It’s a busy month in the greenhouse as I get ready for spring. Most people don’t start seeds until March and that’s probably a good idea. I started a few weeks early as we have had a very mild winter. Its been wet but its well above freezing here. The night-time temperatures are rising and I can see its close to planting time outside.
I planted peas a few weeks ago and they have really grown. They will be moved outside into a mini greenhouse where it’s a bit cooler but still protected. Its time to harden off the cool season vegetable plants. So what is a cool season plant? They are plants that can be planted out early or later in the season. They grow best when temperatures are cooler than those our warm season vegetables like. They can even stand a touch of frost.
Peas, cilantro, lettuce, spinach, mesclun greens, mustard greens, broad beans, radishes, pak choi, sweet peas and snapdragons are all examples of cool season crops. By starting them in the greenhouse I have a jump start on planting outside. Many of the seeds from these plants are easily direct sown right into the soil. I would never start root crops like radishes in the greenhouse as they do better sown directly in the soil. Direct sowing is planting the seed in the soil outside as opposed to starting plants inside and having to transplant them. Most root crops are best sown directly as its hard to transplant the tap rooted seedling successfully.
I grew a flat of sweet peas to plant next to my kitchen garden this year. So many choices and not enough room for all the lovelies I want in the garden. I have also prepared some plants for a class I am doing in March. Some of the plants are still small but they won’t take long to grow.
It wouldn’t be spring without kale. The best thing about kale is it overwinters and provides a source of leafy nutritional greens when nothing else is in the garden. This year I am growing the new ‘Storm’ kale. So what makes this different? Its a combination of three different types of kale captured in one seed pellet. I guess my only concern about this is I worry that the three plants are growing so close together that there will be root competition. This plant is meant to be a cut and come again basket of kale greens, not a four-foot high plant that they normally grow to. So if you want to try one of the new ones, I will have some ready for sale in a few weeks.
The greenhouse is filling up quickly. The bare flats are full of newly planted tomatoes and cucamelons. Today I rigged up a cover for the mini greenhouse so I will start moving plants outside soon. The greenhouse is only heated to around 5C at night but can quickly warm up to 25C on a sunny day. I need to get the cool season crops outside as I wouldn’t want them to bolt in the greenhouse. Bolting happens when it gets warm out and the plant sends up a center stalk and flowers. It’s the plants way of saying it needs to produce seed. It knows its at the end of its life cycle. Last May we had a heat wave and most of our cool season crops bolted and we only had them in the garden for a few weeks. This year I hope to enjoy them a bit longer.