March is here, but it is still freezing cold outside. Spring is coming though! Reflecting on what was growing last summer, there were a few things that I would like to do differently next spring. At a northern garden we get just one shot. With most crops there is no time to redo something or to try one more time, because we only have about 100 frost free days. Now is the time to deliberate and make plans.
Start more plants early in the house
I start all our tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants from seeds; our house tends to become a greenhouse – hmm, but in a good way ;). There is not much room for more. Melons, squash, and celery needed to be started early, too. Planting them from seeds in the garden does not work. I need to find some way to start them early. Maybe a cold frame or a little greenhouse? However, our weather is so unpredictable that only a heated place is a safe one for summer crops.
Start cabbage crops and salad greens early
Cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and bok choy as well as salad and swiss chard can be started much earlier than I did. It would give them a huge head start. Young winter crops do not mind frost (see how different plants react to frost), so why not do it.
Soak and sprout seeds
Sunflowers, corn, pumpkins, squash, cucumbers, etc. can be soaked and sprouted before planting. I just learned last spring (too late for our garden) that it speeds up the germination as much as 2 weeks for corn. That is a lot. I have sprouted peas before, but was not aware of how good it actually is.
Apply manure and compost
It is so important to build up the soil on a regular basis. The saying that manure only encourages the growth of greens is not true. Manure is good for the garden and so is compost.
Cover with mulch
This is the first year that we have our own garden, not on a rented property, yay! That means we can mulch as much as we want to. Straw, wood chips, or grass clippings are all good for mulching. Mulching will help to keep the weeds down and moisture in, a win/win.
Build quick row-cover hoops
A simple row-cover hoop house is easy to build and would extend the growing season tremendously. In fact, Eliot Coleman in his book: The Winter Harvest Handbook shows how a quick hoop row cover can cover the same area as a 22-by-48-foot greenhouse at 1/20 the cost. He uses 1/2-inch plastic electrical conduit covered with Row Cover. A easy and effective way to have a “greenhouse”.
Start with permaculture
Permaculture design fascinates me, its techniques just makes sense. However, as the name says it is permanent agriculture, not realizable on rented properties. Now that we are owning some land, it is time to start with permaculture. To get us started I am reading the book: Sepp Holzer’s Permaculture.
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Amanda Smith says
We are starting more seeds inside this year. We love cabbage and lettuce, so I am with you on that front too! We need a lot of Manure, but we don’t have a spreader. 🙁 We don;t really need row covers. I am so ready to get gardening!! As soon as it drys up or i go purchase some potting soil,I can plant lettuce where I am!!
I am a bit jealous, I was snowing here today. But, if the Weather forecast is right, this should be the last cold day for a while.
I’m getting hungry for fresh veggies just reading your post. You always give such good advice and I have learned so much from you.
Oh, thank you! That is why I write this blog, so we all can learn.
Shirley Wood says
100 days really puts you in a rush to get everything done! Having a Greenhouse and starting indoors is essential for growing year round, isn’t it! I got my seeds started with the repurposed milk jugs. I’m very happy with the progress of my little plants right now. Looking forward to the end of this bitter winter we have had this year and some nice spring days!
This has bin a cold winter. We still have 1-3 feet of snow in the garden (depending if it is a drift or not). Will be a mess, once it start melting. Glad your little plants are growing well.
Renee @ Renew Your Space says
You are such a busy lady! Great advice for when I actually get started with my garden.
Not to busy right now, while still waiting for spring ;). Cant wait to start a garden!
Kristen from The Road to Domestication says
Great thoughts here, Anna! If I didn’t live so far south of you I’d be copying everything you do LOL (I guess you should be thankful I’m all the way in Florida!)
Glad to hear of your blog through Little mountian Haven’s Blog hop- as a fellow zone 3a-er, I agree row covers can make all the difference and I’m excited to try soaking and sprouting some squash seeds before planting too- I had no idea about that!
Hi Angela, happy to have you here. Hope your garden grows well this summer.