Friday, March 19, 2010

Earliest Seeding Ever!

I just came inside from the garden - another glorious day outside! It may be the last day of winter, but I just planted some arugula and 'Black Seeded Simpson' lettuce seed - my earliest unprotected planting ever! I'm not sure how well they'll do with no covers, cloches or coldframes, but it will be fun to track their progress. Of course, I'll keep you updated as well! The photo is one of my spring plantings of 'Black Seeded Simpson' lettuce from 2009. It's a great cool weather crop - fast, reliable and delicious.

Arugula is another lover of cool temperatures and the baby leaves are usually ready to harvest around 30 to 40 days after seeding! I guess that's why they also call it rocket - for its ability to shoot out of the ground!

Another early spring crop (that I hope to plant tomorrow!) is mache, also known as corn salad. It produces small rosettes of spoon-shaped leaves that have a mild nutty taste. When I harvest them, I pick the entire plant, using them in salads (tossed with a splash of olive oil, fresh squeezed lemon juice and a sprinkle of salt) or as a bedding for fish and chicken dishes. If you want more info on mache and its extreme cold tolerance, check out my earlier posts, which also have some photos attached.

Happy Gardening!


  1. Hello! I've always planted my veggie garden using the old "after the first full moon in June" rule, but last year my husband bought me a lovely greenhouse to place on my deck. Unfortunately, it was a busy summer, and I found that everything I put in there pretty much fried no matter how much water I gave it). A few soon should I set it up and place seeding trays in it?...where should it be placed ideally for sun/shade, ...and should I keep it zipped up all the time or not? Any answers/hints you could give me would be greatly appreciated. Thanks you very much, and YEAYYYYY SPRING!

  2. Hi Rosemary - I'm so glad you asked! The old 'after the first full moon in June' rule is out the window - at least for the most part. Many veggies can be planted well before the full moon, especially the cold and cool tolerant ones (salad greens, lettuce, brassicas, peas, etc) Mind you, you'll need to wait until after our last frost to plant your tender veggies - tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, corn, squash and melons in your garden.

    Plus, with a few simple season extenders - row covers, cold frames, hoop tunnels, and the right veggies, you can enjoy garden fresh food year round!

    In the past i have also used a small greenhouse to protect my spring seedlings and here are few basics to help you get the most out of your structure:

    If you're starting seeds in the house and then moving them to your greenhouse, you'll need to get them used to the bright sun before you take them from house to greenhouse - or else they'll cook in the hot sun! (I learned that the hard way!) To toughen them up, bring them out and put them in the shade for a few days.. then give them 1/2 sun and 1/2 shade for another day or two.. finally, you can put them in full sun for a day and then move them to your greenhouse..

    You can also start some seeds directly in your greenhouse. Stick to the hardy cool weather loving brassicas, leeks, onions, salad transplants and such - tender tomatoes and peppers are best started in the house, as they don't like the occasional temp drop that we often have in spring (like this weekend!)

    You will need to vent your greenhouse on hot - or even warm days, as the temp will quickly shoot up! If your greenhouse has a door or windows, you'll need to open them up to let fresh air flow through. Unzip! Once the temp starts to drop in late afternoon, you can close it up again to trap the heat for the night. Put the structure in full sun.. partial shade is ok for most seedlings, but as they grow, they will need more light.

    If you get it set up soon, you can be using this greenhouse now for starting broccoli, cauliflower, lettuces, arugula, leeks and other salad greens. You can even seed lettuce or other greens in trays or windowboxes and enjoy baby greens in about 30 days - directly from your greenhouse!

    As I mentioned above to avoid frying your plants, you'll need to vent well - this is key to success! Plus, it will help prevent any fungal problems, such as damping off, which can damage tender seedlings.

    I hope this helps! Good luck and thanks for your question!

  3. Thanks Niki! I can't wait to start...I've started my nusturtiums on the windowsill today, and will be starting my ornamental grasses tomorrow... will be putting up the greenhouse as soon as the weather gets nicer (another couple of days hopefully!)...Thanks again! (I'll keep you posted on my success rate as I go :) )

  4. Sounds great Rosemary - please do keep me posted! :)


Please feel free to leave comments. I welcome your tips, questions, thoughts and ideas (and suggestions for new veggies to grow!)