Early Spring is the most difficult time for gardening here. I remember reading that in the past it was this time of year that was called “the starving time.” Even though Spring was dawning, the first produce of the season was still weeks away and often all of the previous Fall’s root crops were gone or had rotted. I can only imagine how painful it must have been to see starvation, with abundance so near.
We have a good, long growing season here, allowing us to produce an abundance of food without the use of greenhouses, coldframes and other season-extending methods. A few years ago I quit bothering trying to coax crops of lettuce, broccoli and cauliflower in the Spring. It always seemed to be too wet to plant early enough to get the plants mature before the summer heat caused them to bolt and turn bitter.
But because of our CSA (and because I want to offer our members as much variety as I reasonably can), the last couple of years I’ve been trying to get some veggies in along with our asparagus in April. It’s a challenge.
This year we’ve converted my son’s old room into a mini-nursery and we’ve started lots of stuff we hope to transplant as soon as the ground is dry enough–lettuce, cabbage, chinese cabbage, broccoli, kale, swiss chard, etc. We also have collards, broccoli, chard and cabbage starting to pop up in the cold frames. But I confess that starting transplants is not something I feel confident doing. This year everything we started inside germinated quickly and much better than expected. But the seedlings are leggy and I worry they won’t transplant well. We’ll see.
In a week or so we’ll start our tomatoes, peppers and eggplant–weather permitting. Hopefully by then we’ll already have begun our direct seeding. We’ve planned over a hundred varieties and I’m excited to see how the season goes.
I know we’ll be awash in wonderful food in May. But April? The jury’s still out.