Here in SW Indiana, the time slot from mid-April to mid-May is critical to get the vegetable garden up and running. This is when the bulk of the plants are set in or seeded. This is the time when the garden's output is set up for the rest of the season. After this, everything else that is done is just icing on the cake.
It's also a time when a lot of seedlings are growing - tomatoes, peppers, okra, eggplant, brassicas and beets are either in the cold frame or under lights. Pepper seedlings have been outside in the mobile coldframe for nearly two weeks. Most of the Red Tropea onion seedlings were set into the beds after this picture was taken yesterday.
Indoors the remaining hot weather plants are growing. I'm ready to start some cucumbers but there's no room under the lights. A cool spell of weather has set in most of this week, and I'll wait until that passes before moving the tomatoes into the cold frame. No frost is predicted but the seedlings are still tender and don't like a shiver. Once the weather warms and the tomatoes are in the cold frame I'll start the cucumbers.
So far I've gotten by with just one light unit by transitioning plants into the cold frame, but if the garden gets any bigger I'll have to add another light. You might have noticed that the seedlings are quite small. That's because I start them late: peppers were seeded in late March, tomatoes and eggplant April 4, and okra April 15. The tomatoes have true leaves now and will start growing really fast. In 2-3 weeks they will be ready. I always start okra later. Okra seeds are bigger than tomato seeds and they germinate and grow very fast. Same for cucumbers. Squash I seed directly into the beds.
All six of the asparagus plants that I put in last year have come up now. The last one came up about a week later than any of the others - I was getting a bit worried. I thought about stealing a few spears but wanted to make sure that they are all healthy first. Later I may snitch a few, but this is the plants' first full year and I want them to establish themselves.
Two seedings of brassicas are doing nicely.
The overwintered spinach is looking (and tasting) great. A few days ago the temperature reached nearly 80 degrees F and I began to worry that they would bolt, but the temperatures fell that night and have been cool ever since, and they show no signs of bolting. I get to eat fresh spinach for awhile longer!
The Ruby Ring onions and garlic are also growing well.
Much of the garden structures are up now. I like to give potatoes some support. Once they get lanky and fall over it seems like they get decimated by fungal infections. This year I went whole hog with a network of strings and wire to keep the plants standing. This will provide better air movement through the plants after that mid-summer storm blows through that always seems to knock over the potatoes.
Another part of this bed will be planted with squash, winter and summer. I put a trellis on the west end of the bed. First it will support sugar snap peas, and later winter squash. The snap peas are mixed right in with the field peas planted as ground cover, but I can tell the difference already.
The raspberry trellis is complete. Tulip poplar saplings, which grow like a weed around here, were used at the top of the trellis. They will hold the posts apart when the wires beneath need tightening.
Cable clamps hold the wires in place.
I still have to set up more trellis for squash and cucumbers, but most of the heavy work is finished. Maybe I can get back to the kitchen remodel soon.