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Posts Tagged ‘seed starting’

060A few weeks ago, we had several days of sub-freezing temperatures, and my fall/winter garden took quite a hit.  The only survivor is a patch of baby collards.

While I know the kale and mustard will come back once the temperatures warm up a bit, I found myself missing being able to add freshly grown greens to my meals.  It was past time to turn on the seed table!

I started off planting only lettuce and microgreens.

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Next up was the spinach and turnip greens.

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The seed table is starting to fill up!

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Today I started a big bucket of sugar snap peas; they’re hiding from view, on the bottom shelf.

The plants in these pots and buckets won’t grow as big as those planted in a garden bed, but they’ll be fresh and tender and delicious in salads and smoothies! And hopefully tide me over until the weather’s nice enough to grow things outside.

What’s in your garden?

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007

In contrast to last weekend’s cold, wintry weather,  this weekend was balmy and spring-like.  I took advantage of the sunny conditions and let my seedlings sit outside for the day.  They loved the sun!

Everything seems to be growing nicely.   The peppers, pictured above, are getting big enough to transplant to larger containers.

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Last weekend, I moved the first flat of tomatoes to larger pots and gave them a dose of fish emulsion.  It looks like the seedlings have already doubled in size.  The second flat of tomatoes, started last weekend, are already sprouting.

I also started a flat of squash last week, and the zucchini, below, is beginning to appear.

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My snow peas and sugar snaps had grown so big, I just had to transplant them.  They are now living in pots, pictured below.

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Next weekend, I’ll start some green beans and eggplant.  And if I’m really brave, I’ll start the purple hull peas.

Until then, I’m hoping the rain lets up some so I can get in the garden beds to weed and dig in the cover crop so I’ll have somewhere to plant all these lovely seedlings!

 

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002

A pepper seedling!

So now I know the trick:  when seedlings aren’t germinating, just write a blog post and that will generate the extra energy necessary to get the seeds going.

This seedling is most likely a chocolate bell.  Here’s hoping at least one of the other varieties also sprouts.

 

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011

About two weeks ago, I put my new seed starting station to work and planted some tomato and pepper seeds, along with some spinach and lettuce.  This week, I started some snow peas and sugar snap peas.

I always start tomato seeds early, with the hopes of getting them good and tall before transplant time.  I’ve never gotten them more than a couple of inches tall before planting outside, but I keep hoping with a bit of tweaking (and a lot more fish emulsion), I’ll have them as tall as the nursery transplants.

When deciding which varieties of seeds to plant first, I use a very scientific method:  my intuition.  I just sort of ask the Universe which ones to start, and then I plant what seems to come up in my mind.  In addition, I also use some actual science, in that I know certain seeds have to be planted at certain times in order to grow well in this area.  I also rotate where I plant things.

In the flat of tomatoes, I planted the following varieties: German Johnson, Granadero and Black Krim.   About a week later, I saw my first seedling popping through the soil.  Now, most of the seeds have germinated and the baby plants are reaching toward the grow light.

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Unfortunately, the flat of pepper seeds looks quite different.

006Not hide nor hair of a seedling!  Like a child at Christmas checking presents under the tree, I kept going back to this flat, picking it up and investigating each little soil cell.   Finally, I decided that the first batch of seeds (which consisted of Sweet Chocolate and Golden Cal), wasn’t going to germinate.

So, thanking my lucky stars I had lots more seeds from which to choose, I tried again and used a bit different tactic.  I usually barely cover the pepper seeds with seed-starting soil. But the directions on the back of the seed packets said I could lay them on top of the soil.  So I decided to experiment and lightly covered some while laying others on top of the soil.

I know peppers like warm soil, so the thought crossed my mind that perhaps the soil wasn’t warm enough.  But that grow light keeps the soil warm to touch, and it even dries the soil out quickly, so I’ll wait a bit longer before pulling out one of my heat mats.  I don’t currently have the time to water the seedlings all during the day, so I can’t have them drying out too quickly.

Hopefully this batch will grow.  I planted the last of the Sweet Chocolates, some more Golden Cal, and a few rows each of Sweet Red Stuffing, Melrose, and Jimmy Nardello.   I haven’t grown any of these particular kinds of peppers before, and I’m looking forward to trying them.

I’m happy I bought a lot of seeds just because sometimes I don’t get good results.  I’d rather end up having too many plants to deal with than not enough.  Yes, I could go buy some transplants at the store — and I’ve had to do that with basil, of all things!  But buying vegetable plants feels a bit like cheating to me.  Plus stores don’t carry as wide of a variety.

At any rate, the spinach and lettuce are growing nicely.

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It’s about time to transplant some of those little buggers so they can grow bigger.  Good thing I have lots of pots that I can use indoors, since it’s so cold and wet outside.    I’m excited to see how the spinach does, since I don’t have luck with outdoor spinach.  I’d love to be able to grow it indoors continuously in the winter.

And lastly,  the snow peas and sugar snaps are beginning to sprout.  I may have jumped the gun on these guys since, as already noted, it is so cold and so very, very wet.  I figure the cold will end soon, but it’s the wet I worry about, especially since my soil is still 90 percent clay.   Worst case, I can bring in lots more soil and compost and build up the winter/spring garden areas, rather than digging too far down into the clay.

Next up, I’ll probably plant some squash and beans.   Oh … and there’s eggplant this year.  I haven’t had luck with that in the past, but maybe this year will be different!

What’s growing in your garden?

 

 

 

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008

We’re in line for another cold snap, so what better time to start some seeds indoors?

In the past, I used the dining room table to house my seed trays.  Using the dining room chairs, I propped up several homemade lighting structures given to me by a former gardener, and I was all set.

However this year, the dining room is off limits for pretty much all activity.  Seems one of my feral cats (I’m looking at you, Patches!) has taken the liberty of tearing apart the duct work under that room so that the heat now only warms up the crawl space.  The dining room is freezing!!!

I know that I have to fix the duct work and create a warm space for Patches that doesn’t involve my crawl space.  Unfortunately, I haven’t figured out what type of space to create, and I just don’t have the heart to take away Patches’ warm space right in the middle of winter.   So the easiest option was for me to find another place to grow my seeds.

A quick internet search on seed starting supplies sent me to Old Word Garden Farms and the article they wrote about building a seed-starting rack.   (Note that they also used their dining room table before building this structure!)

I then enlisted my woodworker friend J., who built the structure for me out of leftover wood he had from other projects.  I chose different dimensions for the shelf heights, but other than that, J. pretty much followed the plans linked above.

I have a very large dining room table, and I would stuff it full of seed trays, so I’m not sure how much extra space I gained.   But I know that I will love having a dedicated space for the seeds to grow.  And once I figure out the cat situation, I’ll actually be able to use my dining room!

Now… what to plant?

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002

In an effort to distract myself from the upcoming 10-degree weather, I pulled out my seed catalogs and started browsing.   Browsing, of course, led to purchasing.  Lots of purchasing!  Which now will lead to work.  Lots of work!

Yes, I

bought way more seeds than I  have space to plant in my garden.  But here’s my reasoning:

  • I bought only one small packet each of the fall seeds and many of the seedlings did not survive.  I’d rather have more seeds than less, since I can always plant the leftovers next year.
  • I like to plant several different varieties of things. Take beans, for example.  I’ve purchased four different varieties (Landreth Seedless, Mountaineer Half-Runner, Purple Podded Pole and Snow Cap from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds), though unfortunately I forgot to buy my standby favorite (yard-long noodles).
  • I like to can.  So I bought pickling cucumbers as well as slicing cucumbers from Johnny’s Seeds.  And paste tomatoes as well as slicing tomatoes.
  • I like to try new things, such as spaghetti squash, striped tomatoes and melons.  Technically, melons aren’t new to me, I just haven’t had luck with them.  But the description of  Collective Farm Woman Melon in the Cook’s Garden catalog caught my interest:  “With a peach-pineapple flavor, Ukrainian heirloom..”    Yum!  And speaking of “yum”:
  • I was looking at the catalogs before lunch and I was hungry.

So tonight, as the temperatures drop and the winds howl, I’ll be dreaming of warm sunshine, delicious vegetables and cheery flowers.

 

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After more time than I want to admit, I finally have my summer garden in the ground.

Well, almost. I still have to dig another bed out back for the leftover tomatillos and basil. And I have to get some more mulch. But I’m basically done and have just danced a jig.

So, you may ask, what’s growing?

1. At least six kinds of tomatoes, though I can’t say what kinds because I threw away the seed packets and my tape markers faded. I know there are some Danvers, some Granny Cantrells, some romas, and a yellow variety. Close to 100 plants. Last year I got some leaf blight and a lot of plants died, so I’m hoping this year gives better results.

2. Four varieties of green beans: two bush and two pole.

3. Lima beans and purple hull peas.

4. Corn, though I haven’t had too much luck. If I don’t have better results this year, I may leave corn out next year.

5. Peppers: green, jalapeno, cayenne, and some hot thai variety.

6. Tomatillos and okra.

7. Yellow squash and zucchini. These plants currently look great, but I usually have squash bug issues.

8. I’ve also got potatoes, snow peas, peas, and chard. There’s also garlic and lettuce which is, unfortunately, bolting.

I think that’s it.

Here’s one view of most of the front rows:

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Here’s another view:

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Here’s the limas and some marigolds that had reseeded in another area of my garden. I moved them outside the deer fence, since I think they are deer resistant. At any rate, they were free, and you can’t beat that price!

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Here’s one of my front beds outside the deer fence:

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And here are some boxes, also outside the fence:

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Here’s a pretty (for now) squash plant:

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And delicious goodness is right around the corner:

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And, though they aren’t veggies, the lilies are very pretty.

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Now to dig up the dead winter plants out back and put in cover crop. But that’s for another day…

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