False Spring is the period of time in late January to early March when we get stretches of nice weather, as the light returns, in the PNW. In Grow Zone 8b, on Whidbey Island, we can go stretches without rain (I know..shocking, but it is true, especially in the Olympic Rainshadow). This can lead one to jumping the start line too early with in ground seeding. And then winter resumes, with more light freezes, lots of rain and often a light sprinkling of snow.
Last weekend I hosted my first seed swap and the amount of people that came to it was off the charts! People are excited to grow food this coming year.
But you can combat it by seeding things in your greenhouse, a pop up greenhouse, or in a sunny window inside. I recently did a new potting area for the homestead, using a dog run we got from a neighbor to keep the deer out. Before I had had it all in the orchard, which is fenced. However…we upped the chickens in there, and it led to issues. We feed them sunflower seeds as treats and it brought in many squirrels and chipmunks, who tore up our plants by burying the seeds. No sunflower seeds around, no issues. Worth a few hours work to move all the tables and pop up greenhouses over. This area sits in almost full sun. (We take the covers off of our pop ups in early summer, dry them, and store till late winter. This helps avoid UV damage and you get a longer life out of them.)
Spend these sunny days (or at least not raining) to get your garden ready. Weed, fix fences, get a potting area ready. Clean out your pots, see what you need to purchase, get your potting mix ready. Then, and only then, start some seeds. Use it as your reward to get seeding.
I prefer potting in 4″ pots, rather than cell trays, as I then don’t have to transplant up after the seeds germinate. It’s one less chore to have to remember to do. And the plants can develop a more rugged root system. The 4″ pots last 2 to 4 years (or more!) even though they appear thin when first using. I put them in 1020 trays to hold, and use a standard grow type soil (Sunshine Mix #4) that I add a bit of organic fertilizer to, in a large plastic bin I use (not in the picture, but is now).
What can you seed:
Herbs can be started this early. Most need awhile to get going, and earlier will give you big plants in summer. A few to consider –
Asparagus, from seed
Rhubarb, from seed
Strawberry, Alpine types
In early March start bush and pole beans, to give them a start, for the first planting. After that I will start in ground seeds, but it helps you avoid pests and give you a chance to avoid slugs/snails in March, and to have time to use Sluggo to get rid of them.