Monday, April 1, 2013

Ice is Gone, Lettuce is Up!

I know I've raved about them before, but y'all are going to get another dose today.
My cold frames are in a new location this spring. I shifted them at the beginning of winter last year. In one of them, I shook a stalk of lettuce seed over it before I closed it up for winter.  I was rewarded this weekend when I took the top off and found a nice crop of 2 inch high lettuce growing vigorously.
The rest of my garden is basically still ice-locked. But those cold frames are just enough protection that early starts to lettuce and spinach thrive. We opened all of them up for an overnight dousing with 40 degree spring rain on Saturday, then closed them up again.

Rowen and I did manage to get some peas and radish seeds sown.  The SE corner of the main bed had a nice covering of mulch on it, so we were able to get down a couple of inches with the hoe, and that was enough to get those seeds in. They won't mind icy toes, and they won't mind the 1/2 inch of ice/snow we got last night. Both the soil and the last flurry of winter will be melted by this weekend, and that's the soonest those seeds could be sprouted and looking to send down roots. The melting ice will give them some moisture, which we're still a little behind on.
It's hard to believe last year on this day we set a record high when we hit 92 degrees. 

That's the other great thing about cold frames. They take a lot of the guess work out of early spring planting. Namely, the first stuff up is planted in winter, and the seeds figure out a sprouting time all on their own. This obviously only works with seed that will survive the winter's cold. The cold frame is solar based, and come mid-winter there just isn't much solar power to be had. But, I have a variety of lettuce that is hardy enough it has seeded itself in our lawn, so it works well for this application.

It's quite likely that this early crop of lettuce will be ready before the Farmers Market is open for the season. I'll probably have a couple of crops of spring stuff before the Farmer Market opens in Mid-June.  (Note to self, the Sioux City market opens on May 8th, why does ours open so late? Can I petition for an earlier start?)  Some of it we'll eat. We're always hungry for fresh greens by the time the first lettuce crop is ready. Some of it though... I'll have to find creative ways to sell it if I can't petition for an earlier start to the Farmers Market.
I could maybe bring a box into work and sell to co-workers. I'd have to check with a few people before doing that, but it's possible they'd ok it, we've been on a healthy kick at work lately. I could be a rebel and just have a one-woman farmers market, and open the market early whether the city likes it or not. (Our market is in a lightly used public parking lot.)  I could go even further down the rebel path and put up a table in my front lawn next to the sidewalk and advertise the veggies there. ("Free Veggies, plus suggested tip" might get me around zoning laws.) Further pondering: If girls scouts can sell cookies door to door, could I sell lettuce door to door?  10 year olds probably don't need the profit margin that I do, but it's a thought.

Well, that's all for now.  Spring continues its relentless march. My first year as a market grower is off to a good start. (Of course the start is the easiest part....)


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