It’s Still March, Right?

Well Happy Spring!

I don’t know where this month has gone, but things are really starting to take shape around here.  The chicks are growing by leaps and wing spans, and their coop is just about ready for them.  Which is good, because they are definitely ready for some more space, as well as proper roosts and bigger feeders.  The raised beds are halfway there–4 of the 8 beds are done and just need soil and manure before I can plant in them, and the other 4 will be ready soon.  My peas are in the ground, along with some crimson fava beans.  And I have sown a bit of ground cover (rye and clover) on some bare patches where the chickens will be scratching in a month or so.

I’m nervously watching the calendar, though, because the list of veggies, flowers, and herbs that need to be started in March is long!  I got to the onions, leeks, and parsley in February, and I managed to start some lettuce and spinach seeds a couple of weeks ago as well.  But the bulk of the seeding needs to be done this week: broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, tomatoes, peppers, basil…  I did get a bit of fennel started today too.  And I know all of these should have/could have been started a few weeks ago!  I’ll be regretting that I wasn’t off the ball more quickly when the good weather (does such a thing exist?) really gets going soon…  But this year is so much about building infrastructure that I’m not beating myself up about staying perfectly on top of the planting.

On the potato front, I went a little crazy with my seed potato ordering. :0  I ordered my potatoes from W and A Farms in Richmond, and I was dazzled by their selection.  I wanted lots of the really early potatoes to plant, and I wasn’t happy with the flavour of the Warbas we tried last year.  So I put in a special order for Carlitas, another “first early”.  Then we were at Canadian Tire a few weeks back, and they had boxes of early Purple Caribe potatoes, so we ended up with a couple of boxes of those too.  Then my Carlitas arrived in a GIANT 10kg/ 22lb bag whose label told me there was enough here to plant 44 row feet!  Yep.  My math leaves a lot to be desired when I’m asked questions on the spot.  I have about 25 row feet TOTAL for early potatoes.  I’m going to try to give some to the neighbours…

For main crop, I’ve also got some Russian Blue and Kennebecs, and depending on space, I may try to fit some Norlands in too.  By the time those need to go in the ground, the beds will be ready and I’ll have a better idea of my space.

Despite my fears about getting everything done in March (you know, before April’s list starts!), I had an interesting conversation with the farmer from W and A when I placed my order.  I asked when they might be delivering their spuds, and she said that they were at least a week, possibly 2, behind schedule because of the weather.  We’ve had an unseasonably cold February and March in this area.  But she also commented that our growing season seems to be getting shorter and shorter.  Carolyn Herriot made the same observation–she now starts most, if not all, of her veggies as seedlings in cold frames and greenhouses because spring weather is becoming so unpredictable and because our Junes are also so often inhospitable.  Greenhouse seedlings mean that when the warm weather finally hits, the seedlings are ready on schedule.  Otherwise, many crops that used to do well here could be a challenge.  Herriot also mentions that she’s now only growing tomatoes in pots; she just doesn’t get the crop she wants otherwise.  This all means that so far, starting plants a little later than the earliest dates recommended might be smart.  You know, instead of just late!

I’m still learning about my microclimate here, so I don’t have any sense of how I might need to adapt my practices yet.  But it’s interesting to hear the comments from gardeners with decades of local experience that the weather is markably changing.

The chicks will be in their new digs later this week, if all goes according to plan, and the raised beds should be done shortly too–many pics to come!


4 thoughts on “It’s Still March, Right?

  1. I sure don’t have a lot of experience – this will be my third growing year. So I can’t comment on changing weather patterns. But one thing I have learned is it doesn’t pay to push things by planting early. In both previous years I have had reason to plant a second batch of different vegetables (tomatoes, squash, peas) a couple of weeks after an initial seeding, and the second batch caught up quickly and seemed to do better. So this year I’m holding off on a few things. We’ll see if it makes any difference – all I can say is it’s really, really hard to be patient!

    1. Miriam, I appreciate hearing your conclusions. I really noticed with last year’s tomato year that my toms started mid-April seemed on par for ripening with those started by others much earlier. But I’m really hoping to do my own trials here in the years to come–and as the weather is so unpredictable, over-planting more often seems like a good idea. Although when juggling with planting with everything else, I must say many of my good ideas don’t get acted on as they should!

  2. I’m definitely feeling behind already! I’ve got a bunch of stuff under grow lights and no room for more, but it is about time to start the curcurbits.

    I also just planted my potatoes, but am only growing one variety this year, La Ratte.

    Hopefully the weather will perk up soon.

  3. Sandy, I’ll look forward to hearing how those potatoes are–I’ve never heard of that variety! And my goodness, curcubits! I hadn’t thought I could start those so early, but last year I planted much too late, so I’ll take another look at the calendar. Our soil didn’t warm up until late June last year, of course! Good luck with the seedling shuffle 🙂 .

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