January greetings! It has been mild here in the Philadelphia region the past two weeks. We have had a few chilly days, but nothing especially cold. Of course working inside a greenhouse as opposed to outside is a benefit this time of year. On a sunny afternoon, it’s a spring day!
Still, it is too cold to garden outside with the exception of overwintered brassica and pansies. But even they will look “meh” come February. Into the greenhouse we grower go!
For the past two years, we have been doing a December seeding of lettuce and other salad greens – kale, arugula, chard, etc. Normally, this is seed that we have in stock or order from Harris Seeds – both individual varieties of head, leaf, bibb, and romaine lettuce, as well as “green mixes” that offer a diversity of salad greens. In all honesty, some of these we trial for ourselves for taste, BRIX, and how they perform with various soilless substrates and/or fertilizers.
We do sell some plug trays of this early lettuce. To other growers who want to get a jump start on the season and have heads late February or early March. These individuals have heated greenhouses or heated tunnels and are able to encourage the greens to produce earlier to go to market sooner with them.
Another grower takes the lettuce babies when they are still tiny and finishes them in their greenhouse as baby greens. This allows them to supply a few local restaurants in the winter months when food prices are typically high and produce is from other parts of the country and world. It’s a win-win all around. We get to experiment with new horticulture products and methods before our growing season really gets, well, growing. The growers get locally grown plugs. And the dinner or consumer gets to say that they ate “Jersey Grown” in the winter. There is nothing like a salad or dish prepared with fresh harvested greenhouse greens to improve your mood and remind you that spring is coming.
If you are interested in having us seed some winter greens for you (lettuce or an assortment) please let us know by Halloween this way we can ensure that we have enough seed or can get everything organized if seed is being provided. Succession plantings and harvests are also an option. The earliest that we have had “winter greens” for is December and the latest was early March. Two trays every three weeks for baby green production was an excellent decision for all parties involved. We love leafy greens – in case you can’t tell!
Whatever winter weather we get (or don’t get), we hope everyone has a restful and enjoyable time planning and preparing for upcoming spring season!