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Mid-February what to plant now

February 15, 2018

This was going to be a post about how it's not spring yet. But then, in the garden of a Capitol Hill home, I saw...

 

Snowdrops! These are among the earliest flowers to bloom in the spring from bulbs planted in the fall. Other phenological signs of spring are all around us in the new growth of plants. Of course, the most famous indicators of spring in DC are the cherry blossoms. The National Park Service will announce the cherry blossom peak bloom forecast on March 1.

 

So here's my dilemma: is it spring? Reading articles about the extended forecast is making my head spin. Before I get too excited about the coming of spring, I think the best move is to buy a soil thermometer. Then I'll stick to the cold-hardiest vegetables to start. For spring sowing, I prefer varieties that mature in 45 days or less when starting from seed. That way I can harvest before I need the space for summer vegetables. My favorite speedy spring vegetables include leaf lettuces, arugula, mixed spring radishes like 'Easter Egg', Japanese baby turnips, baby beets, baby bok choy, mizuna, komatsuna, Chinese broccoli, and broccoli raab. I prefer to transplant seedlings of collards and 'Dinosaur' kale because they take about 60 days to mature when started from seed, so I want to give them a head start. Celery, cabbage, cauliflower, and "regular" broccoli can take even longer to mature, so I don't plant them.

 

If you'd like to start some vegetables indoors in a sunny windowsill or under growlight, now is also the time for starting tomatoes, tomatillos, sweet and hot peppers, and eggplants. The process of getting these seedlings established takes about 8 weeks, so you want to get them started indoors no later than mid-March for mid-May planting. Personally, I don't bother because I only plant a few of these veggies. If I was planting on a larger scale, then starting from seed would make sense. Last summer, I grew only 6 cherry tomato plants and 4 hot pepper plants, all different varieties, so it made the most sense economically to purchase seedlings instead of seeds. When it comes time to plant summer vegetables outside, I'll make that announcement.

 

Stay tuned. I'll post more about what I'm planting for spring as it happens.

 

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