Delayed Start to Spring 2013

The official records are in, and March 2013 was the 11th coldest on record in Illinois, a giant pendulum swing from March 2012 which was the hotest on record. This year we were 7 degrees below the average of 55.3 degrees. Last year we were 14.2 degrees above that average.

The soil temperatures were 62-65 degrees today, depending on the bed. That’s warm enough for beans, which require daytime soil temps of 60 degrees to germinate. But that’s still below the 70 degrees untreated zucchini seeds need to germinate  so they wait another week.

I recently spoke with my brother, Mike, about soil temperatures and planting. He’s the real expert in organic farming in the family. I really appreciate Johnny Seeds for their inclusion of a soil temp guide on their seed packets. It’s so much more precise than planting just by weeks before or after last frost. But he prefers the more traditional way, noting when different native trees and flowers hit specific milestones. I am certainly one of those who has lost that art, and regrettably so. But it’s also harder to do growing in the city, where we have limited views of native plants.

Besides four varieties of beans (Rocdor and Carson yellow wax; Maxibel french filet; Fortex green pole), I also planted from seed: two varieties of kale (Toscono and Winterbor); three varieties of beet (Golden, Chioggia, Merlin); Happy Rich broccoli X gailon; Bright Lights swiss chard; Hakurei turnips; and Easter Egg radishes.

The lettuce, spinach, and leeks I transplanted last week are doing reasonably well. Both Leeks and Spinach are around 75% survival, but the lettuce is closer to 85%. Given it’s still been cool, I’m OK with that. I filled in with seeds for spinach and lettuce.

The peas planted mid-March are finally germinating. So too the spring green manure mix. It was a shame to have to use the stirrup hoe to cut down so much of it in the cabbage bed to plant the beets, broccoli X gailon, kale, and swiss chard. I left it going in the tomato bed for another week. But the tomato seedlings are coming on strong, and the peppers have finally germinated.

It’s so nice to have spring finally in full bloom!


About mwolske

I'm a Senior Research Scientist in Community Informatics at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of Illinois.
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