Cole Crops - When to start?

Ferry_Tavern(z5b MA)February 21, 2004

I'm confused about cole crops. I know they like cool weather, but do I really need to wait until April to start seeds indoors (z5b)? I have a cellar with grow lights as well as an enclosed porch with a Southern exposure. I suppose these would be too cold for seedlings such as tomatoes, but wouldn't cole crops do well in this environment? I'm thinking of planting some flats this weekend. I'd love to hear your opinions on this! Thanks, Shelley

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faithling(z4 VT)

All plants like warm temperatures to germinate so start your seeds someplace warm. You should move them to a cooler place once they're up. The cellar with grow lights should be a good place to grow most seedlings. Even tomatoes came benefit from growing in the cellar-- they can get leggy if the room they're growing in is too warm.

While cole crops are cold hardy, you don't want to stress-out seedlings so don't leave them in an unheated porch if temps drop below freezing. Cole crops can handle freezing once they're in the ground and established but aren't happy getting frozen when they're just starting.

You certainly can start seedlings this week but think about what you're going to plant outside and when you want to harvest before deciding what to plant now. For instance, if you plant cabbages now, they'll ripen in mid-summer instead in fall. If you plant tomatoes now the plants may get really huge before its warm enough to plant them outside.

The plants I start indoors in February are: eggplants and peppers because they grow so slow (not like tomatoes!); celeriac and leeks because they require a really long growing season; and cold hardy greens for planting in the hoop-house when the ground thaws in March.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   February 22, 2004 at 11:46PM
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I have had wonderful success using winter seed sowing in milk jugs for my cole crops. You can start now. I know I'm not in your zone, but mine are already sprouted and will grow nicely, slowly in their milk jug until I can put them out. They are more healthy and cold hardy when raised this way. Also, for me at least, the rain the comes in through the pour hole and the transpiration holes I made make watering MUCH easier than starting indoors. I only water if we have many warm sunny days and then only if I see the soil isn't as heavy. Go over to the Winter sowing forum and read the facts. Good Luck.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2004 at 9:44AM
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It certainly won't hurt to winter sow...

Or you can check with your state's Extension Service. Each county has it's own Cooperative Extension Office which provides free publications and information for the asking.

The following two images are excerpts from the Vegetable Planting and Planning Calendar for Missouri complete with spring and fall planting dates, how much to plant per person, etc. Just call up the office in your county. Look under the "Government" section (usually blue pages) of your phone book under "Extension". They will have valuable vegetable/gardening tables available specifically for your area from data they've collected from growing those crops in your state.


    Bookmark   February 23, 2004 at 4:54PM
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