Seeds


I have been very busy outside over the last week, not just in the garden but around the yard. I took a vacation day today to give me a four day weekend and really focus on cleaning up and preparing for the garden to take off. OK, so maybe my busiest week can’t hold a candle to my friend EG’s slowest, but I feel pretty accomplished!

Let’s start with last weekend. I planted the first round of broccoli plants outside; two Packman and two Fiesta. Those yellow leaves are dying off, but the plants seem to be okay otherwise.

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I’ve got two more younger plants of each under the lights for second planting next week, along with Snow Crown and Cassius cauliflower plants.

I’m happy to say that I see most of my seeds sprouting out there. I was concerned about the possibility of the squirrels having moved them around, but they seem to be coming up where I planted them for the most part. Here are some Harmony spinach seedlings:

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I can also see seedlings emerging of Space spinach, and Valmaine, Little Caesar, Victoria, and Buttercrunch lettuce. I’m still waiting for American Flag leeks, Evergreen Scallions, and Sweet Salad and Sugar Snax carrots to emerge.

The Sugar Snap and Blizard Snow peas have set deep roots and are starting to break the surface. I expect they’ll really start taking off this week.

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After getting all of these things in the ground we set our sights on setting up the PVC/string trellises for the peas and beans, and the metal trellises for the vining plants that will go in later. We also *borrowed* the idea to construct a PVC frame to hold bird netting and anything else we need to prop up over the plants. It looks like a boot camp training course out there now, but everything will eventually serve a purpose.

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Now on to this weekend. I started some zucchini seeds, and I have to high tail it to the store to get some yellow squash seeds, since I seem to have missed them when I placed my seed orders. I’ve potted up some more tomatoes and peppers, and now the only seedlings left to pot up are some small Orient Express eggplants and a couple Black Cherry Tomatoes that I had to start over after poor germination. There is absolutely no more room under the lights right now, so I’ll have to wait until I get the second batch of broccoli and cauliflower out into the garden to make room for the others.
I hate having to throw away perfectly good plants but I had too many tomatoes that germinated, so I had to thin things out. They all looked healthy too. It’s a shame.

The crappy plastic two tier 4×8 bed that I bought last year has 40 garlic plants in traditional soil on one side which are doing extremely well. I hit them with some liquid seaweed fertilizer today.

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Today, I cleared out the other side that I used last year for zucchini. I amended the soil with compost, and it is now waiting for the onslaught of onion plants I should be getting next week from Dixondale Farms.

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It’s hard to do much during the week after work, so next weekend the plan is to do some more yard maintenance and fine tune the bird netting setup, as right now it’s pretty hard to get access to the plants. I think what we’ll do is attach the netting on the long sides to 8′ 1×2 boards so we can easily lift up an entire side all at once. I also plan on planting the second round of broccoli, all the cauliflower, more carrot and spinach seeds.

Spring is in swing!!!

Caddyshack, anyone?

Of course I’m not going to blow up any squirrels with dynamite. I do, however, need to squirrel-proof my beds. I planted a lot of seeds on Saturday evening, and when I got up on Sunday the squirrels had already made a mess of everything. I had enough bird netting to cover one bed, and put down some lightweight fabric on the other one until I get more netting. I can’t wait to see where the seedlings pop up. I might need to start a “What the heck is this plant?” post soon so you can help me identify and relocate things back to their original spots. I love my squirrels, I really do. I was hoping that feeding them “the good stuff” would appeal to their good consciences and they’d leave my beds alone. I keep posing this question to them: “Don’t you respect me enough to stay on your own side of the yard and be content to eat the lovely gourmet meals I put out for you?” Something tells me they just don’t understand the concept of sharing space.

Assuming they managed to miss all of the seeds (highly unlikely), I will soon be seeing the following seedlings…..lettuce, carrots, spinach, scallions, leeks, snap peas. Varieties to follow.

The older plants under the lights are doing well, but I’m having problems with eggplant and tomato germination. I do have a few varieties that popped up, but even more that haven’t. I may have to do the paper towel technique because I think the problem has to do with the moisture levels in the seed tray. The first round of seeds that I started in the tray were great, but I also used the plastic cover to maintain moisture. Now, I have some small plants that are in the tray already, so I can’t cover it over. The cells dry out amazingly fast. Too fast for me to get a handle on them. I tried plastic wrap this time, but it wasn’t the same. I’ll give these seeds a few more days, but when the weekend comes I think I’m going to start over. Again. I really shouldn’t complain, I’ve had pretty good success so far for my first time. (I’ll add pictures later tonight….I’m slacking off at work and typing this up.)

The pepper seedlings are doing very well for the most part. And the broccoli and cauliflower plants look great too. I can’t wait to get them outside. If I can find time to start hardening them off this week I should be getting them in the garden this weekend.

Oh, I ordered a mix of storage onion plants from Dixondale Farms this week, too. I had started a few onions in the house, but I’ve come to realize that because of the height of the plants I can’t really effectively situate them under the lights without affecting the closeness to other plants. Dixondale has a great variety, and they ship small plants based on the frost dates for your zip code. I’m going to have a TON of them, since they send at least 5 dozen of each of the three varieties in the mix. I’ve read that people end up with closer to 100 plants a piece, though. So I’ll definitely be sharing with others! The great thing is the cost: $10.25 including shipping. I can definitely handle that, especially when it solves the space issue under the grow lights. I’ll still plant the ones I started inside, and sooner rather than later so I can make space. If they don’t survive it’s no big deal. There are PLENTY MORE coming!

Well, this has been, hands down, the busiest couple of work weeks I’ve ever had. I’ve barely had the time or energy to look at my plants, let alone play with them. They managed to survive, despite my neglect, and now that things have calmed down (at least temporarily), I had the time this weekend to pot up and start some new seeds. I’m about two weeks behind the schedule I created earlier this year, but at least I won’t be pushing the envelope as much as I was going to. It’s tough to say whether the worst of winter is over here, and it’s probably better to put things out a little later instead of taking the risk with the cold.

I potted up the oldest broccoli, cauliflower, and onion plants, all of which are about 5 weeks old. I moved them from the seedling tray into 3″ peat pots to make some more room for the plethora of tomato seeds I was starting today. I’m going to need to fertilize them….forgot about that! I’ll use a liquid seaweed fertilizer at 1/4 strenth. Maybe tonight.

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All of my pepper seeds have sprouted…including a 3-leaved Jimmy Nardello! I think someone on Garden Web brought up this phenomenon recently, but I haven’t checked in over there for quite a while, so I’m not sure what the verdict is…is this very a common occurrence?

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I started some more eggplant seeds today, after 0% germination of the last round. I know it was because I didn’t cover the cells with plastic to warm the starting mix properly. At least, that’s what I think happened. I got a little haphazard with the plantings in the seedling tray and put them in a precarious spot. This time I’ve got all new seeds on the bottom half of the tray so I could easily cover them all over at once. Hopefully it was user error and not a bad batch of seeds.

Along with the new eggplant seeds, I also started my tomatoes. Black Cherry, Sun Gold Cherry, Pink Grapefruit, Mortgage Lifter, Cherokee Purple, Bloody Butcher, Paul Robeson, and Brandywine Red. I chose the Pink Grapefruit just because I think they look cool. We’ll see how they taste! I added Paul Robeson because he used to live in my hometown. I feel like I’m supposed to grow them. 🙂

Doesnt it look like a pink grapefruit with its yellow skin and pink center?

Doesn't it look like a pink grapefruit with its yellow skin and pink center?

I also got a third light last week. I think I have finally optimized my planting space. I could use a second heat mat, but with some finagling I may be able to fit everything onto the one.

Finally, I didn’t have a chance to report that last week I took most of the mulch off the garlic bed, and to my surprise they were already growing under there!

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Since then, the cold nights have yellowed them a bit, but I have read in numerous places that it’s better to lose the top growth in the early months than to keep them smothered with mulch for too long. I’m trusting the people who know what they’re doing! Ah, isn’t experimenting fun?

I’m going out of town this week, but the plan for next weekend is to put the strings on the boxes to divide them up into square feet, construct the string trellis, and plant lettuce and pea seeds. I’m thinking I’ll put some plastic down on the beds tomorrow before I go so the warm weather this week can heat up the beds before next weekend.

All in all, I feel pretty good about where I am at this stage!

Well, I’m finally getting things together.  I’ve cleared out space for the seed starting area, although I’m waiting for the seed mat I bought to be delivered so I can add some warmth to the area.  Unfortunately the only place I have available is in the unfinished part of my basement, off the garage.  It’s not as cold as the garage, but not as warm as the house either.  Someone gave me a great tip last night to use some insulation to build a little enclosure to hold in heat.

I received all of the seeds I ordered.  I’m trying to map out a game plan for when to start each variety and when I should plant them outside.  It’s a lot of work!  I know after a while it will become second nature, but right now I’m still learning the ropes.

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I started some broccoli seed today.  More to test out the process than anything.  I actually had a hard time finding a warm spot in the house for germination.  I had anticipated using the top of the fridge, but when I started cleaning it off today I realized it’s ice cold up there!  I ended up sticking them on top of the stereo receiver for my TV.

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I’m really looking forward to getting through this first year.  I know it will be a huge learning process and I just want to get going already!!!

I felt like Navin Johnson yesterday when I got my mail.

The first catalog's here!  The first catalog's here!

The first catalog's here! The first catalog's here!

The 2009 Fedco seed catalog came!

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I’ve spent most of the day perusing and selecting.  I’ve never had the printed edition, I’ve only browsed the online catalog for buying my garlic.  I have to say I’m very impressed.  At first I thought I would quickly lose interest because of its layout.  It is a newsprint catalog with ridiculously small print and black and white illustrations that are not of any specific variety.  But what it lacks in glossy color photos is made up for by the wealth of information.  In the first few pages I learned a lot about how they run their business, the standards they’ve set for their suppliers in terms of calling something “organic”, and what the economy has done to the industry.  They’re even upfront about the different types of places they get their seeds, from small local farms all the way up to companies that are known to engage in genetic engineering.  They label each seed listing with this information so you can make an informed choice about who you want to buy from.  They also list organizations you can join, seed saving programs, and sources to read up on genetic modification.   After spending time reading through the catalog it has made me want to make sure I check Fedco first for the varieties I’m looking for, ahead of other seed companies.  It is the type of company I’d like to support as much as possible.