Start Growing These 8 Veggies (and one fruit) in April

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While it’s still pretty chilly outside in Western New York, that doesn’t mean you can’t start planting your favorite vegetables to prepare for the springtime thaw.

Because we have such short growing seasons, many home-grown farmers start their seedlings indoors before transplanting the vegetables to the garden once the temperature warms.

Sow these seeds now so your vegetables are ripening on time this year.

Corn

corn plant

While starting corn indoors isn’t recommended, it isn’t impossible either. Corn seeds should be started no sooner than 4 weeks before your anticipated transplant date so the roots go undamaged. With our short seasons, WNYers have to make compromises sometimes.

Corn seed should be sowed into peat pot cups and placed in a sealed plastic bag in a sunny area. After four to seven days, seedlings should appear. Remove the pot from the bag and let rest in a warm, sunny spot in your home (between 60-70 degrees). Continue to water and fertilize until you move the plants outdoors.

When you transplant the corn, plant your stalks in groups opposed to rows because they pollinate via wind and this formation will help produce a richer crop. If you want to wait to grow your corn outside, plant your seeds 2 weeks after the final spring frost.

Broccoli

broccoli plant

Not only is broccoli filled with potassium, vitamin C and fiber, it’s delicious and easy to grow. Start your seeds indoors in a seed cup and be ready to transfer your seedlings into a container no less than three gallons in volume.

After 3-4 weeks of growth, start bringing your plants outside for an hour a day to help acclimate them to the outdoor climate, like a goldfish being put in a new tank. This process should be started a couple weeks before our last average frost. For the Buffalo area, that’s May 20. To check your area’s last frost dates, click here.

Transplant your broccoli plants to outdoor soil two weeks after the last frost and continue to water until harvest in mid-to-late June.

Beets

beets

Rich in fiber & potassium, and low in calories, beets are just one of the best vegetables around. Better yet, they’re incredibly easy to grow too!

Beet seed clusters should be sown one inch deep and apart from one another until they reach roughly three inches, at which time the root vegetables should have three inches of space between them.  Beets can be grown as easily indoors or outdoors. If you’re growing beets in a pot, make sure the plant has a foot of depth below it to grow; however, you’ll harvest them when they’re a little bigger than golf balls.

Harvest your beets between 40 and 80 days of growth for optimal flavor. Your beets should be between one and three inches in diameter.

Kale

wild kale

Fortunately for New York farmers, Kale is one of the cold-weather crops that thrives in our climate. This hearty, leafy vegetable is a great replacement, or supplement to any salad and is known as a “superfood,” delivering more than 100 percent of your daily vitamin A and C requirements in just one serving.

When preparing to plant Kale, make sure you’re using standard pot sizes to ensure equal light distribution across your crop for standardized growth. The planting process is quite simple; scatter seeds over potting soil, water and cover with another layer of dirt. The plant is best grown under a grow light for 14 hours a day.

Prepare to transplant your kale crop to the outside garden about 4 to 6 weeks after seedlings appear and harvest your plant roughly 50 days after transplanting.

Green Onions

growing green onions

Onions are one of the easiest vegetables to grow, indoors or outside. Green onions are low in calories and have lots of Vitamin A and C to provide, as well as a great taste.

Green onions are harvested from the stalk up, so their bulbs stay intact and undisturbed during multiple grows. To start growing your own green onions, place the vegetable root-side down and with the green stem rising above the soil.

After planting the green onions in a 6-inch deep pot, you only need time and water. You’ll see the green stalk start to grow, just simply trim off what you need to use and continue to water. Take care not to trim the stalk too low to the bulb, because you could kill the crop.

Sweet Peas

picking sweet peas

Depending on what camp you’re in, you either love peas or loathe them. If you love them, you’ll love them even more when they’re fresh off the vine.

Many of us have already grown peas for a classroom project as a kid, so it shouldn’t be so hard the second time around, right? This time though, we’re going to get farther than the sprout stage.

Sow your sweet peas one-inch deep in a three to four-inch-deep planting pot filled with moist potting soil. For successful growth, keep the soil moist for the duration of the indoor grow and ensure the plant is kept between 55 and 70 degrees. Once the plant sprouts 3-4 leaves, you can start hardening it off and prepare for transplant.

Once transplanted, make sure the peas have a terrace on which to climb for maximum crop yield. Your peas should be ready for harvest around early to mid June.

Bell Peppers

wild bell peppers

Peppers are a wonderful addition to any garden and every salad. Though not as hyped as oranges, bell peppers pack a ton of vitamin C— 159% of your daily intake to be exact.

Growing peppers isn’t difficult and can be handled with ease by a novice gardener. Sow your seeds indoors roughly eight to 10 weeks before the final frost date. The seeds should be planted three to a pot and the weakest plant should be removed. Allow the remaining two to grow together. Harden off your pepper plants 10 days before you transplant them.

Continue to water your plants once they’ve been transplanted and look to harvest your first peppers around the end of September. They take a while to finally fruit, but they are worth the wait.

Spinach

wild spinach

Spinach, it’s the stuff kids’ nightmares are made of, but so many of us have come to appreciate this vegetables delicious taste as adults. One serving of spinach will provide you with more than half of your daily vitamin a intake.

Catalina Spinach is typically the easiest variety to grow indoors. Start with a pot 6 to 8 inches deep and sow your seeds just half an inch deep. If you’re starting with a seed tray, wait to transplant to a larger pot until three true leaves have formed.

Transplant the spinach outdoors two weeks after the last frost and continue to water. A full-fledged spinach plant will grow throughout the summer and into early fall for harvest.

Tomatoes

growing tomatoes

Ah, the delicious tomato fruit. Ripe with vitamin A and C, and just generally tasty. Tomatoes come in many varieties, but in general they should be started indoors roughly 6 weeks before the last frost.

Place two or three seeds in each seed starter cup. The seeds should be covered with only a quarter inch of moist dirt. Once your seeds begin to sprout, remove the weakest plant.

You’ll need to transplant your plants twice, once indoors to a larger container (if you started from a seed tray) and then hardened off and transplanted outdoors. When planted outdoors, your tomato plants will need terraces to grow and support themselves on. Look to harvest your tomatoes in another 8 weeks.