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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Time to start your garden. In January?

My garden is a key component in preparing my family and I think it's as important now as Victory Gardens were in the past.

I started my garden about 2 weeks ago. I ordered seed manuals, started pulling winter weeds, clearing leftover plants and sharpened the tools. It's still below freezing most nights and we had an inch or so of snow this week. I plan to actually start planting seeds this weekend. OSU has a great calender that you should modify to fit your location.

How do you know when it's time for you?

The USDA Hardiness Zones are usually included on most seed packets bought in the US but Sunset Magazines zones are generally considered more accurate and often used by local nurseries. Unfortunately they use a different numbering system and you'll need to interpret the recommendations based on where your own garden is located.

Your baseline for starting seeds is based on the last frost date for your region. Typically, raised beds can be planted 2-4 weeks earlier than specified, adding a cold frame can give you a couple more weeks and adding a insulated blankets at night might give you a couple weeks too. Starting seeds or pots inside extends your growing season as well, but many plants don't transplant well and need to be started in a pot suitable for the entire growth cycle.

For me (Willamette Valley) it's time to start peas in the raised beds; inside it's the first round of broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower in trays. If I can finish my new cold frames I'll toss one over one of the raised beds and put in the first round of onions. My garlic cloves are in the fridge, wrapped in a damp towel next to last years short small horseradish roots (both in ziplock bags), they're just kinda hanging out for now but I give them some sun and light occasionally just for fun and they progress slowly. The garlic is late, I was lazy last fall due to work, but I can still get a decent harvest if I plant it in the next month or two.

Good Luck - Rick

2 comments:

Shy Wolf said...

We like to start our tomatoes in mid Feb so they've got a nice start on spring. I've been keeping them on a window ledge, need to consider building a greenhouse and getting an early start on a lot of the 'good' stuff.
Thanks for the links.
Shy

Rick said...

A 6" pot works great if you're looking to get a early start on tomatoes. You can easily grow your plant to 18 or 24" in a 6" pot as long as you know that it has to be transplanted outside before you'll get it to fruit. At about 12-16 weeks a 6" potted tomato will want to push out the dirt with it's roots, if it starts to yellow on you transplant it somewhere to a larger container with fresh root feed.

In a greenhouse or indoors tomatoes can live 3+ years (they can grow huge), forcing them to reproduce is a lot harder, I'd rather whack off the good tomatoes and replant the seeds. For me it seems like a fresh vigorously growing plant produces the best.

I have two basic tricks for 'indoor green houses'; think cheap 4'-5' tall shelf units inside the static portion of your sliding glass door, or 1x10's screwed into your window sill to provide additional growing space.

A little disclaimer: I have a 10x16 greenhouse in my backyard that I haven't used properly in the last 5+ years. The dogs ripped the lower plastic sheets apart, somehow it got a hybrid of poison ivy/oak. This year it all changes and I'll share pics of clearing the crap, repairing the walls and a new watering system based on local water and a electronic 'I'm too dry give me some water' system.

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