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Go green with St. Patrick’s Day garden

On March 17, try this traditional planting activity with your family

Ireland's St. Patrick's Day is the usual day to plant peas and potatoes. Most temps in the U.S. are OK, so celebrate the holiday with a “green” activity: plant a garden! On March 17, St. Patrick's Day, try this traditional activity with your family.
Ireland's St. Patrick's Day is the usual day to plant peas and potatoes. Most temps in the U.S. are OK, so celebrate the holiday with a “green” activity: plant a garden! On March 17, St. Patrick's Day, try this traditional activity with your family.
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Celebrate St. Patrick's Day, start a spring garden.
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Here’s a great spring family activity that you might want to try to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day….and get you started with your spring garden.

In Ireland, St. Patrick's Day is the customary day to plant peas and potatoes. The timing works for most temperatures in the United States, so why not celebrate St. Patrick's Day with a really “green” activity: planting a garden!

Contingent on your geographic locale an St. Patrick’s Day, you may discover your desired spring garden bed is still a bit covered with snow or the spring earth is still frozen, too much so to toil. Could be your home or apartment may not have a backyard or plot of ground to use for a spring garden.

You’re in luck…. peas and potatoes can be planted in vessels and containers, and you can enjoy the spring garden St. Patrick’s Day-planted crop on a patio, deck, balcony, or sunny windowsill. Then you can decorate it with a shamrock plant marker.

Be sure and watch the video on planting potatoes.

What You’ll Need:

  • decent quality potting soil
  • big flower or plant pot with saucer (Note: Be sure the pot has drainage holes in the bottom and is at least 12-15 inches in diameter at the top.)
  • peas seeds (or sprouted peas) and seed potatoes (Note: Avoid planting potatoes from the store or supermarket. Those produce items may be treated with chemicals and will not grow well. You can likely buy your peas and potatoes from a neighborhood gardening store.)
  • skinny branches or wood dowels to use as support for vines
  • water

What You’ll Do:

  1. Fill your container two-thirds full with potting soil.
  2. Press your peas or pea seeds or seed potatoes into the dirt. Cover with an inch or two of soil.
  3. Stick long, thin branches or wood dowels upright in the soil. As the vines grow, they wrap themselves around the dowels.
  4. Place plant containers in a sunny indoor spot 9if it is still too cold outside) or outdoors in full or partial sunlight. If the weather forecast calls for frost, bring containers inside.
  5. Water by hand every two to three days, keeping soil moist. Watch not to over-water.
  6. For potato plants:
  • As your potatoes grow, add additional planting soil around the base of the plants, creating a slight hill. This is called hilling. Hilling ought to be done each time your plant raises about four inches.
  • Carry on with watering the plants on a regular basis as leaves and then flowers grow. When the leaves of the potatoes’ plants begin to turn yellow and die, stop watering.
  • After two or three weeks, baby potatoes will be ready to harvest, or you can wait another four to six weeks to harvest larger potatoes from your St. Patrick’s Day spring garden crop.

7. For pea plants: Peas are ready to harvest when the pods are full and heavy. Use scissors to carefully cut the pods from the plant. Quickly pulling them off by hand can end in pulling the whole plant up and injuring the roots.

Growing Tips:

  • In U.S. areas of are too warm in March to plant cool-weather peas and potatoes, you can plant sweet potatoes, beans, and leafy greens like spinach or swiss chard.
  • A few gardeners sprout seed potatoes before planting cutting them into small pieces with sprouting eyes, so they begin growing more quickly—an exercise known as chitting. Place your seed potatoes on a shallow dish or tray, or in a plastic or cardboard open egg carton. Retain them in a warm spot with a great deal of sunlight or under a fluorescent grow light. When the potatoes develop one-inch sprouts, they are set to be planed.
  • Remember, when watering the pea plants, be cautious not to get water on the leaves of the plant. Caused by the water mildew can grow on the leaves.

Source, Article in National Wildlife Federation, Elizabeth Scholl, a New Jersey-based writer of children's books and magazine articles, with a background in elementary education. She specializes in nature and environmental topics.