I live in a desert frost pocket which means we have a very wide
day-to-night temperature variation. It looks like we've finally had the
last of our spring frosts, but the minimum's are still down in the 40's
(F.). I don't have a shade on my thermometers, so don't have reliable
maximums, but they must be in the 90's most recent days. That, along
with extreme drought (normal this time of year here), makes getting a
spring garden started a challenge and some things won't mature before
frost if I wait for the more moderate temperatures that come with our
midsummer monsoons. (Some things do fine planted in July and I continue
It is warm enough now that I can't sprout oats for my chickens outside
any longer. The oats still sprouts fine on my kitchen counter these days
because we open the house up at night to cool it off and close it up
during the day, thus keeping the inside temperature in the 70 to 75 F.
range. (We have a straw bale house so it is well insulated, but large
containers of chicken food in the kitchen sure are a bother.) I look
forward to the monsoons when the chickens will have plenty of weeds and
grasshoppers to eat and I'll stop growing oats grass for them until
Because of the low over night temperatures and dry conditions, I
pre-sprout such warm-weather crops as common beans, lima beans, cow peas,
tepary beans, sorghum, and corn. I've had good luck with them by soaking
overnight then rinsing a few times a day until they start sprouting
(basically the same method I use for the chicken oats). I like to get
them into the ground quickly after the shoots start coming out so I don't
damage the shoots. This year, one batch of cow peas (Bisbee Black) was
mostly sprouted within 36 hours, which caught me off guard. Other things
took a little longer.
But I have a question about New Zealand spinach (Tetragonia
tetragonioides). In many years of gardening in the Arizona desert, I've
gotten it started only once or twice. Once it started, I had salads
galore until frost. Right now, I have some in a small container of water
in the house, and the seeds don't even seem to be absorbing water. I cut
a "horn" off a couple of seeds thinking they need scarifying, but still
see no indication they might sprout (or even swell up) any time soon.
Are there specific temperature requirements? Should I put them in my
greenhouse which gets up around 100 F during day time and down to about
70 at night this time of year? (I could close up the greenhouse and get
it even hotter--right now I'm using it as a walk-in vegetable and herb
drier.) Any other ideas?
My mother gardened in a dry part of Kansas where the winters are colder
and the summers hotter than we get where I am now. But the day-night
variation wasn't as extreme as we have here and the rainfall was spread
out a little more through the year. She had a small patch of New Zealand
spinach which re-seeded year after year and I remember really liking it.
I look forward to any suggestions. --Edna Weigel
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