The Southwest Idaho climate allows for a variety of plantings IF the gardener times it correctly throughout the seasons. For instance, I have already planted peas, lettuce, and spinach in the early weeks of March. The peas and spinach prefer to sprout and grow at lower temperatures than things like squash, tomatoes, and beans. These cool weather vegetables still won’t germinate until the temperatures are consistently enough like spring, however the young plants can handle some light frost. Plus, the peas and spinach will likely not produce well in the heat of the summer, which we definitely have here. In the summer, the peas will tend to just turn brown and die; the spinach will bolt practically before it produces edible leaves. Some lettuce varieties hold up to the heat better, like Crispino, available from Johhnys Selected Seeds, but for most lettuces it is difficult to keep them watered enough so that their leaves don’t turn bitter.
A bit of research turned up a couple of good articles that explain the chemistry of all of this. What Determines Cold Hardiness in Plants.Harvard.3.2011 is a succinct paper on the subject, written by an associate professor at Harvard. Another article deals more with how woody plants survive freezing temps, but the information is pertinent to a general understanding of plants dealing with weather. The website howplantswork.wordpress.com looks like it has a lot of information I’m interested in.
I’m going back to planting a familiar old-fashioned shelling pea this year. (I’ve tried snow peas and sugar snap peas, but don’t care for chewing the pods.) I soaked the seeds in water for a few hours, then got out my inoculant. I have always used a powdered form before, which was mixed with the damp seeds before planting. The inoculant that I purchased at D&B this year was granular, so only needed to be sprinkled over the seeds in their trench prior to covering them. I should have read the directions first…but I figured it out.
The seed packet said to plant them in a 3 inch band, seeds about 1 to 2 inches apart. I probably ended up with a 5 inch band, like usual. Since I like to fill my raised beds with vegetable plants, leaving less room for weeds, my only real concern is that the plants are not too crowded for their own growth or for picking. I use short wire fencing for a sort of trellis for the plants to climb up some and lean against. (The green on the other side of the fencing is leeks that over wintered. Two days ago, I used a few of those in a nice chicken soup.)
After tamping down the inch layer of soil, the soaker hose is put back in place and the waiting begins. I don’t generally have to do any watering this time of year, the spring rains being sufficient.
I’m also looking forward to my first lettuce. I started with three kinds in double rows, two green ones with a red one in the middle. It should be pretty to look at.
Now, besides caring for my adorable pepper seedlings, my mind is churning with plans for what comes next, everything from finishing pruning my fruit trees to getting ready to plant things like broccoli and onions in a couple of weeks.