Direct Planting Hardy, Cold-Weather Seeds

With the North Country growing season not really starting until June and frosty nights lasting well into May, it's best to start most seeds indoors around here. Our cauliflower, broccoli, lentils, carrots, tomatoes, and more are all busy establishing root systems in the greenhouse; while other veggies such as peas are extremely hardy and can be put right into the thick of things by April. With that in mind, Ruby Amanze and I hit the Better Farm garden last week to get lima and roma beans, onion bulbs, and sugar and snap peas planted.

Luckily for us, mulch gardening has worked wonders on the formerly hard soil in Better Farm's garden. Layers of cardboard, fresh compost, wood ash, and dead leaves have yielded super-soft, rich, dark soil that is a breeze to plant in. Soil that last year broke two shovels this year didn't require so much as a hand trowel to get into.

We set to work getting the seeds 2 inches deep and several inches apart. The onions we planted a little deeper and spaced further from each other, on account of their anticipated growth.

All the activity naturally attracted the attention of Better Farm's chickens. Here are Henrietta and Sissy stopping over to see what all the fuss was about, and to scratch in some fresh compost.

The girls stayed out of the way long enough for Ruby and I to get all the seeds in and watered. While we were out there, I was pleased to discover the kale from last year making a comeback.

Very exciting. Next week we'll start in on putting fresh seeds in the greenhouse and adding some compost manure to our garden beds. Only a month to go until we're in the full swing of things!

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.