February 28th, 2019 – A Minor Problem
Well, I had a minor problem this morning. A few days ago, I started a tub of alyssum, dwarf petunias, forget-me-nots, chives, oregano, and rosemary. Some in this tub, primarily the alyssum, began to sprout this morning. Reasonably, I decided to move them out to the cold frames where they could get some sunlight. Unfortunately, I slipped on a patch of ice, landed on my bum, and dumped the tub all over the ground! Ouch! Well, I suppose I’m going to need to seed some more before long.
It may not have been entirely unfortunate for this to happen. Our 10 day forecast from Weather Underground is quickly degrading. Monday morning shows a low of 4 degrees! This is not unheard of in our area, but not quite typical either. However, it looks to be only a short, quick blast of arctic air that will quickly be replaced by a fairly mild air- or so it seems.
Despite the weather, we have been harvesting a fair crop of lettuce as of recent. I planted 3 varieties last September (rouge grenobloise, flashy butter gem, and black seeded simpson), and I overwintered them under a double layer of AG30 fabric row cover. We’ve had a mild winter, so they have done well. We have just begun picking them over the last few weeks. The crop is still lean at this time of year with cold weather and a lower daylight length, so I tend to practice a cut-and-come-again method, harvesting outer leaves when needed. While lettuce is not at its greatest quality in February, it certainly beats out store-bought lettuce any day.
The lettuce I sowed on the 15th in my cold frame is also doing very well! Planted are flashy butter gem, little gem, and marvel of 4 seasons. Both Flashy Butter Gem and Little Gem are 60-70 days from seeding, with Marvel of 4 seasons holding an impressive 40-50 days from transplant. This should be enough seeded to last us from mid April to mid May, assuming a late March planting. I plan to start more in another week or so.
Of course, I must talk about my brassicas as well. Shown are broccoli (early dividend), cauliflower (snowball), and cabbage (greyhound, copenhagen market, early flat dutch, and late flat dutch for a succession of cabbages all summer). I suppose it’s about time to move those to their seed bed next to the lettuces. We will see how these and the lettuces survive the projected 4 degrees over the weekend. I suppose I’ll need to get some serious protection in place. The 6″ leaf pack around my cold frames greatly helps to insulate in times of cold. Of course, if it does snow, that insulation will greatly help as well. Although it’s certainly looking to be a cold start to March, it won’t be long until summer crops begin getting seeded in my cold frame.
Despite my seeding a flat of onions in mid January, the plants have just not done very well this year. I would like to contribute that to the fact that I was attempting to grow them in their own cells. See, onions seem to have a fairly large death rate in their early stages of growth. That is why it is common for onions to be over-seeded. Unfortunately, this death rate was not taken into account when I seeded the onions, and many eventually died off, leaving many bare spots in the cells. Next year I will go back to over-seeding my onions, but for this year I decided to order a few bunches of copra onions from Dixondale Farms for a March 25th shipment date. Despite most long day onions not faring well in our region, copras are said to perform reasonably well (with Dixondale stating an amazing 10-12 month shelf life!). I suppose we’ll find out. Dixondale has a fascinating about us page that I enjoyed reading through. They’ve been in the business since 1913, and the farm has been “in the family” ever since. Although they specialize in plants of the allium family, they also sell tools, fertilizers, etc. I would certainly recommend having a look at their website whenever time permits.