Saturday, February 19, 2011

Seed starting!

I'm very excited to say that we started our first batch of seeds! In spring of 2010, seeds were started six weeks before transplant, but I thought it might mean tomatoes sooner if started earlier this year. I will probably do succession seedlings as a backup in case these don't pan out, but in the meantime gardening season 2011 has begun.  Tomatoes, tomatillos, and romanesco have all sprouted.  Waiting on the wild yellow strawberries, but not holding my breath. I may try again with those soon. Peppers were started today. Here are some romanesco the day they came out.
romanesco day 1
This year I used coconut fiber pellets for initial seed starting. The kids love expanding them, and they are easy to deal with before transplanting to larger containers. It might mean more work in the long run, but the seedlings seem to love to sprout in the germination station, and you can't beat the entertainment level for the kids. The heat mat helps, I'm sure, as does the south facing window.
romanesco day 5
We belong to a local CSA and received a good number of cranberry beans in last year's share, so I saved the last batch to see if I could grow some as well. I wasn't sure how well they would do, so I tested a batch in a wet towel and they all sprouted.
cranberry bean sprouts
This means I will be direct sowing some cranberry beans in a few months, once I find a spot for them. The tomatoes are also looking happy so far.
tomato seedlings
That's about it for now. I am working on the garden layout plans still but will hopefully be able to share those soon.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Dreaming of greener pastures...

It's February. It's the month of seemingly endless suffering. We get ice and snow storms typically usually accompanied by the coldest temperatures of the year with downright brutal winds. I like green things but let's face it, my "garden" looks like this :

After being cooped up in the house for weeks on end, it is easy to get lost in the melancholy but it's time to get the proverbial ball rolling and start preparing for the bounty of spring and summer. It's fun to daydream and remember when it all looked alot more like this :

Last year was an amazing growing season. We certainly learned a host of lessons on what to plant, when to plant and more importantly I think, HOW MUCH to plant. Needless, to say one does not need 47 lettuce plants. Oh, and when you get "double yield" cucumber seeds, they mean it. All great topics to delve into for future posts.

But all in all, the table was continuously graced with home grown colors that continue to make me smile.

So in the midst of last weeks arrival of a fresh foot and a half of snow, I brought out my dirt and my pots and got started on my brassica. They want to be outside as established plants before the last frost so I thumb my nose at you old man winter and I shall bring forth green things in the house where I can nurture them and smell the wonders of earth, even when I can't see it outside. Here, in my own way, with my romanesco, cauliflower and cabbages I look forward to greener days in the not so distant future.

So as the canned goods from last harvest dwindle down and the groundhog tells us we can expect a light transition this year, let's daydream! What are everyone's plans for earthly greatness this year?

Sunday, February 6, 2011


Currently I'm working on a garden layout based on sun/shade and companion planting, while taking into consideration the fact that two years ago we got the dreaded tomato blight so I'm keeping tomatoes out of the box they were in that year.  I never paid attention to companion planting before last year, but from now on I will. Last year's garden did very well (except for my poor cucurbits, which were afflicted with everything from powdery mildew to cucumber beetles to squash vine borers) and I'd like to think companion planting had at least some influence on the garden's success. Of course, the weather was unusually warm and dry last summer, so most gardens did do quite well as long as there was enough water to go around.

This year's seeds came from Seed Savers Exchange, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, and Peaceful Valley Farm Supply. I may order more but I already have more than I could possibly use! Seed starting will begin over the next month or so for romanesco, tomatoes, tomatillos, and possibly herbs.

From which supplier do you like to order seeds? Are there any particular varieties you plant year after year, or do you like to try something new each season?  I have a modest vegetable garden but am always looking for ways to improve and maximize it.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

i love germ(ination)!

Seeds have been ordered and are arriving!  Even though we are deep in snow, I know it is almost germination time.

Thinking back to last year's garden makes me smile:
 Thinking forward to this year's garden does the same. Are you ready for growing season 2011?