Spring officially arrives on Tuesday, March 20th and the Second Street Chicken Ranch has been busy preparing for the arrival of the 2012 gardening season.
With the mild temperatures of late, I’ve been able to get out and inspect the raised beds and remove much of the thick straw blanket that was keeping carrots, garlic, kale, cress and spinach cozy over the winter.
Much to my delight, the soil was moist and light thanks to a generous top dressing of compost (about 3 inches) last fall. I have to admit it felt so good to grub in the dirt a little!
Since we planted winter crops in both the covered and open raised beds last fall, our season is already underway. The overwintered carrots were sweet and crisp and the kale and cress grew fabulously under the covered raised beds. The open bed of spinach, cress and kale is just now coming back to life and we’ll soon be harvesting tender spring greens.
If you garden with raised beds, don’t let them go dormant over the winter! Sprinkle a packet of spinach or kale seed in them in late September, and in early November, cover the baby plants with a thick layer of straw. Come spring you’ll find your seedlings have indeed survived and will resume their growth into tender early spring greens! It works.
With the last average day of frost just 8 weeks away (May 15th-ish for northern Idaho), it’s time to start the tomato seeds indoors. I vowed not to start as many tomato seeds this year, but, well, um, that just not going to happen! A count of the seed packets reveals 18 varieties — so many favorites — so little space!
Starting seeds indoors is an easy and inexpensive way to get a jump on the garden season. I’ve had great success with tomatoes, peppers and basil. Most hardware or home stores carry seed starting kits, but you can also do really well those plastic containers that lettuce and spinach are sold in.
If you not sure you want to turn your house into an indoor farm, start small with a container or two of basil. You’ll have a garden full for the price of one plant. I’ll share my tomato list and seed starting tips in the next post.
What are you starting from seed this year?