Planting early leads to quicker harvests

  • —Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • —Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • —Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • —Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Farmer John’s Plot Farm Director Jasen Woodworth examines greens growing in one of the Dublin farm’s greenhouses. Farmer John’s Plot Farm Director Jasen Woodworth examines greens growing in one of the Dublin farm’s greenhouses.

  • —Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Monday, February 20, 2017 11:13PM

Stepping into one of the six greenhouses at Farmer John’s Plot in Dublin is like stepping into a different climate. The air is balmy. The ground is moist. Green things are growing.

In reality, the greenhouses are kept at temperatures only slightly below 70 degrees – though the high humidity makes it feel much hotter. 

Farmer John’s runs their operation year-round with assistance from their greenhouses, said Farm Director Jasen Woodworth. Some of their crops they plant directly, and others get their start in seed pods in order to hasten their time from ground to harvest. If you’re looking to get an early start on your gardening, here is Woodworth’s advice.

“Thirty days of early growing might mean you can harvest two weeks earlier,” said Woodworth. “And that might mean the difference between harvesting a crop and losing it to the first frost of the fall.”

Farmer John’s uses seed pods of various sizes to start their crops. The smallest space is in the 72-cell plastic trays. When the crops outgrow them, they can be moved to 38-cell trays, which have more room in them to grow. 

“The less time you have them in a container, the better,” said Woodworth, about when to transfer your seedlings to a bigger pot. He recommended no more than four weeks in each size before moving up a size. If you notice the roots of your seedling circling at the bottom of the pod, you’ve likely left it too long, and the plant is more likely to take additional time adapting to its new environment once it’s put in the dirt.

Plastic trays are a good way to start your garden, said Woodworth, because they don’t take up much room – they can be a windowsill garden or raised in an out-of-the-way spot. 

And if you want a crop that you can grow continually indoors, suggested Woodworth, a solid, flatbed tray can be used to grow microgreens of just about any kind of brassica green, which can be continually trimmed with scissors and used as garnishes or filling for sandwiches.

And if you’re interested in pre-starting your plants because they don’t typically grow well in your garden, said Woodworth, be quicker to blame your soil quality than a black thumb. To help keep your garden full of the nutrients it needs, use grass clippings to organically give back to the soil, or cut plants at the root instead of pulling them out, leaving the roots to rot. And a soil test is a quick way to determine just what your garden needs – they can be done through UNH Cooperative Extension or a commercial operation like Logan Labs.

The best crops to start in February: Herbs, flowers, onions, celery, peppers, tomatoes.

The best crops to start in March: kale, lettuce, broccoli

Difficult to transplant: beets, carrots, peas


Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.