March 20th, 2014
Happy first day of spring! In honor of the changing seasons, we ventured out to our founder’s farms to see what’s growing this time of year. Laurie gave us the full tour, and here’s what we learned.
Winter Cover Crops
During the coldest, rainiest months the lovely Pacific Northwest has to offer, Laurie and her team planted crimson clover, winter peas and vetch as cover crops for the outdoor fields. Why cover crops? Cover crops stabilize the soil from possible erosion from all our rain (we get about 42 inches of rain between October and May). Cover cops also build soil fertility, soil quality and inhibits weeds and pests. The clover will stay for a little while longer, until the threat of lots more cold weather and heavy rain passes.
When the clover flowers, the bees enjoy it and then the plant is tilled into the soil as a “green manure.” Green manure, common in organic and sustainable farming practices. is the organic material or cover crop adding nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) back in to the soil.
Plant starts are just beginning at the farms, and they’re all living in the greenhouses. Laurie recommends starting seeds in your windowsill if you don’t have access to a greenhouse. All you need is sunlight and soil temperature at 50ºF. The extra sunlight and warmth will help the seed germinate. Give your starts at least 40 days to germinate inside, and then they should be strong enough to transplant outside.
One beautiful spring day can be deceiving, especially in Oregon! So, as tempting as it may be, Laurie cautions not to plant outside until early May. We did the math, and that just so happens to be about 40 days from now, so if you want to start from seed, you better get your veggies started inside!
What We’re Planting
Right now, it’s best to plant kale, cold weather lettuce, arugula, cilantro and spinach because they’ll germinate in 40-45ºF. Other plants need soil that’s 50-55ºF which is still a few weeks away for planting outside here in Oregon. You’ll want to wait to start your tomatoes and other heat-loving plants for a few more weeks because tomatoes should be ready for transplanting outside in late May or early June.
Right now, Laurie has cabbage, cauliflower, marigolds, calendula, tomatoes, maca, bok choi, parsley, cilantro, celery, lettuce, beets, carrots and lots more in the greenhouses at our founder’s farms. We have so much to look forward to this year!
Send us your spring gardening questions on Twitter or Facebook, and we’ll try to get some answers from our resident green thumb!