Only a week ago all the garden beds were covered with a thick blanket of snow, glazed with a glass-like veneer of ice, but miraculously, after a couple of days, and nights, and days of rain, most of the snow has gone with only a few stubborn fringes remaining. It’s definitely time for action, if all the winter dreaming is to transform into reality!
While it’s still too early, (make that impossible) to be planting directly outside, it’s the perfect time to be starting some early greens, and herbs inside. Some of the herbs I’ve started are Basil, Summer Savory, Sweet Marjoram and Parsley. (In the interesting but totally irrelevant fact department – I discovered only yesterday that Summer Savory is virtually unavailable west of Ontario, even though it’s ubiquitous in the Maritimes.)
I’ve also seeded some hardy greens, such as kale, arugula, and tat soi. For the past couple of months, our ‘fresh’ salad greens have been coming packed in plastic boxes 😦 Not happy about this, but on the up side they make handy seed starting boxes, which can be easily transferred to outside beds once the threat of temperatures dipping into the minus double digits is no more. In a couple of weeks, prior to sinking the boxes into the garden beds outside, I simply need to slice the base off the plastic salad containers, enabling the roots of the seedlings to continue stretching out into the soil.
Whereas it’s still probably a bit too early to be starting brassicas and more tender plants, such as tomatoes and peppers, it’s definitely a good time to start leeks. Without a heated greenhouse or special grow lights (neither of which I have) tender plants seeded too early indoors will become spindly as they stretch towards the light. Nothing is gained by trying to get a jump on Spring.
However, leeks, being slow to germinate and grow, do benefit from a super early start and they are very forgiving little critters that don’t object to a bit of ‘rough’ handling come transplant time.
Seems to me that leeks aren’t appreciated half as much as they deserve, and perhaps a certain amount of this is due to the fact that they are so slow to grow. Seeding at the traditional May/June planting time here in the Maritimes would definitely result in a disappointing crop.
Because the early start seedlings don’t much mind having there roots disturbed when it’s time to set them out, a whole crop of leeks can be started in one large pot. This efficient use of space makes it simple to start up a pot of leek seeds. It’s well worth the tiny bit of effort involved as leeks are hardy, not prone to disease, are super tasty, frost tolerant to a remarkable degree and store really well once harvested. Leaving a leek to overwinter will allow it to produce a magnificent flower head that will supply more than enough seed for the next year. What’s not to love about leeks?
For more about growing, harvesting and enjoying leeks check out
The Food Lover’s Garden!