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When is the cool season growth supposed to start?

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When is the cool season growth supposed to start?

Post  Marc Iverson on 10/27/2013, 2:17 am

I planted spinach starting in July. It failed to germinate. I kept planting. It started to germinate. So I planted more, in a relatively shady place, in August. Then some more in September and October. What have I got? One planting has thin leaves that look like grass blades, maybe three inches long, two or three per plant. Another later planting has two tiny leaves, anywhere from a quarter inch to an inch long. I'm not impressed.

I planted lettuce, pretty much the same pattern. Some grew well starting from August, though. I got a few bitter plants that leaped for the sky which I finally pulled out because they never shook their unpleasant taste, and perhaps a dozen survivors that found their happiness at an inch high and stayed there.

Most of the lettuce is uncovered, but a single pot of lettuce is covered and finally giving a real leaf or two. All the spinach is uncovered.

Should I expect anything better, or is this as good as it gets? It's hard to believe there will be anything worth harvesting through the winter, covers or no covers, at this rate.

P.S.: My kale, covered or uncovered, also thinks half an inch to an inch is delightful. If only more often such were an easy sell.
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Re: When is the cool season growth supposed to start?

Post  littlejo on 10/27/2013, 8:52 am

Well Marc, sounds like you need some nitrogen. I don't know how your compost is, but lettuce, spinach, and kale all take nitrogen like candy. Something liquid would be good, worm or compost tea, any organic fertilizer mixed in some water well, so you could pour it on/near plants,(so as not to disturb plants by digging) . Any heat in air will prevent these from germinating. Winter salads are great!
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Re: When is the cool season growth supposed to start?

Post  camprn on 10/27/2013, 9:11 am

Autumn plants do not grow is vigorously or as big. Maybe you need to beef up your compost but most likely what you see is what you're going to get at this point. All of my late season spinach is also quite small.

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Re: When is the cool season growth supposed to start?

Post  CapeCoddess on 10/27/2013, 9:50 am

I've found that the best way for me to get the greens to grow in autumn/winter is to start them indoors or plant them direct when needed in order to be full grown by fall.  Also, I use a lot of diluted urine to add the nitrogen that is needed to keep them going.  Seems to work.
Buttercrunch in a 5 gal bucket of MM started inside in 6 packs:  
I have more buttercrunch and romaine scattered around the SFGs from this method.

Below are plants from seeds probably started in August, then I used a row cover for shade once sprouted.
6 sqs clockwise from top left -beets, Black Simpson lettuce, pak choi, spinach, carrots, collards:

I find that kale needs to be full grown by fall for me.  These 2 sqs of dwarf kale (the smallest plants in the photo) were direct seeded in Sept & are only medium sized, but I don't mind since I have another box full of matured dwarf kale:

Mature dwarf kale, front box, & collards, next box, that have been harvested many times all spring, summer & fall:
We'll be harvesting them again today.

The row cover came off once the weather stayed in or below 70 and goes back on during the nights when the temps drop to 37 or below.  Once we hit freezing I'll start using the plastic.

Of course every area is different.  You'll get to know the timing of your area soon. Wink 

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