The arrival of mid-February means that for nearly all of us the 10-hour days of sunlight have arrived again. Even for those of you further north those 10-hour days should be arriving soon.
What does 10 hours of sunlight mean for your garden?
The main benefit of the arrival of 10-hour days is plant growth. There are very few garden vegetables that grow with less than 10 hours of light. Now that the days are getting longer you will start to notice plants that are tucked into your cold frames and hoop houses are starting to grow again. Most of these plants will be leafy greens like spinach, chard, kale, and even lettuce that you have overwintered.
My overwintered spinach patch is a great example of this. I’m already starting to notice leaves are getting larger and holes left from heavy winter harvests are filling in! Temperatures are getting warm enough that I will be able to remove the extra layer of fabric row cover soon. Once that happens things will really take off!
For those of you who are fortunate enough to have a greenhouse. The longer days mean warmer temperatures inside the greenhouse. Now is the time to start thinking about cleaning things up and planting seedlings.
10 hour days also mean it’s time to think about things you can do to start getting some early spring crops planted. If your soil has had a chance to dry out a bit you might be able to slip out on a warm afternoon and plant your first spinach, chard, kale or even lettuce seeds directly sown in the garden. Those seeds may just sit un-germinated for a few weeks, but getting them out now will mean they are ready for that first real spurt of warm weather!
Another activity you can be doing now, to get an early spring start on your garden is warming your soil. This is a simple trick I learned years ago that will help you get spring started super early. To learn more about warming your soil read this post!
Indoor seed starting should be underway as well. Once those 10-hour days arrive in your garden again, warmer days will follow. It’s time to start seedlings for lettuce, broccoli, cabbage, and many more cool-season crops. Learn more about what seedlings you can be starting by reading these posts (January, February, March).
Now, I know that either here or on Facebook I will get comments about this post. “Oh, not for me, we are still months away from gardening”. But remember that I am in a warm zone 5b. And I can pull it off. I want to encourage you to start thinking about year-round gardening. No matter where you live once the 10-hour days arrive in your garden, there is something you can be doing!
To learn more about year-round gardening please check out my Year Round Gardening video course.