Our Mission

To live a self-sufficient and organic lifestyle for the next half century. With the Grace of God and the power of prayer, we will succeed. Nothing is impossible with His help. It wouldn't be us without laughter and joy at the Cockeyed Homestead.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Weather Dilemma: Starting Seeds

Yes, I know it's  still February 
It's been a crazy winter weather wise this year. Part if me wants to go ahead and start my early spring seeds, but another, sager, part says hold off for two weeks because winter is far from over. Our last frost date is in April.

I like to plant English peas, potatoes, and assorted cool weather crops in the ground by Easter, April 12th. Which means I should go ahead and sow transplants now. But experience has taught me, in the NE GA mountains, that a hard freeze with snow lasting several days will occur around the end of April and the beginning of May.

That's for a normal year. But this winter has been far from normal. We've had a few freezing cold days and nights, and only seen snow flurries a handful of times this winter. It actually snowed yesterday for the first time. Total accumulation was predicted at 2", but here on the homestead we got 8"! With the highs today being in the 50s again, it'll melt and it will turn to ice by morning, but even this is different than previous years when there was snow on the ground and ice everywhere. It's been too warm. Nights may be in the 20s, but the daytime highs have been in the 50s or more. It's almost like I'm living on the east GA coast again. The insect population is going to be horrible this year with not enough freezing weather to kill them off. For organic or chemical-free gardeners like us, this is bad news. It's going to be a constant battle against them to get a decent harvest.

Do I chance it? I may delay starting my seeds inside another week. Just to be safe. I can always start making the starter plugs of "soil" this week. These transplant plugs will be inserted into larger soil blocks after their first true leaves emerge. After all, there's no real nutrition available in seed starting mix and once the true leaves form, they'll need the compost boost to grow into healthy plants/ transplants. I'll not only be starting vegetables, but bug deterrent flowers and herbs. Think several hundred plugs/transplants. I'm planting for a year's worth of harvest and self-sufficiency.

This is the main difference between my ideal garden and Mel's. Mel's garden is strictly fresh eating ig we get anything. While I have nothing against this type of gardening, but I believe in planting enough plants and staggered plantings to do both. So while she will start a dozen or so seeds, I'll start 30-50. I may not plant all fifty, but choose the healthiest plants of the bunch for our main vegetable patch.

The not so robust transplants won't go to waste, They'll find homes in other areas like among flower beds and new planting areas. They may not produce as well as those planted in the main garden, but they'll do their job of breaking up and feeding the soil for the next planting season. You might have guessed that I don't follow recommended guidelines for plant spacing either. I'll companion plant the dickens out of the space I have. With so little space available to grow vegetables in (about 1/8th of an acre), I have to to get the harvest I need. I cut the standard spacing by half. But in planting this way, I'm able to grow more with less.

For example, when I plant my potato barrels, I'll grow dill in the same pot. The dill deters potato bugs. In my asparagus patch I'll grow parsley and beans or peas for a complete ecosystem. I can harvest three times as much from the same space, but there is another reason for companion planting this way. Asparagus is a perennial root. They are also heavy nitrogen feeders. Parsley deters asparagus beetles. So the beans and peas feed the asparagus. The parsley provides ground cover, works an insecticide, and provides us with plenty of herbs. Parsley is also self sowing so you plant it once and it keeps coming back year after year. So after I cut a few stalks this year, I'll sow a packet of parsley seeds to fill in bare patches and plant my green beans or peas between the stalks. It also cuts down on weeds I have to pull. I'd say it's a win-win scenario.

So my dilemma is solved. I'll sow my seeds indoors next week.

Y'all have a blessed day!
Cockeyed Jo

2 comments:

  1. If you're starting spring garden seeds next week, then I probably better get started on mine too! We got spoiled with that mild spell, but now it's so cold that it's taken away my outdoor enthusiasm. We only got 4 inches of snow though. Still not melted, but rain is on the way. Great post!

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