Fool or Optimist?

17 04 2012

Well, I took some time and planted some things in the garden last week….just in time for another snow dump and cold weather snap; onions, spinach and leeks.

I am certainly aware that I have planted these things early.  It speaks to the diversity of needs within the vegetable table kingdom.  Spinach actually NEEDS to have cold soil to germinate and grow well.  If you feel like wasting some garden space, try planting spinach in the middle of summer just to test how well it goes.  I recall in my reading that plants would grow slowly and bolt almost right away.  For those who are unaware, “bolting” happens in lettuce when it sends up a central stalk with flowers/seed heads.  Once lettuce bolts, the leaves become bitter and WAY less delicious.  You will always want to harvest leaf vegetables before they bolt.

Back to planting.  Last year we got a nice little dump of snow (several inches) after I put the spinach in the ground and everything still came up like gangbusters.  Last year, that cold weather only lasted 2 or 3 days and the snow was melted in that time.  This year, there’s not as much snow but it’s going to be cold for a solid week I think.  They’re calling for pleasant midteen temperatures for the coming weekend and I CAN’T wait to get back there and do a bit more work.

Directions around onion sets indicate they don’t mind a wee bit of cold  (the package itself said to plant in March (??) or April).  So, I figured I’d take a chance.  It’s a pretty crowded spot and I still have some extra sets if those die off.

The biggest concern is for the leaks I put in.  I had some leeks in my window inside and they were doing pretty darn good.  So the sucker in me thought, “Hey, let’s take a chance”.  So out they went.  I made a nice little trench, planting them at the bottom.  As they grow, the trench will slowly fill up with dirt as the season progresses (this lengthens the white bit of the leek).  Of course, we’ve had more than a few frosty nights and a snow fall over the last 3 days; right on time with my days off.  Luckily, being that they’re on the bottom of a trench, I sat one of my haybales directly on TOP of the hole in the hopes that they would be okay.  As well, over night, I put a plastic 1L bottle of hot water underneath the haybale in the trench which acts to keep the space down there a touch warmer over the night.

When I looked at the leek today (first time since the cold), they were still green.  The leaves were lookin’ a very spindly and not yet strong.  This happens when you grow leek as transplants in a warm, windless (though sunny) location in a house.  Looking at the picture, you can hardly see the leek (they are thinner than the straw bits).  Hopefully today’s quick and tiny douse of sunshine will help a touch.  It looks like the temperature and weather are going down hill again for the rest of this week with nice weather this weekend.  Whew!

Currently, lettuce, squash and melon plants are being started in pots in the window with a few bits of lettuce getting started.