March 12, 2012

Planting Early Sweet Peas Under Cloches

CLOCHES ARE SET OUT, ALL STEAMED UP FROM THE DAMP, SOIL, AS THE AIR QUICKLY CHILLS DOWN FOR THE EVENING IN MID-MARCH. WE CAN STILL GET SNOW ( IT SNOWED YESTERDAY!). NOTICE THE EDGEWORTHIA IN THE POT NEAR THE GREENHOUSE, IT IS ALMOST IN BLOOM.

As we are experiencing a mild spring, I am planting a few of my Spencer exhibition cut-flower Sweet Peas out early, in mid-March, taking a chance since temperatures are expected to remain in the 50's and 60's all week, and in the 40's at night. I am experimenting with a few of the new plastic cloche's you be seeing in a number of the seed catalogs and garden supply stores, to see how well they work, and to see if I can find a way to use them effectively.



SOME OF THE SWEET PEAS ARE ALREADY 4 INCHES TALL, THESE I WILl HARDEN OFF OUTDOORS, AND TRY SOME UNDER CLOCHES, AS THE ROOTS ARE ALREADY REACHING THE BOTTOM OF THE ROOTRAINERS.

 These cloche's remind me of the old-fashioned 'Hot Kap's" brand of waxed paper hot caps that my mom and dad used to use in the 1960's (in this same garden!), but those where only used on cabbage seedlings, and occaisionally on early brocolli. Those were used only in certain spring conditions, when, like this year, the snow melted early and one wanted to plant earlier crops, but wanted to keep the soil from freezing near the seedlings. My guess is that these new plastic cloche's will over-heat fast if the weather becomes any warmer, for the sun is already so strong,



Fergus try's to help me, as I set out seedlings of English Sweet Peas into the garden. He can't seem to stay out of pictures, or from getting his nose into everything that we do.
 I figure that they are worth a try, and maybe the little vents at the top will help keep these cooler, after all, it is still mid March. Joe has directions to remove them if the daytime temps start to reach above 65 degrees F., for even tiny vents wont keep the young plants from roasting inside, but seeing that the soil is still cool, and frozen in some places, these may provide just enough protection from night-time freezes, and chilly days.
As the evening air chills down, the cloches steam up from the condensation caused by the damp, moist air within. Night time temperatures should remain just above freezing under the cloche, but on sunny days, they will need to be removed, even though they have vents on the top.
In the coops out back, the geese and the ducks are providing us with way too many eggs, we can hardly keep up with poached eggs in the morning.

Other seedlings are emerging, these, in the greenhouse, as they prefer cooler germination temperatures, near 50 degrees. Dianthus barbatus, or more commonly known as Sweet Williams, are common old-fashioned biennial, often best grown as annuals if sown early. This new hybrid however, is a tall strain, perfect for cut flowers, with stems nearly 40 inches tall. Sweet Williams are also a plant that resents transplanting, so seeds are sown with care, one or two to a 4 inch pot, and eventually thinned to just one before carefully being slipped out of its container into the cool, spring garden.


5 comments :

  1. I've seen the plastic domes and they seem interesting, but I live in windy Kansas and I really suspect they will just be blown away. I'd love to find some old glass ones though.

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  2. Hey Diggity - it's windy here too - 50 MPH over the weekend. these came with metal spike with hooked edges, that pierce the rim, and act like stakes into the soil. Not dog proof, but pretty stable in the wind, especially since the rim is also covered with soil.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Interesting domes that help plants grow. Haven't tried them. Maybe I should.

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  4. So far the cloches are working out great. It's been unseasonably warm, and I thought that the plants might roast with the 70 degree temps, but the soil is still cool, and I think that helps. The vents in the top are working well.

    ReplyDelete
  5. For plastic, those cloches are fairly attractive — especially if they really work.

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