Del Norte Gardening: Sowing more seeds than ever

Written by Paul Madeira and Julie Jo Ayers Williams February 03, 2014 03:53 pm

Get a start on this year’s garden, but don’t forget it’ll still be getting cold

The bounty of winter continues with the latest carrot crop.
The bounty of winter continues with the latest carrot crop. Del Norte Triplicate / Bryant Anderson
Del Norte Gardening runs monthly. Paul Madeira and Julie Jo Ayer Williams own Ocean Air Farms in Fort Dick. 

What to do in the garden with weather like this?

Perhaps you’re pulling out irrigation when in the past you’ve pulled out moldy rotten plants.  As long as the well doesn’t dry up, I think we’ll all survive and probably enjoy the extra vitamin D while it’s here.

Take advantage of the nice weather, dig up some dirt and get it prepped for planting, make it soft and fluffy and add some compost to it. Go ahead and try to get a jump-start on seed sowing or transplanting young plants — it may pay off with an extra-early bounty.

Do keep in mind that we are not out of winter yet and we still will get some freezes so our advice is not to put all your eggs in one basket. Best to try cold, hardy plants like peas and broccoli, and quick-growing crops like radish, bok choy and arugula.

Utilize your greenhouse or use floating row cover for a little extra protection. Take a little time to tend some of your perennials.

If you haven’t ordered your seeds for the upcoming season, do so soon. Territorial is a regional company great for backyard gardeners, but tends to be a bit pricey and it doesn’t offer large enough increments for us. Another awesome source for backyard gardeners is Seed Savers Exchange, which specializes in heirloom and heritage varieties. Some companies that we use are Johnny’s Seed, Fedco, High Mowing Seeds, and Osborne.  

Greenhouses shelter the next wave of produce.
Greenhouses shelter the next wave of produce. Del Norte Triplicate / Bryant Anderson
For us here at Ocean Air Farms, February marks the first of our seed sowing for the main season. We sow our seeds in trays in an unheated greenhouse.

We will be busy bees, as we will sow roughly 20,000 onion seeds, which should be ready to be transplanted into the fields by mid-April. We will also be sowing tomatoes, eggplant and peppers. Though from a previous season’s devastating loss (a frost that killed all of our repotted young peppers and tomatoes even in the greenhouse), we typically don’t sow all of these seeds at this time.

Due to excellent sales at the Wild Rivers Market, we will be sowing kale at this time, too. We typically don’t sow kale this early, but our winter patch is dwindling as we’ve been picking it hard to try and keep up with the community’s demand.

There will probably be a low period when we can’t supply the store with kale, but fear not, it won’t last long.  Also, be on the look out for chard in the future. We will be sowing Swiss chard, white, rainbow, and red varieties in order to supply Wild Rivers Market with as much locally sourced product as possible — it’s truly a win-win.

We are still harvesting carrots and beets that we over-wintered. They will be available both at Wild Rivers Market and at our upcoming farm stand next week on Saturday and Sunday.

At the farm stand, which will be the last one for the winter, we will also have red, white and purple potatoes, onions, garlic, arugula, baby bok choy and maybe even a baby calf.

Big Bessie, one of our cows, is due in February, but no telling exactly when.

So come on out to the farm Saturday, Feb. 8, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and Sunday, Feb. 9, noon-5 p.m. Hope to see you there.

Have a question or suggestion? E-mail it to This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it and it may be addressed in a future column.