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Archive for the ‘seeds’ Category

 

The sprouts for this year’s garden are coming along.  I had to replant all of them (except the Fourth of July tomatoes) to get decent sprouts to grow.  That’s completely my fault, since I improperly stored my seeds over the winter.  I still haven’t seen any sign of pepper sprouts.  I’m going to replant those seeds one more time, and then I might give up…

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Two Sundays ago, it was snowy here in central/upstate NY.  What better way to deal with that than to plant some seeds?

Vivian supervised.

From what I learned from last year’s garden + the fact that daily life is a bit busier around here because of our little girl, I decided to to scale back the garden this year.  If all goes well, the garden will contain:

  • two California Wonder (red bell) pepper plants
  • two cucumber plants
  • two zucchini plants
  • two Jelly Bean (grape) tomato plants
  • two Fourth of July tomato plants

Since the groundhog was instrumental in decimating my cucumbers and zucchinis last year (but left the peppers and tomatoes alone), I planted some extra tomato seeds so that I have plants to replace any gnawed-upon squash plants.

And this past Sunday, I was delighted to see that the tomato seeds have started sprouting!!  Hurray!

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Along with getting the garden plot ready on Saturday, I planted the sweet corn seeds right into the ground.

I’ve never grown sweet corn before, though I absolutely love eating it!  So I’m really hoping that this “experiment” in our garden works.

I wasn’t exactly sure what the procedure was to plant corn in a home garden (or anywhere, really), so I did a search on “planting sweet corn + garden” and one of the more useful hits was THIS link.  The bits that I got out of the article (for planting on Saturday) were:

  • for small plantings, use the “hill” method of planting
  • space hills 2′-3′ apart, and plant 4-5 seeds per hill
  • seeds in each hill should be planted in a small circle, about 2″ apart
  • when seeds sprout, thin to 2-3 plants per hill
  • for good fertilization, 12-24 plants are necessary

So I did just that.

I made little piles of leftover potting soil to sort of “mark” the corn hills (and give the seeds something a bit more nutrient-rich in which to sprout) and made little circles of 5 corn seeds.

And here’s the garden with just the corn hills planted.

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I have really been enjoying watching my sprouts coming up!  They seem to be really happy at the window on the south side of our house (the same side of the house where we’re hoping to have a veggie garden bed).

Here’s a photo I took this morning…

You can see that the tomato sprouts are all looking healthy, and the flat leaf parsley (the unmarked row in the egg carton, as well as the left-hand yogurt cup) and basil (the right hand yogurt cup) are starting to sprout nicely.  The peppers are just barely starting to sprout, I think– I’m hoping they’ll do okay.  It looks like the curly parsley seeds didn’t really survive (but that’s not too surprising, since they were from a 20-cent seed packet at over a year ago, at least!)

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sprouts!!

I could hardly believe my eyes when I checked on my seed tray yesterday and saw that some of the seeds are sprouting already!  Above are some Fourth of July tomato sprouts, and I spotted sprouts in at least one of each of the other varieties I planted last Friday.  Of course, they’re barely sprouts, but I was pretty excited to see that all of the old seeds are actually coming up (Some of those seeds were from packets I bought in 2008, and the others were from 2009).

I’ve uncovered the seed tray (I’d put it into a clear plastic bag until the seeds germinated, as recommended) and it is now sitting on a TV tray near a sunny window.  Hurray for sprouts!

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On Saturday, I soaked my parsley seeds all day– both the curly parsley I had from 2009 and the flat leaf (Italian) that I bought this year.  Parsley is “notoriously” difficult to start from seed, and the flat leaf packet recommended soaking the seeds overnight before planting.  I looked up online the idea of soaking seeds and discovered that you add the seeds to very hot (boiling?) water and allow the water to cool to room temperature.  According to one forum I saw, seeds that float are “bad”.  So after I soaked my seeds, I tried to skim off the floating seeds before I planted the rest in seed-starting mixture.

 

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On Sunday, I was delighted to notice some green spears poking their way up out of the bed in the front of our house!

I’m excited to find out what these will be.  And later in the afternoon, I looked out the kitchen window to the back yard and saw a whole bunch more!!

I have no idea how I didn’t notice these before, unless it was because of all the snow that was on the ground!  I know that the previous owners of this house told us that the owners before them had a flower garden in that vicinity of the lawn, so these bulbs must be remnants.  I went out on Monday and investigated (and took more photos, of course!)

looks like the critters are getting to these...

I found what look to be crocuses in another spot in the yard:

And more green shoots by the fence at the bottom of the yard…

I absolutely love spring, and I am so very excited to have bulbs coming up!  It’s going to be so much fun to see them bloom (if the squirrels, etc. don’t get to them first…)

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I started some seeds today!

Since there’s still snow on the ground, I spread out some newsprint on the table and worked there.

Here’s what I started with:

new seeds for 2011

New seeds for this year’s garden:

  • Jelly Bean Hybrid tomato
  • California Wonder bell pepper
  • Italian parsley (more on this in a later post)
  • Tendergreen (burpless) cucumber (I’ll start these seeds at the end of March/beginning of April)
  • Sugar Baby watermelon (I’ll start these seeds at the end of March/beginning of April)
  • Mesclun “gourmet greens mixture” (lettuce; I’ll start these seeds in-ground later)
  • Silver Queen sweet corn (will be started in-ground in mid-May)

seeds from previous years

I also had seeds left from previous years’ gardens. Today, I’ll just be talking about

  • Red Lightning Hybrid tomato
  • Yellow Pear tomato
  • Early Girl Hybrid tomato
  • Fourth of July Hybrid tomato

After reading up a little bit on seed starting, I decided to just use an empty cardboard egg carton for starting the seeds. I labeled the rows with popsicle sticks.  Very low-tech 😉  If you look closely at the picture above, you can see that I poked some holes in the sides/bottom of each segment for drainage.

seed starting mix

 

In previous years, I just used potting soil for starting my seeds.  But this year, every time I read about seed starting, the information stated that seed-starting mix should be used.  I think it’s because it is a lighter mixture– therefore, the roots get a better start.  So this year, since I won’t be planting everything in pots (and therefore don’t need potting soil), I “splurged” and bought a bag of real seed-starting mix.

Another thing that was new for me this year was that the Jelly Bean tomato seeds were “pelleted”.  I’ve not come across this before, so I looked it up.

Pelleted seed: Individual seeds enclosed in a clay pellet which breaks down on contact with water. Allows very small seed to be handled and sown more easily.

(definition from GrahamRice.com)

Pretty interesting.  I don’t think it affects the way the seeds germinate at all, though.

 

Summary of what I planted this afternoon:

  • 3 segments (2 seeds each) California Wonder peppers
  • 3 segments (2 seeds each) Jelly Bean tomatoes
  • 3 segments (2 seeds each) Fourth of July tomatoes
  • 3 segments (2 seeds each) Early Girl tomatoes
  • 2 segments (2 seeds each) Yellow Pear tomatoes
  • 1 segment (1 seed — it was all I had left!) Red Lightning tomatoes

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I cannot tell you how excited I am to be getting back to the “roots” (haha, get it??) of this blog.  This spring/summer, we’re going to have a garden again!!  Garden plans have been simmering on the back of my brain ever since we moved in to our house (with a YARD!) and the other day, I got an email from a good friend describing her herb garden.  That brought garden planning to the front of my mind.  Over the weekend, Husband and I sat down and did a little garden pre-planning.  We made a master list of what crops we would grow in our dream garden, and then whittled it down to something a little more reasonable for our first in-ground garden.

 

Okay, so we didn’t reduce our list by much….  😉

We’re going with our old favorites of tomatoes, cucumbers, and bell peppers, as well as loose-leaf lettuce (for me, mostly) and fresh herbs: parsley, basil, and chives.

New for us this year (besides the whole in-ground part of it!) are sweet corn, watermelon, and butternut squash–things that weren’t quite possible in pots on our balcony!.  I haven’t picked out any varieties yet, because I’ll do that when I go to a local garden store.  Hopefully someone there will be able to recommend varieties that are good for my area.

You can see that I also sketched out a little plan of where our garden plots (yes, that is plural!) will be.  After discussion, Husband and I decided that we’ll try to have one plot in the corner of the fence in the back yard, and one plot along the side of the house in the side yard.  (In the sketch, the upward direction is south.)  When we moved in last summer, I tried to keep track of the sunniest parts of our yard, and I think these are the spots.  I hope!

Because we’re in upstate NY, we still have snow (of course!), so here’s what the proposed garden plots look like right now (yes, I actually put on my boots to slog around our yard to take these photos!! :))…  But I am so looking forward to when we can see green again!

I also looked up the last and first frost dates.  I found a handy-dandy chart on almanac.com that has dates for a lot of cities in the U.S.  (The site also has some recommended planting dates based on your area!**).  It looks like I have about a month before I should start planting some of my seeds, and I’ll start the rest at the end of March.

 

Some problems that I *know* we’ll face:

  1. The backyard, while it does have sunny spots, is still pretty shady.  (Husband pointed out, though, that it doesn’t get much worse than a northern exposure on a covered balcony!)
  2. There might be issues with tree roots in the corner plot.  I won’t know for sure until the snow goes away how bad the roots will be.
  3. Squirrels.  Holy moly, we have a lot of squirrels.  And a resident chipmunk (a.k.a. Chippy ;-), right Jaime?) under our deck.  I’m pretty sure there isn’t anything that can be done to prevent them from getting into a garden.  If you have any squirrel-proofing advice, PLEASE please PLEASE share!

 

But here’s to the coming spring and to gardens!  Hurray!

 

**This is the first time I’ve used this site, so I don’t know anything about its validity.  If you have experience with it, I’d love to hear your opinion!

 

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Since I will have an herb garden at the most this summer, I was especially excited when my friend said that she would be planting a garden in her year this year.  I mean, I was excited for her to have the garden no matter what, but she also invited me and another friend to help her get it ready and grow stuff in it!  Last weekend, we gathered in her yard to clear out the bed and enjoy being in the wonderful sunshine.

planning it out

My friends also planted some seeds in some cups, and we decided to use the cups to plan out the spacing of the plants to make sure we had enough room.

planting spinach

Right before I left to head home, I helped my friend direct-sow some spinach seeds.  I was surprised at how big the seeds are!  I was expecting something much tinier– like lettuce seeds.

I’m looking forward to watching this garden grow!!

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Yes, I do realize it’s Friday– but better late than never!

I’m thankful this week that some loose ends for my dissertation work are starting to get tied up.  One last major hurdle and I think I’m set to go to finish my analysis.  And today I officially set my defense date for July 22.  It’s coming up quickly!

So, because I’m going to be in crazy writing-dissertation mode, I will likely not be posting too frequently here (not that I’m so great at it anyway)…

Quick update in the garden:

  • This morning I spotted my first nasturtium sprout!  Yay!  I had kind of started to give up on them.   We’ll see whether any others come up.
  • I have officially given up on my cucumber seeds, and planted a tomato plant in each of the 2 pots that were originally designated for the cucumbers– one more Early Girl, and one more Fourth of July.  While I’m sad that there won’t be any cucumbers from our balcony this summer, I’m excited for all the tomatoes we could be getting!  The other tomato plants are looking happy and getting established.  I really need to get some more tomato cages!
  • Friends of ours had potted herbs as table centerpieces at their party the other day and gave me one of the containers, so I now have lavendar, a type of basil that looks different from mine, dill, thyme, and catnip(?!).  They are all lovely plants, and I’m contemplating dill bread 😉  My from-seed herbs are growing, too, albeit slowly.  Maybe with the extra-warm weather we’re having lately they’ll pick up their pace.
  • The peas are doing nicely, and Husband and I have been enjoying mesclun and Black-Seeded Simpson salads!
  • One of the secretaries in my department brought me some strawberry plants from her (in-ground) garden a few weeks ago, so they are getting established in their pots.
  • Another friend gave me a potted pepper plant that she had over-wintered inside because it never stopped blooming!  It’s still looking healthy, and I think I’m seeing more buds!  Are peppers perennials in any climates?

Finally, I have one Red Lighting and two Early Girl sprouts/seedlings that don’t have homes now that all of my pots are filled.  Does anyone local want them?  I’d love to give them away rather than throw them away.  Leave me a comment if you want them!

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I’ve been looking forward to this day all winter long!  I planted out my tomato and herb sprouts that had been growing in Husband’s office.

We trucked them home on Friday after work, and I could hardly wait to start planting them on Saturday.  Here’s the balcony before I started.  You can see that the lettuces (in the pots along the right hand side of the photo) have been thriving since I planted them back on April 11.  They alternate between black-seeded simpson (light green) and mesclun mix (darker green).  The peas are in the light-colored pot at the far end of the balcony.

before

before

I got out all the rest of my pots and arranged my little seedlings in their cups so that I knew where everything would go:

arranging the sprouts for transplant

arranging the sprouts for transplant

As I started to dig out little holes in the middle of the lettuce, I realized that I almost forgot the eggshells!  I had a whole ice-cream bucket filled with them, so I smooshed them down:

smooshed eggshells

smooshed eggshells

and sprinkled them in the hole I had dug for each tomato seedling.

eggshells in the planting hole

eggshells in the planting hole

I tried to bury the stem of the tomato seedlings as deeply as possible to encourage more root development (especially for stability, since the balcony can get pretty windy).  In two of the lettuce pots, instead of tomato seedlings, I planted some cucumber seeds (from last year’s seed packet… I’ve planted some from this year’s seed packet tonight, as well as some nasturtium seeds in the window basket).  I also transplanted my herb sprouts into bigger containers.

Here’s the “after” picture:

after

after

And some individual shots of all the pots:

"Red Lightning"

"Red Lightning"

"Black-Seeded Simpson" and lettuce seeds planted-- pot 1

"Black-Seeded Simpson" and cucumber seeds planted-- pot 1

mesclun mix and "Yellow Pear"

mesclun mix and "Yellow Pear"

"Black-Seeded Simpson" and "Fourth of July"

"Black-Seeded Simpson" and "Fourth of July"

mesclun and "Red Lightning"

mesclun and "Red Lightning"

"Black-Seeded Simpson" and cucumber seeds planted -- pot 2

"Black-Seeded Simpson" and cucumber seeds planted -- pot 2

mesclun and "Early Girl"

mesclun and "Early Girl"

peas

peas

"Tiny Tim"

"Tiny Tim"

basil

basil

really sad looking chives

really sad looking chives

parsley

parsley

Of course, when I took out the lettuces to make room for the tomatoes, I enjoyed a lovely mixed greens salad! 🙂

destined for dinner

destined for dinner

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