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Seedlings Want IN to my Small Kitchen Garden

I figure to set tomato seedlings in the garden in late May so I started seeds at the beginning of April. I love how a tomato sprout pushes up a section of stem and then eventually pulls its leaf tips free.

As a kitchen gardener, I get excited when the first seeds sprout in my office each spring. If I manage things well, those sprouts are lettuces and brassicas (cauliflower and broccoli). They can go into the garden more than a month before cold-sensitive crops such as tomatoes and chili peppers, and it’s great to give them a head start so they have plenty of productive time outdoors before summer heat shuts them down.

My Small Kitchen Garden is a Lake

I planted several varieties of lettuce in early March along with a bunch of broccoli and cauliflower seeds. They came on well, and I figured to plant them outdoors in late March or early April—about when I started tomatoes and peppers in my office.

I started four types of lettuce near the beginning of March. The Summer Crisp and Purple Leaf lettuces in this planter should have gone in the garden two or three weeks ago. We’d be eating fresh garden salads if we’d had about six inches less rain in the past month.

Here’s the thing: my planting bed has been too wet to garden. The longest gap between rainstorms in the past six weeks has been, perhaps, three days. Each storm has lasted at least 12 hours and deposited enough water to saturate the soil and leave puddles on top.

When I first plunged a garden fork into the soil and pressed down on the handle to loosen things up for my lettuce seedlings, there was a loud sucking noise. My soil contains a lot of clay, so if I work it when it’s wet I might just as well be making pottery as tilling.

My tomato seedlings are getting big enough to set outdoors and I’ll probably transplant them to larger pots in ten days or so. In the meantime, my lettuce and brassica seedlings are getting really annoyed. They desperately want out of their planters and into the garden.

The cauliflower and broccoli plants look nearly large enough to put up their central florets. If the garden doesn’t dry out in the next few days, I’ll move the plants into large pots on my deck; I’ve never grown cauliflower and broccoli in planters, but I’m confident they’ll do well that way.

Because the garden continues to remain under water, I may need to set my lettuce seedlings in individual pots and manage them on my deck. Otherwise, it may be so hot by the time the garden is ready that the seedlings will bolt and there won’t be any lettuce to harvest.

Broccoli and cauliflower are a bit more heat-tolerant, and they can go in the garden later. However, they also need more space for roots, so if these rain storms continue I’ll be potting up the brassicas about when I pot up the tomatoes.

Usually I push the season a bit and get my plants in the ground too early. The way 2011 is developing, I can’t get them in the ground early enough. With luck, the rain will let up before June and I’ll be able to set out tomato and pepper seedlings without resorting to SCUBA gear. On the other hand, maybe it’s time to consider growing rice in my small kitchen garden.

How’s your kitchen garden doing?

No, I’m not making it up: my garden is very wet. Word is that local farmers are two weeks behind because of the weather. After a full day without rain, there is still standing water in my main planting bed. Apparently, some types of weeds don’t mind having wet feet.

 

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3 Responses to “Seedlings Want IN to my Small Kitchen Garden”

  • Jennie:

    Wow, I can’t even imagine having that much water in my garden! It just doesn’t rain like that here. Even rapid snow melt in the spring doesn’t leave puddles like that…

  • Sounds like us. 3″ on Tuesday, more rain last night and today as well.

    Worried about the garlic and peas drowning.

  • Ryan:

    It has been a wet start to the summer here in CT so I feel your pain. I decided to start my first garden which I am working on keeping a blog of at http://edigarden.blogspot.com

    For some silly reason I decided to plant it on a hill, which was a terrible idea when all my Swiss Chard and Carrots got washed away… But after I put a drainage ditch along the side it has actually kept it from turning into a lake.. It has been about 4 or 5 days of rain and 2 days of hot humid days for the past 2 months…

    Great post though and I hope the gardening has been getting better!

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