I have a small cold frame in the garden, 3′ x 6′ (1 m x 2 m), that I wintered kale over in. On the day before the full moon I pulled out half of it and planted spinach, cilantro and radish. I know the spinach will grow and 90% sure I will get the others. When we finish eating the kale I picked I will pull out the rest and plant more spinach.
Although a bit of the surface was still frozen in the bed I am going to plant peas and early vegetables in the 2″ (.05m) of black compost I had spread over it last fall absorbed solar energy and the snow cover most of the winter had helped to keep it from freezing deep.
We have been pouring compost into my garden beds for 17 years and they are getting better tilth, looser so we were able to use a broad fork and poke it. A rototiller is more of a secondary tillage tool, and it only goes 5-6″ deep (.15m). In wet soil it destroys the soil structure and turns it into brick. My broad fork goes to 10″ (.25m) with minimal disturbance to soil structure. You use your weight to sink it in then lean back and forth to stir the lower strata of the soil leaving channels for roots to follow.
After poking it I covered the bed with black plastic. This will be removed in a couple of weeks and I will plant my peas. It will still be too early for beets, carrots, radish, kohlrabi, fava beans and lettuce but all in due time.
I do have some more more low cold frames that were old windows still with their frames. They aren’t big enough to grow lettuce on in but has about 5 inches (.12m) for them to grow and by that time it will be warmer out and floating row cover will provide it sufficient protection.
Vidya used to do our early indoor starts on a table next to a large window in our dining room but this year we lent the germination pad and domes to Rafael. He is going to do the Deity flower garden this year and has some slow germinating seed to get started. The green house at the Palace starts up the end of March and the bulk of seeds including marigolds will be started there but some can’t wait, they need now.
So he started them plus peppers and the early tomatoes for us. Peppers are slow so you have to start them early. I also do an early tomato that we grow on into pots so they are decent size when I put them out May 1st, a week before our average last frost and 2 weeks before the safe day normally slated for setting out tomato starts.
I set the early ones out under cloches made of office water cooler bottles with the bottoms cut out. The main crop of tomatoes also goes out May 1st under milk jugs with the bottom cut out.
This year I am growing two varieties of early tomato. One, Stupice, is known to work as we had tomatoes before the Fourth of July last summer. The other we are experimenting with is Sungold. Last year I jumped though all the hoops to get a ripe Stupice and 10 days later the Sungolds with conventional treatment were ripe. So this year we are going to try Sungolds with early treatment and see if they equal the Stupice.
Which if they do it is goodbye Stupice, It is a nice tomato with good shape and color and decent taste but my wife is always on me to simplify my life and grow less varieties and I already similar tomatoes in Celebrity and Rutgers so it will become redundant.
While I have always been influenced by soil conditions and availability of time as the major factors influencing when I plant, Rafael is a bit more idealistic and wants to plant by the moon so I am going along. The broad stroke is plant things that produce above ground on the waxing moon and things that produce below ground on the waning moon so we are abiding by that.
In this case the pea ground needs a couple of weeks under the black plastic so it works out and earlier planting of peas doesn’t bring a crop in quicker it is more about getting the work out of the way in a less busy time.