Let the Seeding Begin…Early

KevinCold Frames, From the Garden, Shoulder Season Gardening, Spring Veg, Vegetables4 Comments

What a weird growing year, and it hasn’t even really started. In 2004 we left for Europe mid-March, and I’d already fully worked and seeded my then-south-facing-bed. We are experiencing its antithesis – below average temps and scads of the record-breaking snow still everywhere. Were it not for my cold frames, I’m not sure how far out direct seeding would be yet.

Rural gardens and farms are still under feet of snow. They will be for weeks. One of the many advantages of urban agriculture: ease of season stretching w/out energy consumptive greenhouse operations. One thing I’m still left confused about is why we don’t do this more…extend our gardening seasons at home. Why is this not part of our northerly habit and food culture? Seems extensive efforts to grow HUGE vegetables are made, and some folks try HARD to grow fruits and veg that simply aren’t meant for our growing zone. Perhaps I’m just that geek who doesn’t value size, or scarcity, but instead values fresh, tasty, in-season, local food – for as much of the year as possible?

I feel fortunate that I can rely on the brilliance of others [thanks, Elliot Coleman…and the Dutch], to avoid my having to discover how to extend the season. It’s been done. So I’m gonna too.

Top left: cultivars Coleman recommends for shoulder season Below: seedlings started March 10th, looking healthy, happy, and to be transplanted into cold frame soil in the coming week or two. Bottom: seeded soil – really, really early.

4 Comments on “Let the Seeding Begin…Early”

  1. Judy Z.

    I had to look up claytonia (winter purslane) and rocket. Where did you find the seeds? I don’t think I’ve come across either of these at local greenhouses. Do you and your family enjoy the flavor of these two items? I’m surprised that you can plant the carrots early. I’m also really curious to know what is on the label that is hidden under the leek label.
    Spinach and peas are not a surprise to me. I remember my Mom had peas up one year when we had a May 19th snow storm. She always said that was the best crop of peas ever.
    I’m a bit surpised that you don’t have regular lettuces (romaine, mesclun mix,etc. on your list as I think that lettuce prefers the cooler temperatures as well. Maybe that is in your seedlings and I just don’t recognize. Have you considered nasturtuims? Both the leaves and flowers are edible and will give peppery flavor.
    I wonder if you had a June bearing strawberry patch in a raised bed with a matching cold frame that you put over it in late March if you could move up that first strawberry pr!oduction to May. Mmmmm!
    Regardless congratulations on getting your garden planted this soon.

  2. A Canadian Foodie

    How do you get your seedlings looking THAT healthy. My leeks are in GREAT shape – I trim them about every 2- 3 days and they are thriving. Some of the other seedlings are thick and lush, yet some are spindly and weak looking (all in the same flat… just different seed) What do you do to have the spindly fellows fill out?

  3. Kevin

    Oh I have my share of leggy ones too. I think it’s just light. I tend to germinate atop my fridge [heat], but if I miss the window when they sprout, I risk insufficient light, and leggy seedlings. I was at Sundog Organic Farm a couple weeks ago, and they were germinating under grow lights. Made me reconsider my light-during-germination situation.

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