Sunday, January 28, 2018

Start your edible spring garden now

Newly planted seeds in portable greenhouse
Sunday, January 28, 2018

Now is a great time to sow seeds in the garden for early spring greens.  Greens like mustard, lettuce, spinach, chard, and corn salad to name just  a few thrive in cool spring days. Look for varieties that say “cold hardy”, “early winter”, “overwintering”, “winter-hardy”, “cold tolerant”, “bred for winter production” on the seed packet.  

Starting in mid-January, our daylight hours go above 10 hours a day.  This is nature's signal for seeds to start sprouting.  All you are waiting on for outdoor sowing is the temps to warm up!  Well, that time is here.  Start sowing these cold hardy crop seeds for the earliest spring garden salads!

To speed up germination and get an earlier start, you can lay clear plastic on your garden bed to warm up the ground temperatures before you plant.  The other option is to sow your seeds in a greenhouse.  I have a small, portable greenhouse that I use.  A greenhouse can extend the season up to 8 weeks if you also use water jugs to moderate the temperature inside the greenhouse.  When you put the greenhouse over your pots, keep the greenhouse closed up to get the soil temperature warmed if the pots have been outdoors.  

The biggest risk of using a greenhouse is overheating.  When the sun comes out, a closed up greenhouse can get over a 100 degrees on 50 degree day.  A greenhouse on a sunny day can be 50 degrees warmer inside if not vented.  Too great temperature swing on cool season crop can melt the crop instantly.

Here are some varieties that are good to sow right now in our Zone 7 garden.  There are many more than what I have listed.  It is a great time to be a gardener with all the new and revived varieties available today!

*Corn salad/Mache/Vit
*Cultivated dandelion-Clio- and Catalogna-Italian varieties, Garnet Stem  Grow Cultivated Dandelions
*Sprouting broccoli (will come back in the spring, too)  Sprouting broccoli- a year round fav
*Kale (may survive all winter into spring).  Starbor  Grow one of the super greens this year-kale
*Lettuce (can germinate at temps as low as 40 degrees F).  Winter density, Rouge d’Hiver, No Name Red Leaf, Arctic King, Continuity, Salad Bowl, Mottistone.   Everything you need to know about growing lettuce
Jerusalem artichoke tubers
*Mesclun mix
*Winter greens mix
*Austrian overwintering peas in late winter

This is what I planted this week end in our portable greenhouse:  Lettuce, Peas, Chard, Chervil, Corn Salad, Arugula.  I will sow closely.  As they grow, I can take the thinnings and plant into the garden or more pots.  I hate to waste any veggie!  If you pull the thinnings carefully, they will survive transplanting.  Try to keep as much of the roots as possible.

If this is your first time gardening, here are tips to get started  Easy kitchen garden

Happy spring gardening!

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