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Old 07-03-2004, 01:32 PM
C.Swartz
 
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Default When To Plant Broccoli Transplants...


Howdy all. For my second year of gardening I will be growing my own
broccoli transplants from seed. My question: how early can I set the
transplants out? I'm in zone 5. The last frost date is generally around
the end of May. Would the middle of April be too early to set out
broccoli transplants? Should I use hotcaps or anything when setting them
out early?

Any input appreciated.
Chris

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Old 07-03-2004, 05:16 PM
Bill Litchfield
 
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Default When To Plant Broccoli Transplants...


"C.Swartz" wrote in message
...

Howdy all. For my second year of gardening I will be growing my own
broccoli transplants from seed. My question: how early can I set the
transplants out? I'm in zone 5. The last frost date is generally around
the end of May. Would the middle of April be too early to set out
broccoli transplants? Should I use hotcaps or anything when setting them
out early?

Any input appreciated.
Chris


Properly hardened off Broccoli seedlings can take a light frost or two, but
not a heavy one or a freeze. I think your mid-April target is just a bit
early. Here in zone 6, I set my Broccoli transplants out about a week to ten
days before our last expected frost, but no earlier. Works well for me.

Shalom,
Bill


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Old 08-03-2004, 01:16 PM
Dwight Sipler
 
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Default When To Plant Broccoli Transplants...

"C.Swartz" wrote:

Howdy all. For my second year of gardening I will be growing my own
broccoli transplants from seed. My question: how early can I set the
transplants out? I'm in zone 5. The last frost date is generally around
the end of May. Would the middle of April be too early to set out
broccoli transplants? Should I use hotcaps or anything when setting them
out early?

Any input appreciated.
Chris





Broccoli will withstand some cool weather. It also will produce
secondary and tertiary heads after the first cutting. However, this
process does not continue indefinitely. I would recommend that you plan
on several plantings of broccoli, spaced about 3 weeks apart. If you
lose the first one to frost you will still have more coming. You will
also not have to put up with the tiny tertiary heads at the end of the
productive life of the plant.

The middle of April should be OK as long as you have some protection
available when the weather turns cold. You need not leave the protection
on continuously if the weather warms up, just be ready to put it back.
Watch the forecast. On the other hand, Reemay might be useful, if only
to protect against flea beetles, which are generally a problem in early
crops.

The same timing comment applies to many other crops, e.g. lettuce. Most
gardeners go through a flurry of planting in the spring and expect the
stuff to produce all summer. It doesn't work with all crops. Leaf
lettuce can be harvested one leaf at a time, which makes the plant last
longer, but there are diminishing returns. With hot weather, the old
plants will try to set seed, at which point the lettuce leaves get
bitter. Much better to plant lettuce at regular intervals, say two weeks
apart, and harvest the entire head at one time. It will keep in the
refrigerator for a week if stored properly (and not eaten at once).
Lettuce in the field will withstand remarkably low temperatures, down to
25F (don't try that in your refrigerator). My last lettuce seeding is
early August, only because my farmstand closes at the beginning of
October. If I were open longer, I would probably seed lettuce until
early September (for December harvest). In hot weather, plant more
lettuce and harvest it smaller, before it bolts.

This means that you will have some areas of your garden that appear
empty. Live with it. You can take the area that held the lettuce you
just harvested, till it up and let it sit for a week or two. Then plant
the next lettuce crop. (you may need to add some fertilizer, but maybe
not. Try it without and see how it works. If the plants appear to be
growing slowly, add fertilizer to half of them [remember which half] and
see if it helps.)


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