Am curious if any gardeners have put in their peas yet?  Or spinach?  When do you typically begin to plant and have you adjusted your time frame because of the early spring this year?

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I put in a few peas on March 28 and started some particularly cold-hardy lettuce and spinach in the cold frame on March 18.  The soil seemed so warm in there that it seemed like they might germinate and get a good start . . . of course it's been so cold that I haven't gone out all that much to check them.  I didn't see much growth last time I looked.

I also started seedings inside with a growth mat and then a light.  Parsnips germinate so slowly, I decided to start some inside to transplant outside.  That way I wouldn't have to worry so much about weeding them out as babies.  I was surprised that they germinated in four days, instead of the 14 - 21 that the packet suggested.

I'm curious if I should wait to plant potatoes and onions.  I don't have any potatoes left, so the idea of early potatoes is very appealing.  But for storage, it seems like later planting is better.  So maybe both early and late plantings are good. I think I can protect the new growth with straw . . .   I hear onions are pretty hardy, so I worry less about the frosts, but I still have storage onions and shallots and the garden has leeks and garlic scopes will be coming soon, so I feel less pressure to get them in the ground.

I "usually" plant both peas and spinach the first week of April, except that every year that we have a warm spell in March (about a third of the time), I plant them both mid-March. That's what I did this year. Spinach is up about 3 inches and peas are just starting to poke through. In past years, I have not found that either are ready to harvest any sooner when I plant them 2-3 weeks earlier. It seems like the inevitable cold spell always comes and slows them down.

We are actively working on getting ready to plant peas and spinach as soon as we can prepare a bed for them.  We've been trying hard to develop a good crop rotation plan in our garden which is complicated by a need for more space every year.  The bed we have planned for peas (and spinach and lettuce) is just about ready, but I need to rig up a trellis for the peas to grown on.  We've determined that it's better to have the trellis in place before planting rather than putting it up afterwards.

As for the effects of the winter-that-wasn't, the weather seems to have returned to something a bit more normal for the time of year.  We've had several hard frosts at night, for example.  I'm more worried about my fruit trees (peaches, esp) than if it's too early to plant out peas.

As in past years, we are planning on sugar snap peas.  We like to cook them in the pods while still young.  They are also good in salads, raw.  As the growth picks up, we'll let the pods mature and start harvesting them for shelling and freezing (hence the workshop I'm giving in June).  We plant spinach and lettuce (several kinds) in succession.  Both tend to bolt when the weather gets warmer and we are hoping that by co-planting them with the peas that they will be shaded a bit, which seems to help in July and August.  We also got two crops of peas last year by doing a second planting in Sept.

- Mark

My peas have been in for two weeks now. Just starting to see a few poke out of the ground. Spinach will go in this week...maybe. I still don't trust the weather and the cold frame is out of commission due to a rambunctious cat! The cat is okay but the cold frame isn't. 



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