broccoli and onions with pansies in my seedling shelf –
project in the book
The calendar says it's Spring! The weather says, not just yet... This winter has been brutal in most of North America. And for those of us near big bodies of water, like Long Island Sound and the Great Lakes, all that cold is stored in a great big bathtub next door.
It's gonna be a cold Spring.
By starting vegetables indoors, you can hedge your bets. I've discussed the indoor/outdoor pepper opportunity before – just grow pepper plants indoors, up to harvest size, and move the pots outdoors for the rest of the season once it's warm enough. (That's over 50ºF or 10ºC at night for peppers, or they drop their baby fruits.)
But peppers are a hot-weather summer fruit. I'm guessing it's going to be a late, short summer. So I'm weighting my plans toward extra spring crops this year.
Any vegetable you can grow in a container, you can turn into an indoor/outdoor grow project, and grow it early. At the moment, in my seedling shelf, I've got young broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, and onions – all cold-weather spring crops. Soon I'll start the spinach. The seedlings may start hardening outdoors soon.
When will they get transplanted outdoors? Who knows? This week's low was 12ºF (-11ºC) – January weather. At some point the seedlings will be too big for their little plastic 6-packs. While it's still getting below 30ºF at night (-1ºC), indoors they shall stay, in bigger pots if they have to. But by mid-April, they should be able to live outdoors, at least inside a plastic tub "greenhouse".
Putting the plastic greenhouse tub on the dirt or driveway helps it hold heat overnight. On a balcony, add a hot water bottle on risky cold nights. Either way, the plants need some air. If it gets warm, they need a lot of air, or you'll get cooked spring veggies. Hoop houses, row covers, water teepees – there are lots of cheap DIY greenhouse methods.
The climate is changing. Think the weather's been weird lately? We've seen nothing yet. Does that make it more challenging to grow food? You bet. But it makes it even more challenging for the farmers, so food prices are skyrocketing. Prices aren't so bad? Well, California grows most of the crops in the United States, and the reservoirs are empty. They've gotten a merciful bit of rain lately. But not enough to refill the reservoirs. Not enough to water crops before people.
You didn't want to eat long-distance trucked-in food anyway.
It's shaping up to be another great year to grow your own. And with climate change, the years are likely to just keep on getting better that way. How to grow vegetables indoors is a skill worth having.
Kindle Countdown Deal on IndoorSalad!
I'm posting the blog early this week, because I'm running a Kindle Countdown Deal on my eBook, in the US and UK. Sorry, I should have thought to tell you yesterday, when the price was $0.99. But it's still $1.99 until 8am PDT March 19th, with the price rising every day until it's back to normal on March 21st.
The Countdown Deal in the UK is a bit different – the price is £0.99 for just a few hours more, then rises to £1.99, then back to normal on March 20th.
Tell your gardening friends – or send them the eBook as a gift!
What's Growing Now?
The dwarf tomato experiment is finished. Soon my earliest pepper will start to ripen. Still harvesting lettuce, stir-fry brassicas, cucumbers, and lightscreen tomatoes. Lots of spring crop seedlings.
What are you growing now?