More Seed Starting and Winter Weather

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Nebraska is known for its four seasons, which are very distinctive and last about three months. When I start tiring of one season, the weather changes to the next season. And then there are times when we get them all in one week!

Monday it was in the 50s, which was nice spring weather. Tuesday and Wednesday it was a record-breaking 70, feeling like beginning of summer. By Thursday we were back down in the lower 40s and 30s at night, which would be a nice fall temperature. On Friday, there were blizzard conditions all day with about five inches of wet, drifting snow … Yeah, back to Nebraska winter. It was definitely a wild week. The tulips, daffodils, and hyacinth are brave, tough plants that, even at four inches high, survived the winter blast just fine. I’ve even had a blanket of snow cover them up during their blooming season and it hasn’t harmed a single petal of their blossoming.

Springtime is my favorite time of the year. Seeds are starting to grow, robins are returning by the flock, and garden projects to work on before planting begins dance through my mind all the day and night long. It’s a fun time of the year when all garden plans are completely uncomplicated; all garden beds are weed free; seedlings are strong and healthy; and the best thing is there are no bugs.

The onions and cabbages that were planted last post jumped out of the seed pods in three days and are on their way to maturity. Here they are about two weeks after life began:

You can’t see the onions too well just yet, but they are only two weeks old. The cabbages have been taken from their first homes and transplanted into tubes as well. The cabbages always get a little leggy when first started. I simply transplant them when they get a nice set of leaves and bury the leggy stem up to the leaves. They become really strong and stout after that. So I ended up with 25 cabbages and 64 onions. Both the onions and the cabbages will get one more transplant before going out in to the real world; in about three to four weeks, they will be put into 16-ounce drinking cups. Each transplant means new, fresh potting mix, which gives them a good boost. When they go out into the garden they will get the benefit of the last potting mix, as the hole is made big enough to put all of the mix and the plant into the ground. The mix has extra perlite to help retain moisture, which helps the plants during the dry summer months.

After three days on the heat mat, the 2017 lettuce crop is on the way to becoming a homegrown, lunch-plate, special-of-the-day salad. These will soon be transplanted as well. I believe the key to good, strong plants is in the transplanting. This tray has 72 plants looking good.

The heat mat now has marigolds, which are just finishing up Day One. In two more days they, too, will go under the grow lights. I haven’t decided what will be the next thing on the heat mat to get started, but there’s room for three more 72-seed cell trays so perhaps some other brassicas. That space won’t be idle for long. In another two to three weeks, the tomatoes, green peppers, and eggplants will go on the heat mat.

Oh, how I love this time of the year! What do you have growing on the heat mat, under the grow lights, or in the garden?

Have a great week soaking up the Vitamin D sunshine!

Nebraska Dave,
Urban Farmer