Tuesday, March 9, 2010

February Frenzy, March Madness

We have our own version of March Madness here at Rain Song Farm, though it really started in February.  We have been planting like crazy.  Actually, planting continues year-round, but it certainly gets more intense this time of year.

We start the majority of our early spring crops in flats or pots, but some are hardy enough to be direct-seeded in the garden.  These include sugar snap peas, beets, arugula, chard, and radishes.  We started the sugar snap peas on January 3; now they are big enough to cling to the trellis.  I am expecting them to really take off climbing now that the days are lengthening rapidly and we are having some warm weather (it is 75 deg as I am writing this).

We planted several rounds of Brassica family (cabbage relatives) and lettuce family seeds in flats starting in mid-January.  The Brassicas include broccoli, kale, Chinese cabbage, broccoli raab and kohlrabi.  Weather permitting, seedlings from the first flats of lettuces and Brassicas will go in the ground this weekend.

In the photo above, the flat in front has several varieties of lettuces; the ones on the left were planted about two weeks before the ones on the right.  The flat behind the lettuces has, from left to right, broccoli raab, Chinese cabbage, kale, and three rows of broccoli.  These have all been growing outside under a canopy on all but the coldest days and have done very well considering the lack of pampering.

The Nightshade family plants, on the other hand, have been pampered, though they recently graduated from the house to the greenhouse.  We started the first tomato seeds at the end of January and the first peppers and eggplants on Valentine's Day.  The photo below shows some of the first set of tomatoes which have been transplanted from the flat into 4" pots.  They aren't very big, but they are working on their second set of true leaves.

These tomato seedlings may be ready to plant out in the garden in a couple of weeks, but I think we will wait a bit longer than that.  The winter this year has been so cold that we are a little hesitant to put out any tender plants, especially those as important as tomatoes.  We will probably plant at least a week behind what we did last year.  That may mean a delay in the harvest later in the spring, but is a lot better than no harvest at all because all the plants died in a late freeze.  After all the effort that went into selecting the varieties, ordering the seeds, preparing the propagation soil, planting the seeds and babying the seedlings (plus saving them from a ravenous cat), I don't want to be running to a garden center in early April to buy fungicide-laden replacements.

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