From the Farm: A New Year in Our Garden + Winter Crops
Despite the extraordinary rainfall, temperatures remained mild to close out the year; however, the coming of the New Year has made us remember that it is, in fact, winter as nightly temperatures have been in the mid-to-low 30's thus far.
Our fall plantings at the company farm are starting to slow down in terms of productivity, but we are still harvesting lettuce, collards, bunching onions, cabbage, and a few other winter crops. If you engage in vegetable gardening at your own home place, then it’s time to start sowing seeds for spring vegetable plantings.
If you don’t have some sort of greenhouse or cold frame, then a garage or basement works well for getting your seeds up and growing. Supplemental lighting will obviously be required if starting seeds indoors along with some supplemental heat, depending on your situation. When providing supplemental lighting above seed flats it is important to position the lights close to the soil surface (2-3 inches to start). If you position your lights too high, the seedlings will become weak and “leggy” and will, therefore, not be as productive throughout the season.
Some of the spring vegetables that you typically want to get a head start on in terms of seeding are those which have longer growth cycles. Good examples of these are cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and collards. Most of these typically take anywhere from 60-100 days to reach full maturity depending on the variety planted. These plants are also some of the more cold hardy options in the spring and successful germination can be achieved at temperatures as low as 45 to 50 degrees.
Once your starts are ready to be set out in the early spring, you will want to first transition them outdoors and let them “harden off” for 3-5 days before planting them in the ground. This is an important step in the process when growing plants from seed.
That’s all for this month from the farm. And remember that even though it may feel too frigid to do much outside, it doesn’t mean that you can’t go ahead and get started with your planting!