Saturday, April 13, 2013

Seedlings are Ready, Weather is Not!

Three weeks ago I started my first batch of seeds of all the things that don't mind the cold and who can use a little head start. I am excited to grow a few new varieties from Seed Savers Exchange this year, and a few things I found that Thomas Jefferson grew at Monticello (I read the new book out called A Rich Spot of Earth by Peter Hatch and was inspired!) Some highlights will be the Mammoth Red Rock cabbage and Yugoslavian Red Butterhead from Seed Savers. I have Tennis Ball lettuce that was grown at Monticello and some Win-Win Choi that is already gargantuan! I have a nice variety of colors and textures for the rows near the sitting area. Now if the weather would just cooperate!

Though the frost free date is May 4th at my house,
I usually get things in a bit earlier if I feel confident that it will stay warm. This year seems different though, as we got snow last night -even as I had been moving compost during the day. Unfortunately the seedlings are ready to go in now and have over-grown their cells. I think they will all have to stay put for a bit longer though as we are going away next week and I would want to watch them if they went in the ground.

If you want to start seeds yourself it is very easy. If you are new to this, I would suggest buying the seed starting kit and soil from Johnny's Selected Seeds. Not very expensive at $20.95, the Johnny's Light Pro-Am kit gives you 5 trays of the best sizes, and 5 leak proof trays and 1 dome. This will be enough for a small household garden, as some things you will want to start in reused 6 packs from annuals you bought last year, or 4"pots (also reused from previous purchases.) Then get a bag of their 512 mix, and you will be off to a great start! Though I have started things in a sunny window, using a work light or 2 from a home improvement center is so much better. Mine are suspended from the basement ceiling on chains about 3 inches about the plants. This assures short and stocky hardy plant growth, that won't flop over when it gets outside. Again, these lights and bulbs with the chain can be bought for around $60.  For when to start seeds in your area, consult this calculator for all the dates for your area  put together by Margaret Roach. Happy seeding!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

April Chores: That was satisfying!

 It can barely can be considered Spring, but we do what we've been waiting for: cutting back and removing leaves to get ready for the compost. This medieval herb garden has mostly perennial herbs and flowers but needs at least 2 inches of compost every year. Things like calendula and agastache and datura reseed naturally while I add kale, fennel and a few annual rudebeckia and other vegetables. Thyme, lemonbalm, lovage, cimicifuga racemosa, oregano, lanium, chives, egyptian onions, baptisia, dill all take part every year.              

The wind was wicked today, and defeated all my doings but with limited time and family plans you have to do what you can when you can. I still love the structure of the boxwoods we put in three years ago and hope to add more by propagating cuttings this year.
Got to go, the compost is being delivered! Larry from Estabrooks is on his way...that means ten minutes!