March: All-You-Can-Eat Salad

March is my favorite month to garden in the hoop house. As we strip off our winter coats and mittens, we roll back row covers and open doors to the warming air. Spinach, kale, and lettuce plants, dormant through the winter, begin to grow in earnest again. Nighttime temperatures still dip below freezing and give everything that sweet, cold-weather flavor. So salad has been a twice-daily menu item at our house.

Quality control: my helpers love to sample each type of plant. The favorites this week are arugula and dill weed.

But the bok choy and arugula have begun to bolt, sending up the flower stalks that signal the beginning of the end for winter vegetables in the hoop house. My tomato, pepper, and eggplant seedlings are reaching for light from their south-facing windowsill; they still have time to grow before it’s warm enough to transplant them into the hoop house with protective walls of water.

Walla Walla Onions (with lettuce on either side, and carrots in the background) started by seed in October. I’ll transplant the onion clusters out of the hoop house in May to give them more space.

Outside the hoop house, the 60 degree weather has finally melted the last snow drifts. October-planted garlic is peeking up through the straw, the strawberry leaves are turning green, and my ongoing war with the crabgrass has resumed. The first arugula seedlings have appeared. The garden is warming up for its summer bounty…

But for now, we eat salad. Lots and lots of salad.

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