Is It Time To Garden Yet?

Icy streamIs it time to garden yet?  The outside says no, but the calendar says now. Not outdoors – I tried – the shovel won’t break through the mulch unless I use a blowtorch, but I won’t go to those extremes.  Indoors, the sun is reaching one of our only southern facing windows and it’s waking me up sooner in the mornings.  Ah, Zone 5b.  March 6 marks 13 weeks before the last frost. Certainly not close enough to start tomatoes, close to the time if I decide to try my hand at Hubbard squash, definitely time for onions…

A quick win to chase away the winter blues is lettuce and greens.  Lettuce doesn’t need warm soil (from 40° F to 80° F – 4.4° to 27° C), can be grown under grow lights, the roots for “cut and come again” varieties allow for shallower planting medium, and – it’s green and growing!

Styro shipping containers used by specialty food mailers work well indoors as long as you make an overfill hole in the side, and you can “cheat” a bit by putting inverted yogurt cups or taller drink cups in the bottom before you fill it with soil.  This will make a reservoir in the bottom for extra water, the soil that goes between them will allow for the water to wick up to 10″ (25cm), so once the roots start reaching down they’ll have enough to grow. Until then  a gentle top watering will allow for germination.  After the first true leaves appear a 1/2 strength solution of organic fertilizer will help them along, and tide me over until the shovel doesn’t hit frost outside.

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