ampersandprojectblog

off-the-grid and interconnected

Spring Planting

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Raising young plants from seed is maybe my favorite thing to do in life. Tending plants is a task that never makes it on my to-do list. The plants seem to be an extension of myself. If I didn’t live off rainwater collection, raising plants would take up a lot more of my time and water. But living on a rainwater budget makes every drop sacred, as are the seedlings that grew from those drops.IMG_4847

This year I was inspired to get started early with my seed starting. I planted in the greenhouse in stages from the middle of February on. The flats of seeds covered every free surface in my small greenhouse, even the pathways. I grow seedlings for the Madrid Community Garden, and I was envisioning the abundance of greens that would fill those beds. March has been a good month for getting these in the ground.

I planted lettuces, kale, collards (and took cuttings of my perennial tree collards who live in the greenhouse year round), parsley, chard, broccoli, and cilantro.

I had always thought of cilantro as a summer plant until several years ago when I got them started really early, just to try. Cilantro can go to seed so quickly when the weather turns hot. Sometimes this happens before they have made many leaves to harvest. I’m happy to get a good crop of coriander seeds, but the best would be to get a good crop of cilantro leaves too. Cilantro can also dislike transplanting, but I have had some success.

The day that I transplanted my cilantro seedlings, along with spinach and lettuce, into my garden, I noticed a volunteer. A cilantro volunteer! In our dry climate, this is amazing. Right out in the open, under the solar panel for our outdoor shower, which helped give this plant a good dose of water when it rained. It was already bigger than the cilantro I was to transplant, and it had taken some hard frosts. Volunteer plants can be the best teachers. Now the cilantro that I transplanted has caught up and I think this will be a leafy cilantro spring. Now for getting those tomatoes to produce at the same time…

The Terrace Garden has it’s shade cloth outfit for Spring and Summer. Many gardeners grow under the white row cover year round. I prefer to keep a better eye on my babies.

The planting out was done in stages.  This year I discovered the benefits of postal crates as temporary cold frames.

The planting out was done in stages. This year I discovered the benefits of postal crates as temporary cold frames.

The shade enclosure opens in panels.  For now, white row cover gives them extra protection while establishing.

The shade enclosure opens in panels. For now, white row cover gives them extra protection while establishing.

IMG_5058

These plants are happily established, thanking us for our special treatment with gifts of salad greens. The ollas are also planted in the ground to help establish deep roots.

written by Amanda Bramble

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