Growing Leafy Greens in a Hotbed
Row after row of new leafy greens are growing in my hotbed right now. Do you want to grow leafy greens early in a hotbed too? Keep reading to find out how.
There's just something special about taking the first new plants of the year to the garden. They almost seem infused with the anticipation and dreams about the new season. This bright, crisp green color definitely does something to me! I just need to finish my latest book about sustainable gardening, get away from the desk and go straight into the garden. I'm actually surprisingly low on new seedlings after the winter! I wanted to restrict myself a little this time and focus on balance. By now, I have all the plants in the hotbed outside and suddenly got more space indoors. Time to grow leafy greens and new little seedlings!
This post is about the vegetables that I prepared for my hotbed: leafy greens in a plug tray. Remember that you can use these types of plants for much more than just hotbeds. If you sow now, then you have plenty of seedlings that you can take to the greenhouse, put in sheltered spots in the beds outdoors, growing frames or pots later in spring. You might need to wait a few more weeks if you live further north than I do of course. But how do you go about growing leafy greens then? Keep reading to find out!
Plug Tray with 150 Cells
This is what we usually call a plug tray or seedling tray. This QuickPot one has 150 connected little cells. QuickPot is a German company that uses recycled plastic and sustainable energy to create their trays. The plug trays are very durable too and can last up to ten years.
The large 150-celled tray is my favorite one. I use it to grow lettuce, onion, cabbage, asparagus, chard and much more. I think I have six or seven of these by now. This is my favorite way to grow plenty of little seedlings in a smaller space, which is extremely valuable in my garden!
These plug trays also come with a little contraption that helps me push the seedling plugs out. It's simply put a tray covered with spikes, one spike for each cell in the plug tray.
I'm growing leafy greens of fifteen varieties in this plug tray, with ten plugs for each variety. This is such a great way to get a nice mix of seedlings. Here are the leafy greens I decided to grow here:
- Frillice iceberg lettuce
- Little Gem lettuce
- black kale
- Giant Winter spinach (didn't germinate)
- Lady Choi bok choy
- Color Crunch Blend bok choy
- Bonsai bok choy
- Chinese broccoli
- Siberian kale
- napa cabbage (only one seed germinated)
I also prepared seedlings of Italian parsley that I sowed in December, and the Lollo Bionda lettuce variety.
Bolting Bok Choy
The transplanting project was a few weeks delayed. Mostly because the construction work on the hotbed took longer than expected, and then I had to wait another week for warmer weather outside. Then of course, my bok choy bolted while I waited. I'm not happy about it! But I guess it is what it is.
Bok choy is a so-called short-day plant. If it gets stressed or too much sun, then it almost immediately bolts. Bok choy is the perfect plant for a hotbed since it grows so quickly. But of course, the timing needs to be there. I didn't get it right this time.
Alright! The lovely new plants are getting settled in the hotbed. We actually had a drop in temperature, 14 degrees (-10 degrees Celsius) the night after I planted them. I'm so happy that I covered my plants with a thick layer of straw and blankets before it happened!!
I decided to sow a bunch of new seeds in the hotbed too. For example spinach, thyme, arugula, bok choy and a few other things. The seedlings I planted here will be done first. I hope that the new sowings won't be too far behind though!
Grow Leafy Greens Early
I definitely recommend using a plug tray with smaller cells if you want to try growing leafy greens early this year. These plants actually prefer smaller cells and might not do as well in a larger space. The leafy green root systems are small, so don't worry about cramming them in there!
A plug tray with 150 or around 100 cells should be enough, but you can of course get a smaller tray too if you prefer that.
Use one row per vegetable and fill the entire tray. My idea is to grow an entire bowl of salad every time I sow, so I want to get a nice mix of different leaves. Let your taste buds decide what goes in your tray!
I'm going to talk more about the hotbed soon. Perhaps a fun springtime video with the first harvest of the season?
Do you want to know more about growing leafy greens early in your garden, on your balcony, the windowsill or outside in the greenhouse? Check out the links below to find out more!
Good luck growing leafy greens this spring!
PS. I have a fun new project in the pipeline this spring which is why my colleague Ida Sjöö helps me take pictures for the blog. She took all the pictures for this post. Don't forget to press/hoover over the pictures to read the captions.