Cool Weather & Containers

I have a bunch of seedlings getting bigger and bigger under grow lights in the basement, and we have had some beautiful 70 degree days, but of course it’s still freezing at night here in Northern Michigan. I haven’t finished prepping the raised beds, but I decided to put some cool-season crops in containers today. This way I can start hardening them off and move them to and from the patio, the breezeway, or indoors depending on the weather.

In a wheel barrow, I made big batch of potting mix consisting of:

  • 1 cubic foot Dairy-Doo (compost)
  • approx. 1/2 cubic foot Michigan peat
  • 8 qt. vermiculite
  • 8 qt. perlite

I pre-moistened each pot and added some Trifecta fertilizer to the top few inches of soil in each container. I then potted a couple of varieties of kale and four varieties of Swiss chard, and started some spinach and lettuce from seed, as well as nasturtiums. I can’t wait for summer salads – especially those sweet, peppery flowers that I never see in the grocery store.

I had a leftover pack of nasturtium seeds – and I remember they took a long time to germinate when I started them in a container last year. I found info online about scarification – which is filing down the surface of the seed (with a nail file or a grater) to increase the rate of germination. I tried it with the Swiss chard seeds already and it definitely worked. So I used up the rest of last year’s packet and am hoping for more nasturtiums than I know what to do with. I put them in a low, wide plastic pot which can eventually go in a hanging basket if all goes well. Instead of adding fertilizer, I mixed some sandier soil into the potting mix – since rich soil promotes leaves and not flowers. That will stay indoors for now.

The kale and chard seedlings are not hardened off yet and it will definitely be below 40 tonight, so I will bring them in for the night too. The lettuce, kale, chard, and mustard greens that I had started in peat pellets did not seem happy under the grow lights after I put them in pots. Not sure if it was the soil mix that I was using or transplant shock or what, but hopefully they will be happier in a cooler environment, with natural light, and more space to grow.


Next on my to-do list is procuring a trailer full of Dairy-Doo for the raised beds and up-potting my peppers, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts to 4″ pots.

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