Be forewarned – cauliflower is a bit of a diva to grow well! It is not easy to grow because it does not tolerate the heat or cold well.
Cauliflower needs consistently cool temperatures to grow well, with temperatures in the 60’s, therefore it is not well-suited for hot or fickle climates.
When conditions are not ideal, cauliflower will not grow one single head, rather it will splinter and grow several smaller heads.
Start by planting the seeds ¼ -½” deep, about four to five weeks before the last frost. Transplant the seeds two to four weeks before the last frost of the spring, and select a site with at least six hours of full sun per day.
Space the transplants 18-24” inches apart, with 30” between each row. Make sure that you add compost to the soil before planting because fertile soil holds in moisture and allows for proper growth.
Cauliflower will grow best in a soil pH between 6.5 and 6.8.
You’ll want to start celery seedlings indoors, 8-10 weeks before the average date of the last frost.
First, soak seeds in warm water overnight, to reduce germination time, then sow the seeds ¼” deep. Harden off the seedlings before transplanting by putting them outdoors for 2-3 hours a day.
Transplant seedlings 10-12” apart when they are 6” high, into soil with compost worked into it.
Celery likes fertile soil, cool temperatures, and constant moisture, so be sure to mulch the soil, and keep temperatures between 55-70ºF throughout growing period. Water and fertilize soil consistently to keep it happy!
Peppers (jalapeno, habanero, & bell/sweet)
Growing peppers is a bit interesting, because you can start the seeds in paper towels, then transplant into soil to speed up germination!
Start by spreading seeds onto a wet paper towel. Fold the paper towel over, and lay it flat inside a Ziplock bag.
Seal the bag, leaving about 1” unsealed to allow oxygen in. Place the bag in a warm area of your kitchen or greenhouse – you’ll want the temperature to be about 85°, ideally.
Germination can take anywhere from a few days to a full month. During this time, make sure to keep the paper towels damp. Once the seeds sprout, they will be ready to transfer into seed pots.
The new seedlings will need at least 6 hours of daylight each day, so place them in a warm, sunny window to ensure that they grow sufficiently.
Start cucumber seedlings indoors three weeks before the last spring frost. Plant the seeds 1” deep into pots. Use a heat mat to keep soil at least 65ºF for germination.
When they are ready to transplant, choose a location that gets full sun. Mix compost into the soil, then transplant the plants 12” apart from each other.
Add a trellis to allow the vine to climb, and to protect the fruit from damage from lying on the moist ground.
Mulch to hold in soil moisture, and water frequently, increasing to a gallon per week after fruit forms. At this point, you’ll want to side-dress the plants with compost as well.
Start planting tomatoes about six weeks before your average last frost, putting two to three seeds into each pot and covering with about ¼” of soil.
The seeds will germinate best at temperatures around 70°F, and you might consider using a heat mat to speed up the process.
Use a grow light about 1” above the plant when seedlings emerge, and start thinning when seedlings are about 1” tall. Use a spray bottle to water them so you don’t accidentally displace seeds.
Select the strongest, healthiest seedling and use a pair of scissors to snip off the others at the soil line.
Transplant 2 weeks after the average last spring frost, when you can be sure temperatures are warm enough. Use row covers to keep warm at night.
Sprout lettuce in a large 4” pot. Lettuce grows rapidly, so the larger pot means that it’s easier to accommodate it as it grows.
Use a cold frame to protect your baby lettuce if you plan to put the seedlings out in March before the weather has turned warm.
A Few Other Things to Try
If you’re really dedicated, you can make your own fertilizer by planting comfrey in a spare corner of your garden, towards mid- to late-March.
Plant asparagus crowns in fertile, permanent beds – they can’t be moved around, they must be planted where they will stay.
You could also consider growing Jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes), onions, garlic, shallots, and rhubarb once the soil is workable.
I’d like to hear from you!
Do you think you’ll try to grow any seedlings in March? Which ones?