Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Spring crops started

I am probably a bit early but I had this intense need to get a few things planted for my spring garden. I am hoping to push the envelope a bit by putting the spring crops into a hoop house over my existing raised bed. My plan is to have them outside in early April. At the same time, I also plan on direct seeding my lettuce and other leafy crops...hope it works as I would love to be able to at least pick a few fresh greens by the end of April.

I was very fortunate that I received some seeds for foods I have never tried before from some great people on the Garden Web site. I am in a birthday swap and listed what I wanted to try and many people sent me seeds for those foods plus others. So far it has been a great experience. Last year I was very successful growing broccoli as transplants and just planted 9 for this year. My cauliflower grew well into the seedling stage and then nothing...a tiny foul tasting head. Since cauliflower is one of my very favorite vegetables, I decided to give it another try this year and started 6. I also started 3 mammoth red rock cabbages...I have never grown cabbage before so this is new for me. The other things I started today are things I have never tasted...I am trying to expand my horizons among the vegetable foods I have not only grown but at least tasted! Today I also started pak choi, leeks, chard and kale. I have eaten bak choi before and am pretty sure I will like the pak choi so 6 of those were started. As for the leeks, chard and kale I started 2 of each...if I like them well enough they will be grown again in the fall garden.

I'll update later as things begin to germinate. Soon I will also be starting my must have plants such as tomatoes...mmmmmm...tomatoes. Sorry I kinda got lost there for a minute as I am a tomato nut and cannot wait to taste another tomato again...I simply won't eat them unless fresh from the garden. MMMM, dreaming of tomatoes...Kim

1 comment:

grovespirit said...

Cauliflower is a very challenging veggie to grow, even for folks who have a lot of gardening experience.

It does not tolerate heat or drought well, but it also doesn't handle cold well! So, some amount of sheltering the plants from adverse temp. conditions may be required. Also, timing of cauliflower planting is much more important than with most other crops. Consult a local agriculture extension service near you about the right time to plant your seeds indoors, so that you will have the transplants ready to plant out at the ideal time. :)

For best results this crop should be started from transplants. Producing high-quality transplants, and then keeping them healthy enough to make nice flower heads, will require frequent fertilizer applications.

Fertilize during seedling stages, apply a special starter fertilizer to reduce transplant shock at the time of transplantation, and then also fertilize often as the plants mature.

As if that weren't enough of a bother already, this veggie also requires soil that is rich in organic matter, minerals and micronutrients so you'll need to mix a bunch of soil amendments into the plot. But cauli. doesn't like loose, fresh-mixed soil; it prefers that its soil be well integrated before planting.

That means soil amendments need to be mixed into the cauli. patch several months ahead of planting. Yes you read that right. Months. Not just weeks before planting, for best results.

But wait, there's more! This veggie is also prone to insects (cabbage worms) and fungus problems like mildew and black rot.
Depending on your climate, you might need to plant hybrid varieties that have better fungus resistance, and/or apply fungicides from time to time.

I used to wonder why this was so costly in stores, but now that I know from experience what a pain it is to grow I can see why the price is as high as it is!

I wish you luck with your 2nd attempt. I'd be thrilled to hear about it, if you succeed this time!