Mustard Greens Still Going Strong

Tipper cutting from bed of mustard greens

The mustard greens I planted last fall are still going strong. When I harvest them, I cut only the leaves leaving the roots in the ground to grow more leaves.

Their pretty green color is a bright spot in the dreariness of February in the mountains.

I’m already working towards the spring and summer garden.

Last year I tried planting my pepper plants inside so that I could start them a little sooner in an effort to get peppers earlier in the summer. The sun doesn’t sufficiently reach our greenhouse this time of the year so I can’t really start them in there during February.

I thought if I got some grow lights I could start them in the basement. Living on the north side of the mountain none of our windows get sufficient light to grow things in or near them.

My problem with the basement was since we let the fire die out at night the temperature fluctuated down there so much that I didn’t really accomplish anything by starting them earlier. They grew so slowly I might have well as waited on the green house.

This year I decided I would move the lights upstairs where the temperature stays more stable. As I was looking for a shelf to hold the growing enterprise I found a lighted shelf made especially for starting seedlings. It’s sort of a mini-greenhouse with wire shelves that have lighting and a plastic cover that holds the heat in.

On the advice of readers and viewers I also purchased heated grow mats to put under the seedlings.

I’m so excited. I can’t wait to see if the peppers do better this go round. I also started cabbage and kohlrabi seedlings. I’ve always direct sowed my beets, but they take so long to germinate I decided to try starting a few of them inside this year too.

Last night’s video: Getting Kilt or Killed Dead in Appalachia.


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  • Reply
    February 10, 2022 at 1:35 pm

    Great blog today – as usual – Tipper.

    I think you got some good advice. I’ve used regular florescent tubes successfully to start seeds inside in the past, as was mentioned.

    I want to thank you publicly for sharing my email address with Ed Ammons. We are distant cousins linked through both his mother’s and his father’s families.

  • Reply
    February 10, 2022 at 11:59 am

    Tipper, I am so looking forward to your garden videos this year and all of your videos. I just know you’ll have a wonderful garden.

  • Reply
    February 10, 2022 at 10:43 am

    Sounds like you have a good set up to get your seeds growing. I need a green light, but haven’t purchased one yet. I’ve always put them next to our window and turn them around a couple of times each day to keep them growing straight. A growing light would be so much easier! I’ll be excited to read how your seeds turn out and if the plants do better in the garden because of the grow light. Hoping all the best for a bountiful garden for you and all the rest of us that like to try to grow our own veggies.

  • Reply
    Sharon Cole
    February 10, 2022 at 10:13 am

    I am not a gardener, but love fresh veggies. So, we support our local farmers and usually get some delicious vegetables. Looking forward to your garden videos this year! Take care and God bless

  • Reply
    Bill Dotson
    February 10, 2022 at 9:36 am

    Dad always cut the tops off our sweet potato plants before frost, said the frost would go down to the potato and ruin it.

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    February 10, 2022 at 9:35 am

    Wish I had a mess of greens! They would be so good this time of year.

    I’m lookng forward to the garden, too. I have a little greenhouse with plastic cover one the back porch. I always enjoy seeing the seeds come up and usually they become good plants but last year none of my little ones did any good. I had used some paper cups from a thrift type store and my son thought they might have affected the plants. They refused to grow even when it got warmer & I put them out in the sun. Anyway, I think I’ll be ready to try again maybe next month!

    I so enjoyed your You Tube about “Kill” and “Kilt” . It made me think about the saying “half dead”.

  • Reply
    February 10, 2022 at 9:22 am

    My daughter bought me an Aero Garden for Christmas, and I have been enjoying the six varieties of lettuce that came with it. The garden is a little water-filled container that holds pre-seeded cones that fit in holes. The adjustable top is filled with the brightest LED lights I have ever seen. When the lettuce is gone, I am going to try starting my tomato plants in there before moving them to my 3’X5′ plastic-covered greenhouse.
    Ron, mom loved raising sweet potatoes more than anything else in the garden. I have helped cut many vines when a frost was predicted and we didn’t have time to dig the truckload of potatoes. If mom woke up to a surprise frost, we had to work fast to cut the vines before the sun came up and ruined the entire crop.

    • Reply
      February 10, 2022 at 1:31 pm

      Hi Shirl,
      Our daughter and son-in-law gave us an Aero Garden. We have been eating salads from it with only brief breaks after one crop bolts and another grows. The wife told me just this morning that she found the seed pods on Amazon which means they’ll get here in a couple of days instead of weeks when ordered.

  • Reply
    Dena Westbrooks
    February 10, 2022 at 9:01 am

    Hi Tipper,
    Buy plain old fluorescent shop lights and suspend over your germinated plants.
    Some people buy those expensive colored grow lights. Waste of money. I grow hundreds of peppers, tomatoes, herbs, flowers this way on my glassed in porch on racks. After second leaf forms I repot and move to my little homemade greenhouse that is heated with wood. I also grow native azaleas this way from seed.
    Sounds like you are well on your way to another awesome garden.
    I also use heat mats it helps your plants germinate twice as fast.

  • Reply
    February 10, 2022 at 8:58 am

    Grow lights and heat mats are a game-changer, especially for peppers. I live in the deep south now and start my peppers in January. I have to step them up a time or two, but it’s worth it, especially for the hot peppers – they take longer than sweet peppers.

    Your mustard greens look wonderful! I didn’t plant anything for fall/winter this year – so many regrets. Last year, we had such a mild winter that if it didn’t bolt early, the bugs were infesting it.

  • Reply
    Margie G
    February 10, 2022 at 8:18 am

    I got a grow light last year and when I took my plants to transplant etc, they mostly died. This year I’m gonna calm down. I found a nursery that sells plants patients help grow at a local mental hygiene facility. Last year I had very good luck with those purchases. Cross pollination of peppers and tomatoes is something I can’t wait to see, but as we all know there’s a bit of a “mad” scientist in my head busting to get out! Last year I thought what bizarre peppers. I put California Wonder, banana and one more all close and they got pretty weird in a wonderful way!!!! And the butterfly bush from Cottage Farms will be getting a friend this year- it was so amazing last year I want 2! I watched every sort of bee, wasp, butterfly, Hummer and moth on there you could imagine!

    • Reply
      February 10, 2022 at 1:28 pm

      Margie, I’m not a gardener but I do grow plants in containers. As I understand it (others will correct me), you have to ‘harden’ your indoor seedlings by introducing them to Nature’s conditions gradually. I’ve been known to set them outside in the sun if it’s not too cold. and bring them back before the sun drops and cold comes on. This means that you have to be careful in how you group seeds and seedlings as some will need to be hardened earlier than others.

  • Reply
    Denise R
    February 10, 2022 at 7:59 am

    I always start my peppers in March along with tomatoes, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant and some flowers. It helps to take tone down the spring fever and it saves money since seeds are cheaper. Last year I started saving seeds from various plants, so I know there will be cross pollination between the varieties of peppers and tomatoes, but hey, I’ll either have a franken variety or something new that I just might like better than the originals!
    I use led grow lights, place my rack over a furnace vent and put my pepper seeds on the bottom shelf so that they get the most heat. So far it’s worked for me, but I have thought about buying heated seed mats and see if it can help, but at $25 to $32 for small mats kinda deters my purchasing idea.

    • Reply
      February 10, 2022 at 8:49 am

      Look for heat mats or any gardening supplies in the off-season. I picked up a 2-mat set for under $20.00 on Amazon. I ordered those mats at the end of October.

      • Reply
        Denise R
        February 11, 2022 at 10:58 am

        Thank you Staci for that info, I’ll check it out later this fall!

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    February 10, 2022 at 7:57 am

    I predict with your experience your trial will be a great success. And with your grow light and a heated mat I much believe you could use the basement next year. The heated mat would overcome the air temperature changes, especially since you will have a cover. I predict you will be wanting more room.

    I tried the same thing once some years ago in the unheated crawl space under the house. I have never checked but I figure the temperature stays around the high 50s and does not change much. I put the grow light on a timer and used a regular electric heating pad and covered it with a garbage bag (probably not very safe since I had to water the seedlings!). Anyway, it worked fine. The plants grew so much they were trying to get too big before I could outplant them though.

    Before I forget, I have been wanting to ask you something. In “Mountain Path” Rye and the kids are cutting the tops off of the sweet potatoes early in the morning to keep the frost from getting back.into the potatoes and causing them to rot. I had never heard of that but some years ago I threw away two wheelbarrow loads of sweet potatoes after the tops got frosted on. Had you ever heard of that cutting the tops off in your area?

    • Reply
      February 10, 2022 at 8:00 am

      Ron-I found that part of the book interesting too. I have never heard of anyone doing that, but I’ve mostly been around gardens that had arsh potatoes instead of sweet. Hopefully if any other readers are familiar with the process they will tell us about it 🙂

      • Reply
        Ron Stephens
        February 10, 2022 at 8:56 am

        Well, I just went and did a search for “cutting sweet potatoes tops off after frost to.prevent rot” and it took me straight to:

        It’s official, not that I doubted Mrs. Arnow. I was just puzzled as to.why I did not know that since I do recall as growing sweet potatoes when I was a boy.

      • Reply
        Ed Ammons
        February 10, 2022 at 10:42 am

        Arsh tater tops will die back before the danger of frost comes so except for when a very very early frost might affect them. The sweet tater is like their family member the morning glory, they want to keep growing ’til frost kills them. You dig sweet taters when they are big enough no matter what the vines are doing. If the tubers don’t get big enough to dig before frost then you ain’t lost nothing.
        Sweet tater tops can be cut and fed to livestock. You can even make it into silage or dry it into hay. Arsh tater tops on the other hand are poisonous to man and beast.

  • Reply
    Martha D Justice
    February 10, 2022 at 7:42 am

    Wishing you success starting your seeds

  • Reply
    February 10, 2022 at 7:41 am

    I love that you are excited about starting seeds and gardening. I cannot imagine NOT gardening. When a tiny seeds springs up from the ground, turns into a plant and produces a fruit, vegetable or flower, well that is a miracle from God. There is much of His creation displayed in a garden if we just open our eyes and look for it. Nature never ceases to amaze me.

  • Reply
    Sanford McKinney
    February 10, 2022 at 7:34 am

    Botanical Name: Brassica oleracea
    Common Names: Kohlrabi; German turnip
    Mature Size: 18 inches tall, 18 to 24 inches wide

    • Reply
      February 10, 2022 at 7:59 am

      Sanford-thank you 🙂

  • Reply
    February 10, 2022 at 7:31 am

    What a beautiful and uplifting picture! I love seeing that picture of mustard, because it is one of my favorites and stands up so well until the coldest days of Winter. The foods we love are usually the things our parents cooked when we were growing up. Mom fried her mustard until dry, and she always had a big pan of cornbread.
    I found out quite by accident after turning the flower bed at back of house into a vegetable patch. One area tucked safely under the steps has mustard and kale through most of the cold months. A family member loves to call me eccentric partially because of my absolute dedication and love for all things gardening. I think he keeps expecting me to have pictures of colorful vegetables mounted on my living room walls. I had to buy a fresh batch of kale yesterday because the cold finally bit the greens, but I keep these sowed so won’t be long. All those years I never learned to trim large leaves or side leaves to keep the plant intact until my dear neighbor taught me that trick. The walking onions are also a hardy survivor of the harshness of Winter. Sadly, young people still ask me what my greens are when I check out. 🙂

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    February 10, 2022 at 7:06 am

    Tipper, I saw your new fancy set-up there in the living room yesterday, it’s a dandy! It’s got the lights and the plastic cover to keep the warmth in. You’ve already got little plants coming up. I predict that it’s going to be a bumper crop this year!
    I am excited for you!

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