Starting off in January
Never before have I started sowing as early as this year. I guess not being able to sow anything last year, due to border crossing restrictions, made me go wild. The seed I bought last year have been added to with new seed purchases. Not entirely in control, I now have double packages of some varieties.
21st of January was kick-off for sowing. It was too early to heat up the plant nursery or greenhouse for this purpose, so I kept the seed trays in the kitchen. I sowed plants with a long development time, like tomatoes, peppers and chilies, as well as asparagus and onions. I have to set up some sort of seedling shelves with plant lights next year. The daylight is plainly too short for sowing in January
Challenges with light, soil, and temperature
However, since we commute back and forth a lot of the time, and the house seldom is heated, the sprouts didn’t grow too long. Yet, after a month inside the house, it was time to warm up the plant nursery in the orangery. Since we spend a lot of time in the orangery anyway, we often light a fire in the stove. Therefore, I only used a small fan-oven to prevent frost whenever the temperature goes low.
This means that the plants have been through some huge temperature variations. While it can be up to 30 degrees on a sunny day (luckily, we haven’t had too many of those this year), it has only been slightly above zero at nights. After I moved the seedlings to the plant nursery, the growth stopped almost entirely. I could hardly see any growth for several weeks. I might as well have sown them a month later, which I might do next year.
One reason for the slow growth might be that I potted the seedlings into soil I bought for the garden last year. I have later discovered that this soil is meant for perennials, shrubs and trees, and not recommended for seedlings. Anyway, after I started fertilizing with some tomato fertilizer, the growth caught up, and now, the plants are almost growing too fast.
Taking a risk
We have 90 tomato plants of different varieties and they started to take up a lot of space in our little plant nursery. A few weeks ago, I took the risk and planted some out into the greenhouse, which we don’t heat. It has gone surprisingly well. Although the temperature dropped so low at a couple of occasions, I had to put in an oven we can switch on in case of emergency protection.
Last week I planted out some more tomatoes, as well as a few peppers and chilies. As a precaution, I have kept some plants in the plant nursery, just in case. I still have in mind the year when I planted out all my tomato plants in the end of May and the following frost night killed off most of them. One reason for this was that I left the doors open when I went to Norway, which limits the insulation effect. This year, I have allied up with a retired neighbour who looks after the greenhouse when we’re away. He opens the doors when the sun shines and closes them at night. Furthermore, I have placed some additional protection over the least hardy plants.
Apart from tomatoes, peppers and chilies, I have planted more cold tolerant plants in the greenhouse. Some of the onions that I sowed in January, as well as leek, broccoli, cauliflower, turnip and different cabbages have been added to the beds. In addition to that I have direct sown spinach, salad and carrots and planted some onion bulbs, just to make sure we will have early onions.
My husband loves onions. It is the crop he always asks me if I have sown enough of. We do eat a lot of onions, though. We had great luck with growing onions, carrots, and salads in the greenhouse two years ago, so I know sowing early inside helps prolong the season, both in the spring as well as in the autumn.
A lot is happening right now
Well, this text turned out to be a lot longer and more detailed than I intended, but I guess I had a lot on my heart. Since we’re still building up the farm’s infrastructure, we’re so busy that I really don’t have time for blogging. Still, I’ll try to be more active. I promise. There really is a lot of interesting stuff going on right now.