Spring Basic Growing Guide
Spring Basic Growing Guide

Soil Preparation
• Plants prefer deeply worked, composted, and well-drained soil with a slightly acidic pH
• Dig or till in amendments and rake to create a smooth, level seed bed
• Test soil yearly, and amend as needed

Direct Sowing
• If you are fertilizing at time of planting, band the fertilizer deeper than the seed will be planted
• Dig a shallow furrow to mark the row
• Plant your seed to the appropriate depth (see specific vegetables for measurements)
• Cover seed with soil, vermiculite, or sifted compost
• Water in and keep the soil evenly moist during germination; avoid soggy soil to prevent rotting
• Thin seedlings when there are 1–2 sets of true leaves (see specific vegetables for final spacing)

Indoor Seeding
• Always start with new and/or sanitized potting supplies and a sterile, soilless, seed starting medium to avoid damping-off, a devastating fungal disease
 Note: To sanitize trays or pots use a mild bleach solution and rinse well
• Start seeds in trays or individual 3‒4 inch pots
• Plant your seed to the appropriate depth (see specific vegetables for measurements)
• For fine seed, lightly press the seed into a pre-watered medium so that it has good contact with the soil
• For best results, plant 2-3 seeds per cell/pot
• Water in without washing away the seed
• Keep evenly moist during germination
• Use propagation domes during germination and remove after seedlings have emerged
• To maintain proper soil temperatures for germination use heat mats or soil heating cables
• Adequate light (full sun or direct artificial) is key while seedlings are developing — if seedlings are stretching and spindly looking, they are often reaching for light 
• Thin cells/pots to strongest plant 
• To prevent damping off, do not over water, but do provide adequate air flow around seedlings
• During development apply a foliar spray of liquid fertilizer like Age Old Grow diluted to 1/4 strength 

• Starts are ready for transplant when they are well developed, but before they are root bound
• Harden-off transplants by gradually exposing them to full sun and outside temperatures (this generally takes several days)
• As a general rule, most warm-weather transplants go out after the threat of frost has passed
• Veggies such as lettuce and brassicas are more cool tolerant than tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants
• See specific vegetables for plant spacing
• Keep the soil level the same on the stem of the plant, so it's not too deep or too shallow (tomatoes are an exception)
• Irrigate well to ensure roots do not dry out

• Use floating row covers to protect young plants from low evening temperatures, especially early in the season
Note: Be watchful for early hot spells: covers can create too much heat if left unchecked
• Keep watered and weed free
 Note: Irrigate the soil and avoid wetting the leaves to help reduce fungal issues
• For early and mid season fertilizing, we recommend Age Old Grow or TSC's Complete Fertilizer
• For fruiting plants we recommend a fertilizer higher in phosphorus, such as Age Old Bloom, to encourage flowering/fruiting — excess nitrogen may cause excess foliage and poor fruit set 

Insects, Pests and Diseases
• Strong, healthy plants can best withstand pest and disease pressure
Common insect controls:
• Pyrethrin and predatory insects such as Ladybugs are good for adult insect infestations
• Monterey B.t. specifically targets caterpillars and chewing worms
Common insect prevention:
• Predatory nematodes will attack almost any insect that has part of its life cycle underground
Common disease control:
• Fungal diseases such as molds and mildews can be controlled with Zonix or Neem
Common disease prevention:
• Proper crop rotations (see each vegetable for recommendations)
• Practice good garden sanitation by making sure any diseased plant material is either thrown away or burned (not composted)
• At the end of the season, once crops are expired, remove all plants from the garden
• Select disease-resistant varieties if diseases are persistent
• Diseases vary by region, so it is always a good idea to contact your local extension office with questions for your area

Harvest & Storage
• It is important to harvest crops at proper maturity for peak flavor and nutrition
• Avoid damaging or bruising produce
• Use clean tools and containers
• Harvest when weather is cool, especially for leafy greens
• Chill promptly to maintain flavor and extend storage life (except for tomatoes)
• Thoroughly wash and rinse immediately prior to use