Get ready to get ready to plant a vegetable garden.
Note that I said “get ready to get ready,” because the weather is too unpredictable this time of year to proceed with gusto. In the past I have spent money on new plants and seeds, only to slog around in a winter coat for another two weeks. The late February frost is a recent reminder of how cold (or hot) weather can sneak up on us like a tawny tiger.
I’ll be growing snow peas again soon. This was not my plan. However, I decided to sprout seeds to show my kindergarten class what stems, roots and sprouts look like in real life. Growing seeds was easy. The difficult part was telling the children in my class that they could look but could not touch.
On the day I brought to seedlings to class, I also packed a lunch of kiwis, apples, oranges, blueberries, green beans and avocado. If I went to the trouble of growing seeds, I might as well bring a lunch that showed the variety of seeds found within our foods. The children appeared very interested, but maybe they were just hungry.
Bringing my enthusiasm for plants to the classroom is a bonus. I’ve bored so many friends with my endless garden chat, it’s good that I’ll have a fresh batch of children each year who have not heard my stories. (Hopefully, I’ll actually receive a job offer once I finish college.)
After the seed and plant lesson, it was onward to the acorn dance. My group of bright lights spread out their arms while standing on our classroom carpet. “Trees need space to grow,” I said like a distant voice in the forest as children bumped their way into tree equilibrium.
A few students decided they were jumping trees, perhaps inspired by “Groot” from the film “Guardians of the Galaxy.”
“Trees that jump might need to be sent to the edge of the forest,” I said at one point.
Any lesson wouldn’t be complete without an assessment of learning. In this case, the students drew a picture of the growth sequence of a tree and wrote a sentence about what they had learned. (I was very impressed by what those smarties remembered).
“I learned that oak trees don’t move,” one student wrote.
Taking work home
Now, my kitchen countertop is filled with snow pea plants in various stages of growth.
If you want to clutter your countertop as well, here’s the easy steps I followed:
Buy seeds in bulk at Northern Star Mills along The Esplanade. Use a shallow dish and place a wet paper towel in the dish. Place a few seeds in the dish, uncovered, and keep the towel moist. After several days, you should have peas sprouts. The sprouts can be placed in a plastic bag or small pot filled with soil.
Snow peas, just like kindergartners, grow rather quickly. After another week, the plants will be ready to move to a sheltered spot outdoors (the garden perhaps).
I bought bush-style beans so I won’t need to use a trellis. However, a wire support such as a tomato frame will make it easy to dig around for the peas.
Snow peas are a cooler-season crop, which means they’ll be done by the time Chico’s summer heat blasts our visions of tender green vegetables.
The UC Davis planting guide for this region recommends only transplanting greens such as lettuce and spinach during March and April. If you hoped to plant lettuce by seed outdoors, you may have run out of time.
The same garden guide gives a thumbs-up for planting cucumber seeds outdoors right about now. (For squash, you can wait another month).
I’d love to hear your recipes for kale. I’ve been eating it raw in the yard, as well as cooked with lemon. However, there’s a lot more of the green stuff growing in my black, plastic truck bed liner filled with soil.
Follow garden enthusiast Heather Hacking on Twitter and Facebook. To send your regards, firstname.lastname@example.org, and snail mail, P.O. Box 5166, Chico, CA, 95927.