Returning to Our Roots // March Seeds
The time has come! March first was yesterday. The first thing I did upon waking was fill my mug up with coffee and gather my gardening notebook and supplies. I sat down with all of my tools: calendar, notebook, seed packets, farmer's almanac, and my Planting Calendar from Freckled Hen Farmhouse, one of my very favorite places to find all things farmhouse related. Natalie and Luke are the sweetest!
With my pencil in hand, I began to look back upon the original dates I had written to start planting and comparing with my seed packets. Growing season all depends upon on the region you live in. We live in Eastern Iowa, so that makes our seed-sowing dates line up with Region 2 according to The Old Farmer's Almanac and Region Green on the Burpee Seed Packets. I know, I know... there are probably better seeds to purchase out there, but we're first time gardener's on a budget! We're using this year as an experimental year; we really just want to see how it goes, what we grow, what we mess up on, and then help you along the way. If you're going to try growing alongside us this year, we're so excited, and we're also happy if you're just following along and maybe thinking about starting next season! I think that this can be a great space to discuss our gardening experiences all over the states and hand each other any tips or advice. In my post last week, I talked about how gardening connects you to new relationships with other people interested in the same things... why not connect with everyone, right?
What to Seed + Plant This Month
So, according to my various calendars, it looks like I will be starting a lot of my seeds indoors this month. We are growing quite a variety for our first year, which many might say is pretty stupid, but again - we're experimenting. We got a really great deal on these seed packets, if you remember from my post on what to plant in your kitchen garden, and figured why not just go for it. If you live in the same region that we do, here is what you can start indoors by the second week of March (that's in four days!!):
- Other Brassicas
- Celery Root
From that list, we will be growing lettuce, leeks, green onions, spinach, kale, broccoli, and carrots. I know carrots were not on that list above, but I'm kind of going off of my seed packets. A lot of these crops can be planted anywhere between now and April. You'll have to look at your packets to determine the sowing dates, transplant dates, and how many days until the crops are ready to harvest. For carrots, specifically, they recommend planting them anywhere between March and June, sowing them outside, after the danger of frost.
It's so important to check your frost dates! Some vegetables can handle the last frost of the season. If you live in Eastern Iowa, then our last frost date is predicted for April 25th. That means, we'll probably be planting carrots around then, unless the weather warms up considerably. I still wanted to include them in the list, though, so you knew! All of my seed packets recommend that I start my crops outdoors in workable soil - I'm still going to start a majority of them inside because our soil is still pretty cold. I just looked up our regional temperature for today (you can find yours here) and it's at around 32-36 degrees. Your soil needs to be around 40 degrees to start planting!
Succession Planting, Transplanting, and Interplanting
With most crops, you can practice succession planting? Remember when we talked about that? That's when you rotate crops that mature quickly with crops that take a bit longer to grow. For instance, let's talk about carrots again. They can be planted in early spring, take about 65 days to harvest, and then planted again late summer/early autumn for a second harvest. I just read a really cool tip for growing better carrots, which was to succession plant them with radishes. The radishes will grow more quickly, harvest, and then leave room for the carrots to grow in their soil space. Carrots need fine, sandy soil to grow, and if you don't have that they usually end up all funny shaped and nubby. Pretty neat!
You can also succession plant by replacing spent crops with fresh transplants - that's where the greenhouse comes in handy. When you grow lettuce, you can remove the head, and plant a need seedling where the old lettuce crop was. This gives you more crops throughout the season! Succession planting is only successful if your soil is very fertile and you compost/fertilize often, keeping track of your soil's composition.
With these early spring crops that we have selected to grow, we will be interplanting them as well. It's smart to figure out which plants can be planted next to each other, as well as which plants should not be planted next to each other. As an example, you can grow cabbages and broccoli in the same bed as onions and spring greens. The onions and green will grow more quickly, leaving room for the broccoli and cabbages - similar to the radish and carrot idea above! You can also do with tomatoes and lettuce.
I think that's all I'm going to cover for now. I will leave how to start seedlings and when to transplant for our post next week, so I can get you some photos and actually be working on it instead of just talking about it! I hope this gives you some good ideas on where to start. Now go pick out those seeds, plan out your garden bed, and mark your dates in your calendar. I'll hopefully be starting seeds this next week in our greenhouse - ah! Can't wait.