From the green lawn, where a neighbor was actually out mowing the grass; to the trees, which look like they are ready to just explode with blossoms, leaves, and seed pods.
What’s Growing in the Garden?
The chive plants are coming up and I even noticed a large sage herb plant that is full of leaves and looks more like it spent the winter in Florida rather than in a frozen backyard garden. That fall planted gourmet garlic is growing well, along with the shallots, multiplier onions, and ornamental alliums.
Sadly, it looks like none of the globe artichokes or cardoon survived the winter, which isn’t surprising, but disappointing none the less. On a happier note there are several Swiss Chard plants that came through just fine and are sending up colorful new leaves.
The horseradishes have also begun sending up frilly leaves that disclose the exact locations of the thick, fiery roots which are waiting to be harvested. The crowns of red rhubarb plants are displaying whorls of tiny leaves that will rapidly grow to enormous sizes.
There are plenty of fall planted kale and collard greens that over wintered nicely and will offer an abundant harvest of spring greens by the middle of this month. These plants will keep producing greens well into May before concluding with a bounty of delicious edible seed stalks that resemble miniature broccoli.
Indoor Seedling Production
I’ve started some plants from seed that are growing comfortably indoors, under a set of grow lights. These seedlings are about two inches tall and include more kale and collards, Swiss Chard, oriental greens, red celery, fennel, and about ten different varieties of heirloom lettuce.
Tomato, pepper, and eggplant seeds were recently planted in seedling trays and covered with humidity domes, but have yet to germinate. There’s still a lot more that I plan to start indoors and transplant outside when the weather fully warms and the threat of frost has passed, but it’s not too early to begin planting some crops directly into the garden.
Local greenhouses and garden centers are currently offering hardy vegetable transplants that can be safely planted outdoors here in our Zone 6 growing region. The frost tolerant plants that I noticed for sale included: broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kohlrabi, lettuce, onions, and leeks.
Surprises at the Local Plant Outlet
For the most part the vegetable starts were hybrids and the typical commercial varieties that you normally find, which is one good reason to grow your own, but there were a couple of surprises. One nursery offered an heirloom cabbage called Early Jersey Wakefield that just happens to be one of my favorite cabbage varieties.
The other very pleasant surprise was to find a local garden center selling globe artichoke seedlings. After discovering that my artichokes failed to survive the winter I had given up on the thought of growing them this season because it’s pretty late to start artichoke from seeds and they have a spring chilling requirement in order to produce buds.
Of course I couldn’t resist picking up a few of these healthy looking globe artichoke plants and rushed right home to get them set in the garden just before a perfectly timed rainfall. I also planted some broccoli and lettuce transplants and sowed seed for parsnips and black salsify.
The Reality of Early Spring in the Garden
It went from rainy and cool yesterday to sunny and warm today, with temperatures reaching into the seventies. But the extended forecast shows highs in the forties and low temperatures well below freezing before the week is over.
So go ahead and sow all the seeds you want indoors, or move a few cold hardy plants out into the garden, but don’t even think about doing anything crazy like setting out your tomato transplants or putting away the snow blower!
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