kawaiineko_gardener(5a)November 29, 2010

I know that cold weather vegetables like cold weather

(they grow better in it, more likely to germinate in it,

taste better in it, etc.). However I know that even cold weather

vegetables have their limits; some are more hardy than others.

The more "tender" cool weather veggies (less hardy) will

die if planted in weather that is too cold.

Recently I was thumbing through a seed catalog.

According to the description of some of the vegetable

seeds, some varieties are "exceptionally tolerant of cold weather".

When gives instructions with how to grow these varieties, it says

that "they can be planted in early spring".

However what constitutes as early spring in northern Michigan?

(I live in the upper part of the lower peninsula). Also in comparison to

temperatures in "normal spring" (which where I live doesn't start until

about May, and that's if the winter has been mild) "mid spring" and

"late spring" what is the difference in temperature ranges with each

"season" of spring and in comparison to "early spring"?

I'd like to plant the cool weather vegetables that are hardier as early as

possible, however I don't know how early I can do that (as in when there

is still snow on the ground and the seeds will germinate and the plants

will survive). I'd basically like to be able to plant them as early as

possible without killing what I'm planting; they will be direct sown outside.

Also I know people will probably (this is preemptive, not trying to make assumptions,

sorry if it comes off that way as it's not my intent) suggest using floating rows/

row covers, cold frames, greenhouses, etc. I have limited space and in

addition I will be doing container gardening. As a result, I don't know if

it would even be feasible to use row covers. About the only thing that

would be a "for-sure" possibility would be bottle cloches (pop bottles with vents cut

in the sides for ventilation-essentially mini greenhouses).

Below is a list of the varieties I found in the catalog, that, according to the description

(as stated above, not trying to be reptitive, just clarifying) are very tolerant of

cold weather and I'm assuming are hardy as a result.

~NOTE: This isn't a "generic" seed catalog. To my knowledge, the seeds in the catalog

are bred and designed specifically for short climates that are cold (a.k.a. Northern climates).

Also some of the vegetables I'm not that familiar with (with cooking, eating, and growing; I know

a little bit about them, but don't really know how to grow them, as I don't have experience

with doing so, because I've never grown them before). I have included the names of

the seed varieties according to the catalog, as well as what type of vegetable it is.

Windsor (Fava Bean, also known as broad bean; in regards to growing it, it doesn't like hot weather;

the catalog says it prefers a cool climate; don't know too much about it.) It doesn't say that

it's exceptionally cold tolerant, but the reason I'm including it is because it prefers a cold

climate; don't know if this means it can be grown in early spring.

Spring Raab (Broccoli Raab; again don't know too much about it, I just know it's sort of

similar to broccoli and commonly used in Italian cuisine; know nothing about growing it).

I don't know if it's feasible to grow this in early spring weather; I just included it because it

says "spring raab" and although I know nothing about growing it, I do know it grows

best in cold weather.

Arcadia, F1 (Broccoli)

Alcosa (Savoy Cabbage; "mini" heads in comparison to other traditional varieties

of cabbage)

Napoli (early maturing variety of carrot)

230 Snow Crown F1 (Cauliflower; yes I know traditionally cauliflower isn't

considered a "hardy" winter veggie, at least so I've heard; however this variety according to

the catalog has been bred for "very cold temperatures")

Clodia (Endive; not too familiar with it; just know that according to the catalog,

this variety is ideal for use in salads; I know it's a European green that's

also known as Chicory)

Clio (Dandelion green; not too familiar with it, know nothing about growing it;

a mildly bitter green common in European culture, particularly Italy)

Chioggia Red Preco No.1 (Raddichio; know it's common in salads in Europe,

and also common in mesclun [salad greens mixture] )

512 Kyona Mizuna (Japanese green with fringed, lace-like leaves)

388 Claytonia (also known as miner's lettuce; leafy green thing

common in salads)

305 Starbor F1 (early-maturing variety of kale)

2190 Top Bunch F1 (early-maturing variety of collard greens)

419 Vit (Mache also known as lamb's lettuce and corn salad;

a leafy green thing common in Europe; commonly used

in mesclun [salad green mixtures) and salads)

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I am also from Michigan. I live in Marysville. Just south of Port Huron.
My answers and questions come from experience not from being an expert or a botanist.
Let me start out by saying that a Hard frost can kill anything you plant as an annual in your vegetable garden regardless of how it is described on the seed packet or catalog.
I will presume to give you a rundown of the types of things and dates i would plant if I were You. You said you would be container gardening. I am also going to assume that you will give them enough space according to each ones needs
Those items in the cole family , cabbage , cauliflower mustard greens , etc. can tolerate cool but not freezing temps as a young plant.I would start them indoors on March 15 . Give them sunshine for 3 weeks. Assuming they are growing well transplant into 12 ounce styrofoam cups. Begin hardening them off outside for acouple of weeks. if you have a mobile cart you can roll them into a garage or shed all the better. In any case they will need protection at night.This will bring you to about april 22 .Trans plant them to permanent containers at this time. Keep them in a southern exposure.Be prepared to cover or remove to a sheltered area if the temps are to drop below 40 degrees. I know 32 is freezing but I do not always trust the weather people. And besides we want to optimize growing conditions.
That was a quick rundown on the Cole or Kohl crops. I would not trust direct seeding them unless you can protct the soil temps in the containers. Later yes , but not before mid May .
Lettuce can be directly sown but not until the weather has settled in may. If you want early head lettuce do the same as for cabbage but wait a couple of weeks.I suppose you could do the same for leaf lettuce if you want it early.
Peas are a crop that can be directly sown early. If the soil is not too wet and about 50 degrees peas will readily germinate out side. Again be prepared to protect but they are truly a cool weather crop.
Potatoes can be planted out side directly in mid April if ground is not too wet . Containers would be great.
Another thought is that sometimes what is confused as a cool weather crop is really a day length and sunshine issue.Lettuce in high sunshine tends to bolt. Heat or Sun?
The dandilion green is is a common lawn weed. The one with the yellow flower. It is definitly hardy even in Northern Michigan. There are many cultivated varieties and I think they are all winter hardy in the North.Picked at the correct stage they are wunderbar and very good for you. The lawn ones are full of all kinds of pesticide junk.
I hope this helps you some. If you would like let me know and I would give you my E-mail address . By the way some of the things you mentioned seemed somewhat exotic for a less experienced cold weather gardener. Why not try some of the more common things at first.Broccoli , cabbage , peas /leaf lettuce.
Just remember that a lot of the catalog verbage is relative. It depends on where they are coming from. Happy gardening Johnny

    Bookmark   December 5, 2010 at 7:44PM
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