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.

6 comments on “Starts

  1. Bob Braxton says:

    weather – my father (born 1916) used the old Farmer’s almanac – he said further south of here – 10th of May leaves “full grown” ended risk of hard frost (NC, piedmont)


  2. Bill says:

    My Grandpa used the Farmer’s Alamanac too, and did a lot of his farming “by the signs.” Whereas I have certain target dates for activities, he would do them “when the dogwoods bloom” or when the oak leaves are as wide as your hand, etc. A lot of farming in those days was done by moon signs too. Turnip greens are supposed to planted on the first full moon in August. The moon also determines when hogs should be slaughtered, but I can’t remember the rule. There were probably dozens if not hundreds of them. A lot of wisdom has been lost as we got smarter.

    As for the average last frost dates, they keep moving up as it gets warmer earlier each year. The growing seasons have changed significantly just in the time I’ve been farming and are way different from the dates the old-timers remember.


  3. What an interesting observation you’ve made with the significant changes just since you started farming… it doesn’t take multi-million dollar studies to see what’s happening to our planet, just ask the farmers.


    • Bill says:

      Sometimes I shake my head when I hear folks who never leave conditioned air going off about weather and climate. I’m satisfied to talk to farmers.


  4. shoreacres says:

    When you’ve got an extra ten minutes, you might like to evaluate Skyepony’s blog over at Weather Underground. She’s in Florida but has a farm up near your area – I think northern NC. She’s a little “out there” in some ways, but she’s a wealth of information on gardening, the Farmer’s Almanac, when to do this or that – you’ll see.

    She home schools her kids and is active in the ag community. She knows her weather and I think might be a chemist by training. Monsanto is Her Enemy. 😉


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