Thursday, April 14, 2011

Out of Ground Experience

So for those of you who were surprised by my post about doing kale, spinach, and chard starts indoors, this post is for you. Usually one does not plant these seeds indoors and then transplant them. They germinate at cooler temperatures, and conventional gardening wisdom states that one should sow them directly into the ground. However, we are all about experimentation at S-UH, as well as cultivating (no pun intended) ways to make gardening more accessible to people in climates less mild than the Pacific Northwest. I wanted to see if there was a way that my family in Central New York, or our readers in Chicago, Minnesota, and Alberta could get their plants going before the outdoor growing season starts.

Hence the article in which I planted kale, spinach, and chard into egg cartons to get the growin' goin'. These little sprouts are leafy and happy on my start shelf, but beautiful weather and the need to turn them EVERY DAY due to sun coming from only one direction finds me putting them out into the raised beds in the backyard.

First off, if you are following the blog, you know that the beds themselves are experimental. They have been out back rotting away for a while now, and I am please to report that the peas I planted recently have been growing well out there! Here's how I am going about planting in the sheet mulch, as well as details about the transplantation experiment.

The sheet mulch is not soil. It is a partially-composted mass of striated compost, straw, soil, and manure. To increase the success of anything I plant here I am digging a trench into the bed, and filling that trench with soil before putting in the transplants. In this pic I show the trench I dug today to put in the pea starts that I kept indoors for an extra week.

I used the cardboard egg cartons to plant in, which meant that I could just cut them up and place the plants into the soil inside the cups. Here is where the experiment starts getting interesting. The plants came up in the egg cartons just fine. I planted one row of each plant by scooping the start out of the cup and planting it bare into the soil, one row with the cups still intact, and one row I sowed seeds directly into the ground. Now all I have to do is water, fertilize, and watch to see what happens with each row. Not the most scientific, controlled experiment but hey, I am no scientist.

The plants are in! Will report back to see how it goes. At the moment I get to enjoy the happy kale, chard, spinach, and pea plants out back in the sun. Oh, and the cucumber starts are popping up!!!


  1. we had a hard frost again last the twenties this am - ann

  2. yeah...we are very lucky that we get to plant this early, and that really we can plant nearly year-round. when i think about the people who read this blog, i know that not everyone can do that. this last project was an attempt at trying some things that our friends in cooler climes may be able to replicate!