when to plant spinach, broccoli raab for earliest spring crop?

dab07November 9, 2008

I read about planting spinach seeds in the fall to get the earliest spring crop, but don't know when to do it. Are they supposed to germinate and come up in the fall? In this case I'd mulch the tiny plants. Will they continue to grow in spring? It's been a mild fall so far, so it might not be too late to start seeds now. Or will the seeds lay dormant and be ready to germinate in spring?

Broccoli raab seeds, if I remember correctly, are supposed to be scattered after the ground freezes. Then they will sprout in early spring, .

Does anyone have experience with either of these?


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In your zone (and mine) I suggest a two pronged approach:

First, start seeds indoors and provide them with a grow light after germination (inexpensive floro shop light is fine).

Second, put seeds in a container with drain holes and let them sit outside regardless of weather (winter sowing).

Use whichever plants do the best, and form healthy transplants the soonest.

As an alternative to what I called wintersowing, sow the seeds directly in the garden during winter. If they sprout in spring then use those. In fact this could be a third method.

The key to getting a good harvest from cool season crops is getting them into their permanent home as early in the season as possible while not exposing them to weather that will kill or injure them. In many areas this is difficult as each year brings different weather.

That is why I recommend not putting all eggs into one basket. Never know what the year will bring.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2008 at 1:58PM
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That's good advice since these crops are more iffy. I can't see doing the indoor approach with spinach, tho. because I grow a lot of plants. I guess I'll try direct seeding some now, some after the ground freezes, then see if either works come spring.

Thanks :0)

    Bookmark   November 9, 2008 at 4:59PM
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Many gardeners sow spinach seed right on frozen ground, and get great germination as soon as the ground thaws. Spinach is super hardy and takes a hard frost well.

I lived in your area (Sullivan County) and had great success sowing in March, sometimes having to pull snow back off the soil. For what it's worth, I had the same results with sweet peas as well!

The Garden Guy

    Bookmark   November 9, 2008 at 5:52PM
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That's great to know! Thanks. What month do you plant the seeds?

    Bookmark   November 9, 2008 at 6:39PM
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I have planted Spinach and Broccoli Raab seeds now, in a cold frame, for harvest in January and February as well as later. Many of the lettuces can also be planted now for harvest during the winter.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2008 at 7:07AM
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Thanks, kimmsr. Unfortunately my cold frame just fell apart!

    Bookmark   November 10, 2008 at 10:41AM
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Believe it or not, I have planted peas during a February thaw and covered them with a few inches of mulch. The germinated the end of March when the ground finally thawed for good and produced the best crop I ever had. I have planted spinach and lettuce the first week in March with equally great results. Give it a shot and I think you will be pleasantly surprised!

The Garden Guy

    Bookmark   November 10, 2008 at 2:44PM
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