Friday, April 4, 2014

Starting Some Greens


So let’s get something out of the way before I go on to tell you about my seed sowing activities for today.  I have never grown spinach before – there – I said it.  I’ll just sit here quietly while all you veggie gardeners regain your composure.  I know it’s hard to believe – even I don’t believe it.  Spinach is one of those basic vegetables that everyone seems to include in their vegetable garden, even if they are just starting out.  Well not everyone, obviously.   And there is no point asking me why I haven’t planted it in the past because I have no idea – none.

Ok – now that True Confessions (for today) are over, let’s move forward….

The ground is still frozen outside and my raised bed area currently looks like this:
 

Raised Beds - Early April
 
You can just barely make out the 2 beds at the back.  Doesn’t look too much like spring, now does it?  And it’s been hovering around 0°C (32°F) the last couple of days.  My schedule says that I should be covering my beds with plastic to start warming up the soil – yeah – I don’t think so.

But the temperatures are SLOWLY on the rise and I trust that spring will arrive – eventually – so my goal is to be ready when it does.  And that means having some greens ready to be transplanted.

Today I started spinach, rapini & Chinese cabbage seeds.
 
Rapini, Spinach & Chinese Cabbage Seeds

For the spinach, I am trying a variety called “Monstrueux De Viroflay”, which is supposed to produce large smooth leaves and be a good choice for spring & fall spinach – so basically, it’s a typical spinach that will likely bolt at the first sign of a hot day.

I often prefer to pre-germinate seeds.  My decision on whether or not to pre-germinate is based on a number of things such as how small/difficult to handle the seeds are, how long they normally take to germinate, how old the seeds are and, lastly but certainly not least, if I feel like doing this extra step. 

Spinach seeds are nice and big so they are ideal candidates for pre-germination, which is what I decided to do.  I need 15 seedlings so I placed 20 seeds in a damp paper towel, then rolled it up & placed it in a zip-lock snack baggie.  Then I placed the baggie on a heat mat.

I also purchased “Galilee” spinach which is apparently great for growing in the summer.  I’m a bit skeptical as I always thought that spinach needed relatively cool temperatures otherwise it would bolt.  I will probably wait until mid-May to sow these seeds – my plan is to replace the bolting Viroflay with Galilee.  We shall see how that goes.

Another new addition for me is rapini.  I purchased 2 varieties:

1.      “Sorrento” - A super-fast grower for spring & fall – The catalogue description says 35 days - really??  Sounds too good to be true if you ask me

2.      “Zamboni” - Good for summer harvest & also super (but not ridiculously) fast at 45 days

Rapini seeds are tiny – like the head of a pin – so these go directly in the soil.  Sorrento rapini – 36 cells sown! I am leaving the Zamboni seeds for later in the spring. 

And lastly, I am sowing a 6-cell pack of Burpees’ Joi Choi Hybrid (also too small to pre-germinate).  Last year this variety produced large heads that definitely needed a full 12” spacing – So that means 6 of these as I only have a small 2’ x 3’ section for Chinese cabbage.
 

Rapini & Chinese Cabbage - Seeds Sown!
 
No, that isn’t an instantaneous germination you see on the left side of the photo.  Those are my parsley seedlings that I planted pre-blog – in February.  At the time, I also sowed onions, shallots & collards.  I will talk about all of these early sowings in an upcoming post.

Next up….one of my favourites - tomatoes!!

Till next time…

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things” ~~ Robert Brault

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