Friday, March 13, 2009

It's Alive

Yesterday we finally had some seeds sprout outside and in the cold frames. The radishes that were planted on 2/27 outside (chimney garden, no cold frame) sprouted. I saw two of them poke above the surface. I also saw one of them sprout inside the sq foot garden cold frame (planted 3/2). Inside the traditional cold frame, we have about 4 spinach sprouts poking up (planted 2/26). As you might imagine, I am very excited for these developments. That is about two weeks from seed to sprout for radishes and spinach. I took a look at last year's book just for comparison. Our fist outdoor planting last year was on 3/20 (no cold frame - peas, spinach and lettuce). It took last year's peas 22 days to poke above the surface. The lettuce and spinach came up a little sooner than that, but I didn't mark the exact day.

One of my garden goals this year was to extend the season. I think I am making strides in that area. Here are some random comparisons 2008 to 2009.

  • Peas - Planted 3/20/08 vs 3/2/09
  • Spinach - Planted seeds 3/20/08 vs. seedlings (cold frame) 3/1/09 these were started indoors as seeds on 1/24. Direct sowed seeds (cold frame) 2/26/09
  • Radishes - Only fall crop last year vs. 2/26
  • Lettuce - 3/20/08 vs seedlings (cold frame) 3/1/09 and seeds 3/1/09
  • Beets - 4/11/08 vs 1/11/09 - I started beet seeds inside in January, transplanted them to a large planter in mid February, and moved them outside under the traditional cold frame on March 6th. They are absolutely thriving.
  • Carrots - same as beets. The only difference is that a little critter played around with them and killed about 1/3 of the pot.
  • Green Onions - 4/11/08 vs 3/7/09
  • Broccoli - 4/6/08 (lowes nursery stock) vs. 3/6/09
  • Cabbage, Pak Choi, onions are all new spring plantings for us. We either didn't grow these in the past of did them only as fall crops.
  • Tomatoes, Peppers 4/11/08 (seed starting indoors) vs. 3/9/09 (indoors)

So basically across the board I am one month earlier on average with my plantings. If it all works that is certainly successful season extension - thanks to the cold-frames. Much of the thanks also must go to the fact that we have so many more planting areas ready to go this year. Last year we didn't have any of the soil "shovel ready" to steal a recovery funds phrase.

Another goal this year is successful succession planting to keep the harvest slow and steady. One example of my attempt at this is by looking at my various spinach plantings.

Spinach - first seeds started indoors 1/24. Seedlings planted in cold frame 3/1/09. Seeds started in cold frame 3/1/09. Seeds started in sun garden 3/7/09. Another indoor planting started 2/24. Another cold frame row of seeds started 2/26. So this is a lot of spinach planted both as seeds and seedlings, in various places at various times in small little plantings. I'll probably just get in the habit of dropping a few seeds in the ground every weekend throughout the season. As spring turns to summer, I'll make my plantings in the shade of other vegetables or intersperse them with some flower plantings on the north side of the house. My fall plantings will be back in the cold frame to gear up for a winter harvest. Spinach is a great crop to succession plant because it can grow in cold weather, doesn't take up much room, can be eaten when still small, and freezes well.

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