It’s snowing again. Time to plan the spring garden!
Every year about this time, I rev up a spreadsheet, and count backward to when to plant indoors, to get hefty healthy plants to stick outdoors as soon as possible. As a condo dweller, my outdoor growing space is at a premium. I don’t waste months and limited garden space planting seeds out there, if I can start them indoors. This allows more than one crop per year out of my limited outdoor crop space.
This week I started Chinese cabbage, last year’s surprise hit. Delicious with fresh ginger in stir-fries and home-made pot-stickers, we looked forward to harvesting each one. Cabbage packs more flavor and great texture than your average leaf crop. Pretty, too!
Cabbage is a cool weather crop that can survive light freezes or a wayward late snow, under a bit of clear plastic. An early variety of Chinese cabbage can grow from 6-week transplant to harvest size in about two months. That means I can squeak a cabbage crop out of my GrowBoxes before it’s time to plant out tomatoes in May.
Another stir-fry favorite is green onions. They could start indoors around now, too. I put them in window-boxes last year, and they'll grow back when it warms. I used to grow chives in those window boxes. The deep green spikes and purple pom-poms make a pretty combination with short bright annuals. But I like eating green onions better, and they look nice too.
I tried cauliflower last spring. Chinese cabbage and onions are a lot easier. Somewhere there must be weather suited to growing cauliflower and broccoli. That somewhere isn't here.
Other things to start now? I’m growing another early pepper. It’s never too early to start an early indoor/outdoor pepper. This week I’m starting to harvest ripe fruit from a pepper started at the end of September. Peppers stay beautiful, pretty compact, and adore being transplanted. When the weather’s warm, they’ll all happily move outdoors for a long, long productive season. In a couple more weeks, I’ll start some spinach. After that comes the waiting game for when the weather is ready to pre-sprout some peas just a few days before I plant them out. The pea trick is described in the Indoor-Outdoor chapter of Indoor Salad.
By the end of March, hopefully all the spring crops will be transplanted outside. Then my indoor seedling shelf fills up again to start the summer transplants. How to make a cheap seedling shelf is in the book, too. I get good mileage out of mine!