Tuesday, March 27, 2012

So Far So Good





We were predicted to have a freeze last night after what seemed like weeks of end-of-April weather. It sent those of us, who had already planted our seedlings, scurrying to protect them. I had stuck a bunch of 2-inch tall pak choi, Lacinato and Russian red kale and three baby Forellenschluss lettuces -- as well as two rows of peas --in a bed on the northwest side of the garden, which is slightly protected from a long northwest fetch of wind by a cedar and a rickety fence. To further protect them from both frost and scavenging critters, I had laid floating row cover over them.

A look today revealed that they are (hooray!) intact, though slightly perforated by what appear to be flea beetles or some other small-hole-eating thing. They’re also nearly 3 times their original size.

In order to stagger the harvest, so we can make kale gratin and kale, bean and tomato soup and stir-fried pak choi with ginger and water chestnuts etc. etc. ad infinitum, I stagger plantings of seedlings. All have been sown on the same day in one or two starter trays, so what's not planted one week will remain to be planted another. The first wave went in on March 13. The second went in last Friday (23rd) in another bed, (also covered with floating row cover); they are hanging in nicely. The final wave of these seedlings will go in in another week (or whenever I prep a bed). At that same time, I’ll sow kale, pak choi and lettuce, etc. seeds so with luck if not strict planning, there will be weeks’ and weeks’ worth of harvest.

One thing that is striking when you start your seeds and either transplant them into the garden (or into graduated containers as I do with tomatoes and peppers and tender herbs) is how much the size of the container affects the growth of the plant. A seedling kept in a small cell will stay pretty small and get root-bound. Repotted into an increasingly larger container or into a bed (provided the timing is right), it will far outstrip its starter tray cell-mates who’ve stayed behind. It is a great illustration of giving a living thing room to grow.

I always think it also says something about human beings needing room to grow, despite our fears for our children in this scary world of ours, but that’s a different conversation for another day in another venue. Meanwhile, back to the repotting.

2 comments:

  1. Hard as it is to believe, what with all the headlines, I forgot and left my lettuce seedlings outdoors. They survived! Had a layer of ice in the bird baths, so I know it got down to 32f.

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  2. Yay! What a relief that must have been! Must have been helped by whatever microclimate they were in -- near a wall? south side? It's amazing how small things make a big difference.
    Do you think maybe they were also helped by their variety? Different varieties seem to have slight, but significant variations in cold/heat tolerance.

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