Friday, April 16, 2010

What really needs to be sown inside?

I've been thinking about this a lot this year.  After the unmitigated disaster that was my lettuce and cole crops, I'm rethinking how best to proceed in future years. 

What I'm realizing, is that there aren't terribly many crops that need to be seeded under lights in my zone 6 climate.  Sure, the tomatoes, peppers and eggplants must be.  How about the lettuces and cole crops.  I had initially started them inside in an attempt to get an earlier crop.

I do realize that in the case of the lettuce, I had started it far too early.  The lettuce isn't a huge issue though, it's the cole crops.  We eat a lot of them and I've had terrible luck thus far.  They come up beautifully and then proceed to die one by one.  When I realized that not very much had survived, I direct seeded more crops a few weeks ago.

So far they seem to be coming along nicely.  Currently they are getting rained on, so they'll be even happier, even with the cold weather we're having right now. 

The lettuce and chard are doing quite well also.
Enter the hoop house.  I fully plan to maintain the hoops with cold tolerant crops all winter.  In early spring there will be plenty of space vacated by veggies that we've eaten, to start whatever I like.  Since I've had lousy luck inside and seem to do better out, it would make sense to just wait and start things where they'll stay. 

If this works for me, it will mean less work babysitting seedlings inside.  Less space taken up in my tiny house and less electricity used by my grow lights.  Sounds like a win win situation to me.  What do you think? 


farmwifetwo said...

IMO the only things that need to be started early are tomatoes and peppers.

My asparagus is just barely coming up - atleast 2 weeks too early - which means potatoes and carrots need to go in next week. Lettuce shortly after. Then there's beens, sweet corn and peas. I need to replant my strawberries and pull out some of my raspberries. I also have herbs that need to be replanted as well.

The majority of the tomatoes, squash, watermelon etc go into a corner of one of the fields.

The Mom said...

Farmwife, I really need to get some asparagus planted. It needs to get squeezed in somewhere. I think I'm making things harder than they need to be. Tomatoes and pepper inside and the rest out.

farmwifetwo said...

I've tried growing my own transplants and I can't get them to grow correctly. There's no room in the greenhouse either for them. I am lucky Dh's Aunt grows the transplants in her greenhouse attached to the side of her house.

You could probably even get an early enough start on your tomatoes and peppers inside your hoop greenhouse as long as it's after any hard frosts. The 2 things Dh says you have to watch for is 1 - humidity. Too much and they tip out so they grow sideways, not straight up. And this is the moment you see them sprouting. No moisture on your plastic. 2 - temperature. We keep the greenhouse around 80F or so, except at night with the furnace on and it'll sit around 60F. Costs too much to keep it hotter.

Daphne said...

I think the hoop house is a great way to do cold tolerant seedlings. I wish I had one. I've never had issues with indoor seedlings though. I do lose a few every year to damping off (usually only chard though), but cinnamon sprinkled over the soil surface and if necessary chamomile tea sprays works pretty well. It does suck up a lot of energy for the lights though.

The Mom said...

Farmwife, thanks for the tips.

Daphne, I seem to have the worst time with the cooler weather crops. I'm not really sure why. While I love being able to play with seeds and soil early in the winter, I don't love babysitting seedlings for months at a time. I need to find a good balance.

Kerry said...

Warren, plants everything but tomatoes & peppers outside. We started asparugus this year as well as garlic (which is growing nicely in the garden now.)

Anonymous said...

I feel a curious sense of relief reading this. Starting lettuce indoors has been an abject failure for me and cole crops haven't done much better.

Luckily, they're very cold-tolerant and I get about a 1:1 seed to plant ratio by direct seeding in my Mansfield, MA garden.

The Mom said...

Kerry, I can't wait to see Warren's garden this summer. I bet it's gorgeous!

Safira, you are only a few towns over from me. It seems like it will be the easiest thing.

kitsapFG said...

I do a large amount of seed starting indoors - mainly so I can work in several crops into one bed for one growing season. Without having crops growing and ready to go in when the other goes out - I would mot be able to do that. The trick (as with all things related to gardening) is to find what works right for you.