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Ginger
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Is anyone sure what this phrase means?

Plant as early in the spring as the soil can be worked.

I'm not sure whether to interpret that as, "When the soil's no longer frozen, so you can turn it," or, "When the soil's thawed and no longer sodden," or... what. There's nearly a month's difference between thawed and no longer sodden. And thawed happens long before the last snowfall. (And semi-thawed happens multiple times.)

Seeds like spinach and sweet pea flowers give these instructions. I've read of people in the Northeast who plant spinach seeds during February thaw, and let them decide when it's time to come up. If the spinach seeds and seedlings don't mind repeated freeze&thaw, that would be the fastest way to have outdoor-started spinach, but you could do faster with indoor-started spinach. And for most plants, repeated freeze&thaw is more traumatic than staying frozen. Etc. It's just not clear to me whether I should put these out in early March, or early April.

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Beth11
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Hi Gisette,

  Yeah, that phrasing is nebulous.  I go with what the Maryland Cooperative extension says (March 10-April 20) and then tailor it to what works in my garden. I haven't had much success with spinach.  It goes from cold to hot so quick it always bolts.  I tried fall planting and overwintering and the spinach was very sweet - ick -then bolted. Have you been on gardenweb?  They have a winter sowing forum that is interesting.  They'd say plant 'em now.

Beth


Ginger
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Thanks, Beth. I think I saw that section on GardenWeb that said to plant them now. Alas, February thaw lasted only a few days - containers never got thawed all the way down, then froze again. That's an added wrinkle - I'm growing food in containers, which freeze and thaw much more often.

My spring spinach last year was only hampered by the containers arriving in May - the spinach did great, for the short time it had. But the latest the spinach should have been outside was mid-April. Autumn didn't go well at all, for any of my greens.

Haven't found any CT-specific advice yet. Based on the general inconsistency of CT weather... March 1 - April 30 is probably the right guideline. Sometime in that 2-month window. Earlier being better since no matter how cold the spring, summer happens no later than June 21, and Indian Summer starts just after Labor Day. All else... including how hot "summer" gets... varies.

BB (not verified)

Soil freezes? I've seen that happen once back in the late '80s, the north side of our house in the mountains had about 3 ft.of snow that didn't melt 'til June. Worse mess I ever saw, it was frozen solid then became a quagmire for two months. I pity you NE folks but then we're having the opposite problem, high temps and absolutely NO moisture in months. Where's a place with a happy medium?

Ginger
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San Francisco? You lose the seasons then, though.

I rather like having 4 seasons. Especially years when the winter one is mild and short.

Peat
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You'll all be moving to the UK then.  

A little wet in Wales & Scotland but not bad in the South East of England, all 4 seasons as they were designed...

Beth11
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Hi Peat,

  I travel to Bristol for work from time to time - did you get the snow that London got? 

Beth

 


Peat
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I don't live far from London, we had the heaviest snow I have ever seen here. The capitol ground to a complete halt, no buses running, trains cancelled and cars conspicuous by their absence. Peace and quiet.

Gisette - last time I was in San Fran, I got sun burnt on the tourist boat we caught - such a lovely shade of red!

Ginger
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Not easy to get sunburnt in San Francisco - well done! My last time in San Francisco, we rented a 32' yacht for the day - nice! Sailed up the Sacramento River (that was sunny!), parked at Pier 39 for Kyoto coffee, and by that time the captain was so sloshed he decided to pull a U-turn under the Golden Gate Bridge about 15 minutes before the riptide. Almost spent the night out on the Pacific.

I've been to Bedford near London several times. Compared to CT, all of England is cool and wet!

Ginger
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Hm. This one advises prepping soil in fall, then broadcasting spinach seed right over the snow. Also suggested refrigerating it before summer planting (for fall). That might help... And this one says to plant sweet peas after the harsh part of winter, a month before last frost - far more helpful than "as soon as the ground can be worked". Guess that really does mean as soon as the soil thaws.

Still not clear on when to transplant out, of course. I suppose I could plant some seeds, and when they sprout, start hardening off.

BB (not verified)

Great job Peat, getting a sunburn in SF. Maere's brother lives there so we go now and then and love it but like gisette said, it doesn't have the four seasons I love so much. Here's a site that finds the places that match your criteria. I was beyond surprised at the results but one was the place I was living at the time, Alpine, TX.