By now, we know that most of you are chomping at the bit for spring (especially if you’re in the northern states like us!)… so the best remedy for the need-spring-now blues is getting your spring plants ready for planting! Your spring planting schedule is likely ruled by whatever zone you reside in, and the last frost date that comes along with it. The best resources for determining which zone and frost date you must abide by are your area’s local County Cooperative Extension Service and the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map. The last frost date is the last date in your area that is predicted to have temperatures that are below freezing. It’s very important to pay attention to the last frost date in your area, as almost any plant can be wiped out by a sudden, severe drop in temperature. We’ve compiled a loose list of last frost dates according to zone, but you should always check with your local coop extension to verify.
- Zone 1 = June 1 – 31
- Zone 2 = May 1 – 31
- Zone 3 = May 1 – 31
- Zone 4 = May 1 – 31
- Zone 5 = March 30 – April 30
- Zone 6 = March 30 – April 30
- Zone 7 = March 30 – April 30
- Zone 8 = February 28 – March 30
- Zone 9 = January 30 – February 28
- Zone 10 = January 30 or earlier
- Zone 11 = Free of frost
We send a short info sheet with every spring order that we ship, so you can always refer to that before planting. We’ve gone into a bit more detail in this blog post, so you can always refer to this if you have questions before planting. For the images, we’ve included photos of what the products look like upon being shipped to you, and what they will eventually look like! People are sometimes surprised to find that the plants that are shipped to them look a little brown and sad… but this is just because the plants are dormant, and waiting to be planted.
Upon receiving your asparagus, be sure to soak the roots for several hours before planting. Asparagus requires full sun and well-drained, sandy loam soil, as allowing it to stay in standing water will rot the roots. Soil should have a pH level of 6.8-7.0. Plant in furrows that are 6″-8″ deep, 1.5 – 2 feet apart. Apply mulch to control weeds, but be sure to keep mulch 2″-3″ from the stem of your plant to prevent rot or burning. Don’t harvest asparagus spears the first two growing seasons, as the plant will need to put all it’s energy into establishing deep roots. In the third season and beyond, cut spears right at ground level to harvest.
Garlic requires full sun. Separate cloves and plant root down in loamy, well drained soil 2″-4″ deep and 6″ apart. Do not plant garlic cloves purchased from the grocery store, as they may be of a variety unsuited to your area and most likely have been treated to make their shelf life longer, which makes them hard to grow. Garlic can be planted in the spring, but fall planting is recommended by most gardeners, before the first frost date for your area. When the leaves of the plants turn brown, dig and cure by drying in a hot, dry, dark, and well ventilated area for 2 weeks. Trim roots and remove tops or braid tops together.
Be sure to keep your potato tubers in a cool, dark, and well ventilated area before planting. Plant whole or cut into pieces with 2-3 eyes per piece. Cut pieces need to air out for 24 hours before planting, as they need to form a protective film. Potatoes require full sun and should be planted 1 foot apart in 4″ deep trenches that are comprised of sandy, acidic soil with the eye side of the potato up. Bury them in loose soil, and as vines grow, continue hilling soil over top so that only small portions of the vines are exposed. This will encourage more potato production. When the plants blossom, this indicates that the first new potatoes are ready for harvest. Pull aside earth at the base of the plant and gently pick off a few cooking sized tubers. Once the foliage starts to die back, the potatoes are ready for harvesting.
Blueberry plants require full sun and well drained, acidic soil with a pH level of 4.5 – 5.5. You can increase the acidity of the soil by incorporating peat moss, pine needles or oak leaves into the mix. A 3″-5″ layer of acidic material will keep weeds at bay and maintain the required acidity. Plants should be spaced 2-2.5 feet apart to form solid hedge rows, or 6 feet apart grown individually. The first year, be sure to remove all the blossoms to allow plants to root well, as blueberries are shallow rooted. Aggressive, annual pruning will result in healthier plants and better fruit production. Avoid over fertilizing.
There are two types of raspberry bushes: Summer-bearers, which bear one crop per season in the summer; and Ever-bearers, which bear two small crops (one in summer and one in the fall) or one very large crop. Raspberries like full sun and to be planted in sandy loam soil with a pH of 6.0-7.0. Plant 3 feet apart, 2″-3″ deep, after soaking the roots in water for an hour or two. Raspberries do not produce the first year they are planted. For pruning, summer-bearing varieties fruit on the canes from the year previous, which are brown in color, so when pruning in the fall cut the brown fruit-bearing canes to the ground after harvest, leaving the green colored new canes to bear fruit the next season. Ever-bearing varieties will produce either two small crops or one large crop. To get one large crop, be sure to cut the entire plant to the ground after harvest. To get two small crops, keep the year old growth as well as the new growth, and you will have one crop in the summer and one in the fall.
Strawberries like full sun and to be planted in well drained soil with a pH of 6.5-6.8. Make planting holes wide and deep enough to accommadate the plant’s entire root system. Roots should be covered but the crown should be right at the surface. Roots should not be longer than 8″ before planting, so trim accordingly. Plant 8″-12″ apart and add mulch that is comprised of straw 1″-2″ deep. Remove first season blooms to help plant establish itself. Eliminate offshoots or ‘daughter plants’ as necessary to keep the plant the size you want, and when the season is over cut the foliage down to 1″ before adding 4″ of straw mulch to protect the plant for the winter.
Rhubarb likes to be planted in well drained soil with full sun. Dig 3 x 3 foot holes before refilling holes loosely within 2″ of the top with a soil and compost mix. Space plants 4 feet apart and plant roots in the centers of your holes. Fill hole the rest of the way with your soil mix before tamping and watering. Make sure that the visible bud of the crown is visible above the surface, as rhubarb is very susceptible to rot. Do not harvest any stalks the first year so the plant can establish itself. After the first season, harvest stalks when they are 12″-18″ long by grabbing the stalk at the base of the plant and gently twisting it away. Always leave at least 2 stalks per plant to ensure continued production. As a side note, do NOT consume any rhubarb leaves, as they are poisonous.
Glads like full sun and want to be planted 3″-6″ deep and apart in well drained soil with the pointed end of the bulb facing up. If you plant tall varieties, be sure to stake them as they grow. Remove all dead and faded foliage to ensure continuous growth. Once all the flowers on a stalk have gone by, cut down to 1″-2″ above corm. If you live in zones colder than zone 7, your corms will need to be dug up, dried, and stored for the duration of the winter. If you live in zones 7-8 simply layer hay or straw on top to protect the corms.
These instructions apply to all perennials that you may purchase. The peony above is just an example of one perennial. Plant directly into the ground on a cool, cloudy day or late in the afternoon. Mulch around each plant and soak with water.
Plant in sandy soil with access to full sun, about 1″ deep and 3 feet apart with the bud pointing up. When the vines are 1 foot long, select 2 to 6 to train to sturdy supports and remove the rest. Harvest the ripe flower cones in August or September and dry.
Ramps like a rich, wooded area with decaying leaves and filtered sunlight. Avoid planting near evergreen trees such as pines, laurel and holly and keep away from overly acidic soil. Dig a hole 3″ deep with the tip facing up and fill the hole with soil to just below the tip before pressing the soil down firmly. Cover well with leaves after planting each ramp 1″ to 1 foot apart.
Grapes like full sun and well drained soil that is high in organic matter with a pH of 5.5-6.5. Place each plant 5-6 feet apart, about 2″ deeper than the crown of the plant. Your grape plants will need some sort of trellis or support to climb as well. Be sure not to over water or over fertilize your grapes during the growing season. Tie your plant to the trellis you’ve provided to train it to climb. By the time the first growing season is over, you should have shoots that are two or more feet long. Prune in early spring, leaving only the strongest canes, which you’ll need to train to the trellis or support.