Organic Vegetable Gardening

How to plant and grow peas, asparagus and spinach

With more and more emphasis on what can be grown organically in the backyard garden, it is no surprise that younger generations are getting their knees dirty and starting their own vegetable patch. If you already have a vegetable garden you know the joys it can bring and the importance of crop rotation, good garden hygiene and composting. Some edible crops that come into season around this time are peas, asparagus and spinach.

Peas are one of those really simple vegetables to grow that many of us remember from our childhood. As soon as the ground can be worked, sow seeds in a sunny location, 3 cm deep and 6 cm apart in fertile soil that’s rich in organic matter. Set up a trellis system over the seeds so the vines have something to grow on to. Once sprouted, peas take 55-70 days to mature, are fairly disease-free and the pods can be picked when they are plump and tender.

Asparagus is a long-lived perennial and prefers a cooler climate, making it perfect for Canadian gardens. Unlike peas, this is a much slower growing plant and usually takes 3 years to develop large enough for full spear production. Asparagus requires well-prepared bed that is free of weeds and amended with generous portions of well-rotted compost or manure. The crowns should be planted 15-30 cm deep and 30-35 cm apart in a sunny location. Once established, they require very little care besides weeding and annual top dressing with well-rotted compost.

Spinach is another June/July favourite. Plant seedlings as soon as the soil can be worked and every three weeks after that until daytime temperatures become a consistent 21 C. Spinach thrives in cool temperatures: hot weather causes the plant to bolt to seed, where it sends out a flower stalk which then goes to seed. When this happens, the leaves lose their good taste and become bitter. Spinach is slow to germinate which is why I recommend using transplants. Spinach likes full sun to partial shade. Resume planting in July through August to take advantage of the cool autumn temperatures.

 

 

Green gardener Mark Cullen is a radio and TV personality, author of 18 gardening books and answers thousands of questions at www.markcullen.com.