Saturday, February 13, 2010

Seed Starting List for 2010 - Cold Weather Greens

It's time. Hard to believe with all the snow still on the ground.

We're starting our cool-weather (organic, heirloom) seedlings in the next two weeks. They'll be ready to move outside, under a cold frame or into an unheated greenhouse, in 4-5 weeks.
I'd encourage everyone to start their own seeds. It's not that hard. Check out this post on Seed Starting for more info.

If you'd like me to start any (from the list below) for you, email me or leave a comment on this post by the end of February. I have space under my lights to start an extra 100 cool-weather plants. For $3 you'll get a 3-4" tall plant in a 4" grower pot. No delivery, you'll need to pick them up at my house, near Division and Wood Streets in Chicago. I did it last year and found it was a nice way to meet some of our readers.

I'm keeping track of all the starts on this Google Doc spreadsheet.

We'll be starting the warm-weather plants, like tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers, around March 15th. I'll put a list up in a couple of weeks of those varieties. [Updated, link here.]

In addition to some of our own saved seeds, we have seeds from:

Franchi (Seeds From Italy)
Hudson Valley Seed Co
Johnny's Seeds
Renee's Garden
Seed Saver Co
Victory Seed Co

Many of our early-season starts could just as easily be direct seeded after it warms up. However, we've found that starting them inside extends our growing season/yield.

Here's a list of the cool-weather plants we're starting:

Wild Arugula

Asian Greens
Baby Bok Choy
Braising Mix
Savoyed-Leaf Tatsoi
Smooth-Leaf Tatsoi

Broccoli Raab

Chicory 'selvatica de campo'
Collards 'Champion'
Cress 'Upland'
Cress 'Wrinkled, Crinkled, Crumpled'
Endive 'Full Heart Batavian'
Mustard 'Indian Mix'
Mustard 'Red Giant'
Swiss Chard 'Rainbow'

Lacinato Rainbow
Red Russian
• Red Winter
White Russian

Black Seeded Simpson
Green Salad Bowl
Mesclun Mix
Marveille des Quatre Saisons
Paris Island Romaine
• Red Salad Bowl
Red Velvet

New Zealand Spinach
Spinach 'Bloomsdale'


esp said...

That's a great list of cold season seeds, very helpful. Thanks.

When you plant these in 4 weeks or so, will they be going into SWCs outside? Will you be using any type of cold frame or cloche on them?

H2 said...

Depends on the weather, but starts like these that have been grown with heat will definitely require some acclimation.

We'll probably plant into SIPs and keep in the unheated roof greenhouse for a while before moving outside.

Any simple cloche or cold frame would achieve the same results: help them get accustomed to the cool, where they'll flourish.

esp said...

I see. Thanks for the answer. I have some old storm windows the size of my rubbermaid SWCs that I thought might make a rough coldframe. I may give it a try with some of the cold hardy greens you recommend.

Thanks again. I enjoy the blog.

H2 said...

esp: what a good idea, using the storm windows to make a frame. Another is to take one of the large plastic boxes that greens are sold in--like earthbound farms uses.

One of the large might sit over a whole row of greens. The smaller ones work well too--I use them to create heat when I'm starting seeds in SIPs in Sept-Oct and I want them to warm up and get going.

Just position them over the starts--amazing how warm them get inside. Then on a sunny day lift them to air out from time to time. Soon they'll be ready for whatever nature delivers.

chiayi said...


I'm ready to get my seeds started indoors this year - been meaning to for a few years and I finally have the means to do so this year.

I rigged up a cheap pulley system with room for 4 florescent bulbs. What type of bulbs do you suggest I use to get things crackin'? Any idea about cost or ease of purchasing bulbs - hardware store?

Thanks so much for the great site - I recommend it to my friends interested in SIP planters. Did lots of tinkering last year based on ideas from the site. I live in Milwaukee and hope to get to the windy city this spring for some SIP learnin'.

Steve Falsetti

H2 said...

Hey Steve: what a lovely note. You'd better come visit when you're in town. (Bruce can tell you more about lights.)

Bruce said...

Hi Steve,

Sounds like you're on the right track with the lights.

I use florescent bulbs from Home Depot. They're the T-8 bulbs, not the larger/older T-12, though they'd work too. It's not necessary to buy expensive grow lights that replicate the full light spectrum because we're not growing the plants to maturity indoors, just giving them a headstart.

Tiny Farm Blog has a nice summary on seed starting under lights here.

chiayi said...

Awesome. Thanks for the link and the info - I'll be swinging past the hardware shop to grab me a few t-8s tomorrow. I'll also make a point to check out your setup when I visit Chicago, thanks for the invite!

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