Planting continues in the garden this week. Last week we planted peas by sowing seeds directly into the garden. This week we will be transplanting winter greens.

Last week’s peas still have not made an appearance… even with the warm weather we have had this week. Soil temperatures in February are still chilly, and it takes longer for seeds to germinate. This is the reason why we are doing transplants this week. While peas will eventually come up even in a cold ground, other seeds struggle with cool soil temperatures.

Plants like arugula, cabbage, cilantro, collard greens, dill, kale, and mustard are best added to the garden as transplants until the soil temperature warms up. We started our winter greens seedlings back in December, and they are ready to go into the garden. If you don’t have seedlings on hand, and do not want to pay for them, we will still be able to sow these seeds directly into the garden in March when the soil warms up.

My transplants suffer from a common problem with home grown wintertime seedlings… they are leggy. That means the plant is taller and weaker than it should be, and they may even fall over. This occurs when the plant does not get enough direct sunlight, and the plant reaches toward the light. Leggy transplants don’t do as well as healthy ones. If your transplants are leggy, consider adding a growing lamp and giving the seedlings 12-16 hours of light each day.

If your transplants are leggy, all is not lost. Many seedlings can be planted deep with soil up to the first set of leaves. This will put much of the leggy-ness underground, where hopefully it will grow roots and help the plant thrive. Some veggies are better at this than others. Tomatoes actually benefit from a deeper planting. These winter greens, however, can be hit or miss when planted deeper to combat leggy-ness. Sometimes, the stem can rot underground, which will kill the plant.

Some of the plants we will be adding this week are already in the garden. We planted winter greens in the fall and have been enjoying them all winter long. The seedlings planted today will grow faster with warmer weather and will mature in March and April. One of the reasons that we plant these veggies so early is because they prefer cooler weather and are a target of insects that will devour these plants in May and June.

Our smaller plants like arugula and kale should be planted 4-6 inches apart. The larger plants like collards, cabbage, dill, and mustard should be planted 12 inches apart. These seedlings will be able to handle frost or a light freeze, and by this point in February, our coldest weather of the winter is likely behind us. Watch these seedlings take off once we start to get warmer weather.