Spring Cool Crops Sowing

seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)January 5, 2014

Hi there fellow PNWerners.

I garden in north of Seattle, Redmond area.
I was checking some of my seeds packets to see when I can sow them. (I am new to gardening here). Some of them on the package says you can start sowing from JAN to APR. Those are lettuce, peas and few other things.

Now I want to know when do you locals start you spring cool crops and what is the best time, what are the dangers and benefits.

BTW: I have also have a cold frame to use.

I look forward to reading your comments.

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hemnancy(z8 PNW)

Let's say you want to go pick some greens outdoors soon. I'm not that good at starting things at this time, but the kale, collards, turnips, and winter radishes that I started last summer by July 15, and that gave me greens in the late summer and fall, will start making new greens soon, leading up to making flower buds that I harvest like broccoli, then I eventually let them go to seed, the bees love the yellow flowers.

Maybe someone else starts early vegetables now. It will probably be like March before I try to plant peas and fava beans.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2014 at 4:08AM
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steff442(8b Portland OR)

Welp, I can tell you that there is a saying in Portland: Plant peas by presidents day.

Average last frost for my area is March 15th, I think. So I usually look at the seed packet and calculate from there. I think the cool crops can usually be sown 2 or 3 weeks before last frost.

I have always been a wuss about planting out too early, though. Right now I am starting some lettuce and spinach seed in the windowsill, and will probably go ahead and start hardening off after I plant my peas....on President's day. But, knowing me, I will probably use the cold frame until around March, which may not even be necessary.

So, find out your average last frost date, and try not to be a scaredey-cat (like I am) about planting out in the cold. If it worries you too much, then you can always start half indoors and half out, right?

    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 8:41AM
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oliveoyl3

Plant early, but it's a gamble:
I was able to plant before Valentine's Day in 2010 because we made raised beds using Sq.Ft Gardening soil mix in 2009. The weather had been nice previously in January, so it was easy to prepare the beds & another days of good weather in early Feb, so I went ahead. Late Feb wasn't so nice, so some seeds rotted in cold soil, but others sprouted fine.

Our daughter lives in the Kent Valley & plants much earlier than us in the foothills. She has large pots on a concrete patio that are warmer, so can plant peas around a tomato cage & have pods showing in late April. Amazing microclimate difference!

Try multiple plantings 2 weeks apart. One of them surely will sprout & grow. Then use the other failed planting areas for other vegetables without turning the soil -- just poke or sprinkle & plant.

Better yet...

Check the soil temp 1st (see the link below) I use a digital therm inside a baggie. They're less than $10 at a business center Costco in the restaurant supply bins.

Speed things up by presprouting peas:
Use the top of your refrigerator as your warm spot. Marianne Binetti suggests inside a folded dishcloth, but we use a large square of old tshirt. Just be sure to not delay in getting them out when sprouted since they grow fast & tangle easily. When my kids were young they liked presprouting because they could see the sprouting tail. I had to encourage them once they see it to get it outside. When we waited we broke off a lot of the sprouts when attempting to separate.

Prewarm planting area:
Use your cold frame as long as you can remove it when the peas take off. They won't want the heat on warmer spring days. Other ideas would be covered PVC or bamboo hoops, old window supported on sides by bricks or blocks, or even easier upside down clear plastic tote propped up on one side with 2 sticks in the corners.

Protect the area after planting
Try laying out upturned plastic flats or plastic netting. Squirrels, crows, or even neighbor cats will disturb the freshly prepared soil.If you're preparing a large area & only planting part of it -- cover the entire thing with the flats or supported plastic netting.

Ann Lovejoy suggested that in a book & it worked well with empty water bottles over sticks then the netting on top. She also suggested orange peels as a cat deterrent, so we decorated our soil so to speak because we had a neighbor cat that insisted on using my nice raised beds as a toilet especially after I turned over the mulch. When I stopped turning the soil the cat stopped digging, but still soiled right on top even on burlap bags as mulch. I like cats, so when it kept coming back even when I scared it off or sprayed it with a water bottle I was glad to discover the netting trick. Fortunately, they moved away.

Hope that helps,
Corrine

Here is a link that might be useful: temp hits 40, plant peas

    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 10:40AM
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briergardener_gw

You can start planting in cold frame now, you can outside as well if you have raised beds, cover bed with black plastic for several days to warm soil a little bit, plant seeds and use some kind of protection.
Read book "Year-round vegetable gardener" by Niki Jabbour.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2014 at 10:25AM
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plantslayer(8)

You can definitely plant snow peas now, if you protect with clear plastic. You don't need an elaborate setup, just put up whatever stakes you are going to build support on, plant the peas in rows on either side according to whatever good practice you follow, and drape some clear plastic over the support so that the plantings are protected but not smothered. Weigh the plastic down at the edges of course.

If you don't mind using slug bait, put some sluggo next to the plantings as well. Some people don't like the idea using what is basically a kind of pesticide, but even OMRI considers this stuff "organic". Slugs are the number 2 problem around here after the weather, they can utterly annihilate a row a new plantings, so be ready for them.

If you think a cold frame is too much trouble, you can also probably get some lettuce and brassicas started directly in the ground now by simply using clear plastic containers as cloches. You can get cake holder lids at the dollar store at 1$ each, or save some stuff from daily use, such as the plastic domes that go on top of supermarket roast chicken. ;) The cloche protects from slugs as well, and if you spring a bit of sluggo inside, those plantings are pretty much invulnerable to the nasty critters.

The February weather here is usually just cool enough that planting stuff exposed does not work, but a simple plastic cloche makes all the difference. I suppose a freak frost could still wipe your stuff out, but gardening is always a bit of a gamble, and the odds will be in your favor if you use a little bit of protection.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 7:53PM
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JunePerry(7)

I planted a small group of pre-sprouted snow peas in my raised beds yesterday. They were pre-sprouted by laying on damp paper towels and then placed in a sandwich baggie.

I will probably cover that bed with some heavy duty remay for a couple of weeks since we're expecting below freezing temperatures later this week and my various thicknesses of remay have been great to extend my garden both spring and winter.

We've had unusually cold temperatures this winter, far lower than normal for the Rogue Valley and our zone, so planting this winter and spring is going to be interesting. I'm just happy I have all this remay on hand.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2014 at 11:53PM
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briergardener_gw

One year I have planted some peas early (with light protection) and some later. They gave me crop at the same time. Maybe my protection was not heavy enough or weather was too bad, but I am not sure if it worse to plant earlier.
I have planted radishes in unheated small GH and they are not growing, too cold.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2014 at 1:05PM
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