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As winter is winding down, we’re all tired of being cooped up inside. We get a few warm days when we can wander around the yard and wish we could plant something, just to get a jump-start on spring. While we can’t plant tomatoes and peppers yet, there is a surprising amount of things that can be started now.
Start Seeds Indoors
You can start seeds inside to give them a head start. Make a mini-greenhouse. Take a paper towel and wet it really well. Slip it inside of a zipper sealed bag. Add your seeds to the top of the paper towel and seal the bag. Make sure there is enough air inside to puff up the top. I started peas on Monday, and by Friday, the roots were over 6 inches long. Peas? Sure! They love cool weather. Get them started now and by the time the warmer days of March begin, you have long vines. Sometimes they need warmer days to flower, but it won’t be long. (Buy organic and heirloom seeds here to help you get started.)
What To Plant Outdoors
Early every year, as soon as the ground can be worked, I set out radish seeds. I live in the mountains of North Carolina now, and winters tend to be mild here. But I come from some of the roughest country there is to try to plant – Minnesota. When the snow melts and the ground is soft enough, get out there! You can get those radishes going, and much more. How about cabbage? All of the brassicas – cabbage, kale, brussel sprouts, broccoli – can all be started now. Spinach, kohlrabi, swiss chard and all of the lettuces can be started now too.
Lettuce has always puzzled me. It seems so delicate, yet it stands up to frost, sometimes many times. I’ve been pulling lettuce from my garden for over a month now. I use the “cut and come again” method of growing. I snip the outside leaves while leaving the smaller ones inside to grow. If you harvest this way instead of pulling up the roots, your lettuces will keep giving you harvest after harvest. (Find tools, supplies, and advice for growing your organic garden here.)
So once you start getting lots of lettuce, there is often a need to find new recipes. Man (or woman) cannot live by salad alone! Here’s an old family favorite recipe for when you have an abundance of lettuce. It works well with chard, spinach, and some mustards too.
Wilted Lettuce Recipe
- 6-7 cups of lettuce, washed well and dried
- ½ cup vinegar
- ½ cup pure cane sugar
- ½ pound bacon
Chop or tear lettuce. Set aside. Mix vinegar and sugar together and set aside. Fry bacon and reserve oil. Cut bacon into small pieces. Toss lettuce and bacon into hot oil, pouring vinegar/sugar mixture over the top while stirring. Serve hot.
We used to love this treat. The lettuce would wilt and become coated with the sugar and oil. It was a wonderful sweet and salty combination on a cool spring day.