Saturday, January 19, 2013

A (Very) Early Spring Day in Chicago

On Jan 9 I stepped out and sniffed the 50-degree+ Chicago air. Like an animal waking from its winter slumber, I smelled the warm earth and immediately had the urge to plant something. So I located a few empty SIPs and washed them in hot vinegar water.

Happily, I have a friend on the roof to hoist up my planting boxes and watering can (no running water up there in winter, despite these occasional oddly warm temps).

The sun was shining as I opened the potting mix bin to reveal a couple of bags of peat, ready to be mixed with perlite this spring to create fresh potting mix.

I filled my small SIPs...and added a little balanced fertilizer.

Our growing roof is all tucked in for winter. Some of those yellow SIPs have even been washed and dried, stored now in the unheated greenhouse, which is where I'm heading.

I always have winter-spring seeds on hand, including some I ordered from Franchi late this fall.

Root Simple recently wrote about one of Franchi's gorgeous salad mixes, shown here growing in their LA garden. Eye-popping color.

Hey, I'm planting! This makes me happy.

We watered in the seeds lightly and covered the grouping with a plastic bag. As the greenhouse warms on sunny days, so too will the potting mix. During the single-digit cold coming this week, the mix will freeze, mimicking the in-ground environment.

When spring temperatures and increasing sun crack those seeds, they'll show some green, like these snap peas I planted in SIPs in the greenhouse in just the same way last winter. Here are their sturdy sprouts on March 11, 2012, when they were easily lifted and transplanted to one of our earthboxes. Check out the root development.
Why not plant peas or greens directly into a SIP? The greenhouse-trapped sun and heat prompts  germination weeks earlier than otherwise on our roof. A head start on good eating.


Alison said...

Even tho' I can't see your face, I'm pretty sure there's a big smile on it when you've got your fingers in the dirt!

H2 said...

You know that's true Alison...