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Packets of spinach and radish seeds

Packets of spinach and radish seeds

Today, April 4, I sowed a packet of spinach seeds (Bloomsdale Long Standing) and a row of radish seeds (Cherry Belle).  They both went into the same type of rectangular black plastic container that houses the lettuce seedlings.

Radishes are supposed to be one of the easiest crops to grow.  They are widely recommended as the perfect way to introduce young children to gardening.  Maybe it was just that I took them for granted but my first round of radishes last summer were far from perfect.  I didn’t learn until well into the season that it is essential to sow radish seeds in a slightly raised ridge and only barely covered in soil. The container looks like it can fit a single row of radishes and following package directions I aimed to have the seeds spaced one centimeter apart.  Eventually I’ll thin them to 4 centimeters apart.

Once the soil level was topped up the radish seeds went into a ridge on the right

Once the soil level was topped up the radish seeds went into a ridge on the right

The ridge stays warmer than the rest of the garden (or container) and therefore helps with faster growth and even germination.  If small-type radishes–with the familiar round ball shape versus the elongated missile shape of french breakfast and eastern european radishes–take more than four weeks in the ground to mature they will probably be woodier and hotter than is ideal.  Seeds of small round radish cultivars need to be sown close to the surface because if sown any deeper than a few millimeters they will struggle to produce round evenly-shaped (edible) roots.

Spinach is supposed to be another easy-to-grow hardy crop, ideal for extending the growing season on both ends.  This is my first year with spinach so we’ll see.  The spinach went into its own black plastic container.  Because its by itself in there and I think it unlikely that it will need any weeding I didn’t bother with rows and instead just broadcast the seeds, trying to stick to the package’s directed two and a half centimeters (one inch) spacing.

The container waiting for soil and broadcasted spinach seeds

The container waiting for soil and broadcasted spinach seeds

Like other crops grown for their leaves–like lettuce and many herbs–spinach leaves become less palatable when the plants go to seed or “bolt” and therefore the longer this can be put off the better.   Unfortunately, the farmers who develop new cultivars of spinach have done such a good job that unless very specific conditions happen to materialise in the fall spinach seed can be hard to come by.  So, if you see a packet of a desirable cultivar (like this Bloomsdale Long Standing) snap it up.

Hopefully the radishes will be ready to eat in three or four weeks (before the end of April) and the spinach will be ready for some selective picking a couple weeks later (in the middle of May).

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