We are in Zone 8 here at Raggedy Hen Farm, as determined by the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map. Many beginning gardeners have no idea what hardiness zone they live in, or how one’s yard or garden can have “micro climates” or other factors that influence what can be planted when. Here in the Pacific Northwest, we find there are many folks who wait to plant their gardens until mid-June and then wonder why their broccoli bolts and the lettuce gets bitter. It’s because those plants wanted to be growing back in early spring!
Remember those seeds we started planting a few weeks ago? Well as February dawns, it is time to move some of them out to the coldframe. They’ve been living a pampered life under grow lights in a steady 65 degree room and now that they have their “true leaves” it is time for them to get a protected taste of the outdoors. The broccoli, cabbages, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and collards are all ready to transition to outdoor life–with some protection!
We let the garden’s signals guide us in planting as well. Our French sorrel patch wilts and gets cut back every year and when the new leaves start to come on strong and vibrant, we know that it is time to think about planting some other cool season crops in the ground–also with a little protection in the way of strong plastic–while they germinate. So, as February dawns, we’re planting some lettuce, spinach, kale, and turnips in raised beds tented with heavy plastic, but plenty of ventilation. All these “babies” will still need protection from heavy frosts, but with the spring rains and warming bursts of sun–they will experience their optimal growing environment.