Snow Seeding by Dan Christina

Another round of snow has buried the Vegetable Garden in a thick white blanket making it nearly impossible to accomplish anything on the long list of preseason tasks but it has made it ever more enjoyable to head indoors to the greenhouse where conditions are just right for starting seed.  Over the next two months, spinach, lettuce, cabbage, tomatoes, peppers, leeks and quite a few other crops get a head start in our small but reliable propagation house, and slowly but surely make their way out of doors when the air and soil temperatures are more appropriate.  That’s not to say we don’t do a lot of direct seeding, in fact that is the majority rule, but that will wait for the snow melt, tilling and bed preparation.

Looking back through last year’s notes, March 7th is the listed date for first seeding.  I tried a new type of tray, a 50 count star-shaped plug tray, hoping that I would be able to leave the seedlings in place longer with a deeper soil mass reducing transplant shock when they went out to the garden.

Star-shaped plug trayProp house

This tray definitely helped the larger and later crops, such as the tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and seemed a bonus for the broccoli, cauliflower and cabbages, but did not seem to give the lettuce, spinach and chard any advantage. Part of the problem, I think, is the length of time the spinach and lettuce sat in these trays, when they could have been happily growing roots in the rapidly warming soil.  Live and learn, right?

Fortunately, this year we have cold frames and new row cover, so even though I am starting earlier than last year, I should be safe in planting out the crops under protection once they have set up in the trays.  I’l be trying out two lettuces, a Boston type-Butterhead and an heirloom-Cimmaron and two spinach types.  Stay tuned as I will be recording their progress.

Red Sails lettuce

Also, the photos are from last spring but hopefully are good motivation in lousy weather like this!

What is the earliest you start food crops at home?