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Monday, March 11, 2013

Early Gets Earlier

My tomato guru, James Worley, emailed out about a class he was offering in season extension using Agribond, a floating row cover that keeps lots of edible plants viable clear down into the 20ºF. I was really proud that my spinach, which I sewed in August, was still giving me salad greens in November.

James can see that and raise it some: he showed me a bed of spinach he planted in October that's made it through the winter and two heavy snowfalls. Beaten down a bit, but still alive. Dude, this is March 11, 2013, and he's got salad makings in his garden and there's still unmelted snow on the ground.

Count me in. Big time.

As far as bang for the buck, the 'class' (I was the only pupil this time, and I think he limited the classes to five per) covered his instruction in how to transplant the greens, broccoli, chard, radishes, beets and so on in the seedling cups, and how to set up the Agribond tent over them, plus twelve cups of seedlings, a packet of radish seeds, and the Agribond covering & frames.

I know James defrays his own excessive gardening hobby with the plants and classes he sells, but he can't be marking it up very much, especially if you count all the hours of work he puts into it. Which he probably doesn't really, since gardening is one of his favorite play-time activities. Plus, he has a little of the evangelist in him, gardening, organic or semi-organic, and heirloom vegetables, he likes to spread the good word about these things.

I didn't realize a lot of these things, like radishes, could even be transplanted. No carrots on the list, he says they don't take much to that kind of handling, but you can certainly seed carrots in between your rows of transplants. And by planning carefully, you can have green onions early, picking every other one, then small bulb onions a bit later, again harvesting every other one and finally getting your big fat onions last, meanwhile letting neighboring plants with longer grow times expand to fill the space of those alternates you picked before.

It's succession gardening, where you can get production out of a given bed starting in March and going on well into winter.

What I have to plant this weekend: Onions; Lettuce—Black Seeded Simpson, Red Wing Mix, and Rocky Top Mix; Beets—Merlin F1, Chioggia (which gets red and white concentric rings), and Golden; Radishes—a seed packet plus a mix of seedlings and a cup of Red Meat; Kohlrabi—Quckstar F1; Chard—Lucullus and Bright Lights; and for Asian Greens—Siames Dragon Stir Fry Mix and Michihli Chinese Cabbage (hoping to make my own Kim Chi from that).

So it should be lots of fantastic green salads super early in the year and the beds I dedicate to these early crops will be done in time for me to plant summer squash, melons, tomatoes, peppers, and so on.

It's kind of like the revelation of winter cycling: once you decide the weather isn't going to stop you riding, you can figure out the gear to ride in pretty much anything mother nature throws at you.

1 comment:

kctomatotimes said...

Thanks Rod! Excellent pictures and appreciate the kudos!