I didn’t winter garden this year but instead spent most of January and February in the San Antonio Texas area ( loved the weather!) . By the time February arrived the garden bug tugged at me and I found myself buying seeds. It felt great buying a few packets but if I do this again I’ll take some seeds with me. Jalapeno peppers, chard, basil, lettuce and kale starts were left for my Texas son who also inherited a green thumb. He’ll take good care of them. Now I’m back in Pennsylvania and my lettuce, kale and basil have sprouted. My peppers aren’t up yet and you can wait until April 1st to plant them, but I usually start the seeds in March because of their characteristic slow germination.
Greens are usually the first seeds I plant. They like cool weather, will transplant easily to the greenhouse or garden raised beds and do well. Leaf lettuce sprouts pictured above are Yankee Hardy Blend from High Mowing Seeds. Other varieties of lettuce from High Mowing Seeds that I typically use are:
- DMR Blend which has superior downy mildew resistance, an important consideration for spring, fall and winter gardens or greenhouses. 28 days baby leaf
- Red Oak Leaf forms a nice small head if not cut. 30 days baby, 60 days mature
- Blade lettuce a deep thin red oakleaf resistant to downy mildew, 30 days baby leaf.
- Butterhead or Bibb lettuces such as Roxy and Pirat are favorites too, slower to germinate but very big on taste – mild buttery so tender yet crisp. 30 days baby leaf and 55 or 60 days mature.
- Outredgeous a Romaine type that is very colorful and I use it more as a ‘cut-and-come’ again lettuce.
- Meslun Mix are another choice and one of the fastest to germinate. Baby leaf lettuce combined with tender baby leaf mustard greens are a special treat in a salad.
I like variety in my greens and these are just a few.
Kale greens are a staple for me. I eat them year around and they can be grown all year under the right conditions. They quickly germinate and their rate of growth is phenomenal. I usually pick some of the leaves before the mature date since baby kale is so tender and nutritious. They provide vitamins K and B besides the elements calcium, magnesium, iron and contribute protein to your diet.
- A Tuscan variety Lacinato Rainbow from Wild Garden Seeds I have grown for years. It’s considered a European kale with savoyed leaves.
- Another is Red Ruffled a ruso-siberian kale also from Wild Garden Seeds. Smooth but slightly ruffled at the edges this is a mild tasting kale, almost spinach-like but with more taste and it doesn’t bolt in the summer.The mild taste persists through baby stage to mature plant.
- New this year in the garden for me is Dwarf Green Curled kale. 50 days mature
- I have heard about Darkibor in the greens community and can’t wait to try it. 50 days mature.
- Another is Vates kale which is one of the hardiest winter kales.
All of the sprouts look somewhat alike at this stage but I’ll include photos along the way. I’ve also included links that show the plants at maturity (click on the highlighted words). I think I truly feel alive each spring as I plan and plant a garden. Something about growing rejuvenates me every year. So much promise… Until next time.