As the days get longer it’s time to start thinking about spring gardening on Cape Cod! While the days are still cold, in order to have a successful growing season it’s important to start planning early. Before you know it the lilacs and daffodils will be blooming, and things will be greening up.
If you start thinking about growing in your garden when things warm up, there are less options of what to grow, so it’s important to think ahead if you want to make the most of your garden.
Consider these tips for your upcoming spring gardening on Cape Cod:
First, consider what you want to grow! It’s always nice to curl up when it’s frosty outside to peruse seed catalogs. There are so many fun plants, vegetables, fruits, and flowers to grow. You may have old favorites, and standbys, but it’s always fun to add something new into the mix if you’ve got the space.
Gardening on Cape Cod is all About Experimentation
Gardening is all about experimentation, so don’t be afraid to try new things. It’s a good idea to order seeds as early as you can. The pandemic-sparked interest in home gardening has only grown, so when spring gardening on Cape Cod you’ll want to order from seed companies early so things don’t sell out.
While you’re browsing the seed catalogs, consider where you’re going to be growing your garden. Do you have an in-ground garden plot in the backyard, raised beds, a container garden, window boxes, or are you planning to grow things indoors all seasons?
Consider Your Gardening on Cape Cod Growing Space
Considering your growing space will help to determine what you might have the best luck growing. If you’re growing on a small patio space, growing winter squash might not be the best use of space! Growing in containers is a perfect way to get your hands dirty in the garden if you don’t have yard space. Be sure to look in seed catalogs for compact, container friendly plant varieties.
Warmer Climate on Cape Cod Caused by Surrounding Ocean
Cape Cod’s climate is warmer than much of the rest of New England, thanks to the moderation caused by the surrounding ocean. The area also has a longer growing season and is less likely to have the super-hot summer days that cause lettuce and other cool loving crops to bolt, trying to flower and go to seed before the gardener would like! The region’s hardiness designation is Zone 7.
While the Cape, islands and Plymouth have a longer growing season compared to much of New England thanks to the moderating effects of the Atlantic, there are still heat loving crops that need a bit of a head start when spring gardening on Cape Cod.
You’ll want to make a plan for if you’re going to start your own seedlings at home or buy them elsewhere. If you’re looking to purchase seedlings consider stopping by one of the great annual plant sales on Cape Cod. Garden centers, nurseries, and farms also sell a wide variety of seedlings and plants. When you’re buying seedlings, don’t be afraid to ask for advice. One of the many joys of gardening is the group of people who share the interest. You can pick up great tips and suggestions of plant varieties and growing techniques that will help you for years to come.
Community Gardening on Cape Cod
Another way to have a garden and join the community of Cape Cod gardeners getting ready for spring gardening is to consider renting a plot at one of the many community gardens in Cape Cod. These gardens provide space to grow if that’s not something you have where you live, a way to share resources and advice, and a fun way to connect with other folks who love gardening too!
Things like tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, onions, leeks, and many flowers need a jump on the season in order to produce within the short New England growing season. Other crops like broccoli, cabbage, kale, and brussel sprouts can also get a head start indoors. Root crops and most vine crops do best when seeded directly into their growing spot. Root crops especially do not tolerate transplanting well.
If you do decide to start your own seedlings there are a number of different directions you can go. Many folks use plastic pots or multi-pack cells with great success. If you don’t want to go that route, there are lots of other creative solutions for starting seedlings! Things like egg cartons, plastic bottles with drainage holes, and milk cartons can be used in a pinch to get those seedlings growing!
What is Soil Blocking?
Another neat solution is soil blocking. These can be created using a soil blocker tool. The tool allows you to pack in moist soil, punching out compacted squares of soil with a small dent in the top. Seeds are placed into the divot and grow into the block of soil. When their roots meet the edge of the block they don’t become rootbound, roots circling around and around, like happens with plastic pots. They instead ‘air prune’ waiting to be placed in either a larger soil block or into the ground or a big container where they will take off!
Special Seedling Heating Mats and Growing Lights
Special seedling heating mats can help seeds germinate. These pads keep the potting soil warm, stimulating seed germination. A few lower tech solutions that can help seeds germinate include humidity domes, grow tents, and even clamshell clear plastic salad containers. Just be sure things don’t get too hot for the plants in your mini greenhouse.
If you don’t have a greenhouse you may want to consider growing lights for some seedlings. While sunny windowsills can do in a pinch they often cause the seedlings to stretch out, reaching for the weak light, becoming tall or ‘leggy.’ There are a wide range of grow lights on the market, from fluorescent tubes to newer LED grow lights. Some folks even grow plants indoors to maturity under lights!
Once you’ve got your seedlings in the soil, enjoy watching them germinate and thrive. It’s so satisfying to watch the tiny inert looking seed transform into a thriving, vigorous plant, and then into a meal!
If you’re looking for something indoors and fascinating, consider a home hydroponic setup. Instead of growing your plants in soil, they are grown in water! Aquaponics systems take this idea but add fish to the system!
However, you approach spring gardening on Cape Cod, enjoy watching seeds germinate and the world turn green again. Even if you garden doesn’t grow the way you’d like this season, there’s always next year!