Well, some experiments are a success and some are not. Some are planned, and some are not. But regardless of whether the weather decides to cooperate or not, I still start sowing things directly and inside and they have to go out or be eaten approximately 2 weeks later. If the timing is off when they need to go out- the timing is off and I have a decision to make.
I've never transplanted during a cold snap. I've always started things around the end of Jan. (cold weather crops only), but I've been lucky to hit a transplant date at a time when the night temps have been close to freezing- which means inside the tunnel (under a row cover) it's not and the plants have a few days to get established before we hit cold again. Well, not this time. Last year, according to my records, I started plants on the exact same day inside - Jan. 27th. I planted them out in the tunnel on Feb. 18th. But last year the night lows were around 33 or so going in each direction, for a few days at least. This year we experienced our fake spring really early, but the timing didn't happen. The starts weren't big enough to go outside during that time. I could have eaten that flat- but instead I decided to try and see just how far I could push these varieties. I started 4 kinds of kale, one lettuce, Komatsuna, Tat soi, Ruby Streaks mustard, beets, mibuna. The night temps were supposed to dip into the teens- yikes! So what was the outcome?
A surprise. First I'll talk about the successes- the lettuce (Garnet Oak Leaf) didn't mind. I was surprised since it's an oak leaf. So this variety will go on my very hardy list! And the mustard shined- it's fine.
The kales- not so happy. Some worse than others but I ended up pulling a lot of them and kept a few that the younger leaves looked okay- we'll see what happens. Surprising since kale is know to be a winter lover- and that is true, but you have to transplant above freezing and give it a week or so.
All the others- Komatsuna, Tatsoi, beets, mibuna, all didn't fare well and were pulled. The mibuna and beets I thought would be okay, but they just didn't look good so I pulled them eventually.
Now I want to be clear about this- these crops have all done well growing them through the worst of winter as long as they're given time to establish first before cold temps move in (with the exception of Komatsuna- I've only grown it once before and didn't keep records.) Starting crops from about mid-Aug to mid-Nov and continually planting out until the temps and light hours are too low is the key. And don't forget the direct sowing too- I do that between what I transplant. If you look at last year's post on March 14th I was picking my first salad of the year - and it had kale, tatsoi and more in it! http://dirtcandy.blogspot.com/2014/03/so-much-to-do.html
Since I had some others to go out and I've got a couple days only of some lows around freezing (outside- which means warmer inside), I'll try again. They are all lettuce- different varieties, and I'm mulching. In the mean time, the spinach and radishes are up that I DS a couple weeks back, the claytonia is up and growing everywhere (a great self sower) and even some lettuces, and I've planted more radishes. We're past the second week of Feb. when the light returns to above 10 hrs a day- so let the growing begin.
This experiment isn't a total loss- I never look at it that way when I walk away with some tid bit that will help next year...as long as I'm keeping notes! And there is always the next batch!
The jury is in
Posted by Tessa Neill
Thursday, February 26, 2015