as March? Radishes, spinach, cabbage, broccoli, lettuce, onions and many more vegetables are all quite frost tolerant, and you can seed or transplant them in the garden from mid-March to early April.
If you want to get an even earlier start, you could try covering an area with clear plastic film to create a mini greenhouse where plants will thrive. To try this season-extending technique first work up the soil for your plot and stretch some black plastic over the area for a couple of weeks. This will help warm the soil and give seeds and transplants an added boost.
After a few weeks under black plastic, the soil will have warmed a few degrees, and you can prepare the bed for planting and transplanting. Once planted, you should install a wooden or metal frame over the bed and cover it with clear polyethylene film. Anchor the film at the base with boards, bricks or soil, but remember that occasionally you will have to remove the poly to tend to the plants and to harvest the crop.
For this reason, it’s best if you don’t permanently attach the plastic to the frame. It will also be necessary to open sections of the covering for ventilation on warm sunny days. You can easily accomplish this by designing the ends of the covering so you can easily open or remove them during warm weather.
Submitted by Rick Durham, Horticulture Specialist, University of Kentucky