Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Catch up!

I'm already having to catch up with my seedlings!  On Sunday I came home from a nice visit to Virginia and took advantage of daylight savings time to plant some seeds.  I planted 5 cells of cucumbers and eight cells of pink climber tomatoes.  I also sowed a handful of mixed lettuce and greens seeds in the bottom half of a gallon milk jug.  I will almost certainly sow some more lettuce seeds in additional cells or direct-sow lettuce in the raised beds once it gets a bit warmer.  These guys will just be microgreens or baby lettuces.  In truth, I planted some lettuce mostly because lettuces are quick germinators and I was hoping for some near-instant gratification.

Those little lettuce seeds sure delivered!  I already have 5-6 seedlings trying to poke up from the dirt.  So first lettuces germinated in just two days.  They make me totally happy, and they give me something to focus on so I can try to be patient for my peppers.  I know I shouldn't expect pepper seedlings yet (minimum 10 days to germination and I'm only on day 7) but I still check for them every day!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Pepper Progress

I have officially begun to start seeds.  According to my seed starting calendar (from Grow Great Grub), my pepper plants needed the earliest start.  They need to be pampered inside for 8-10 weeks before they'll be ready to go outside.  So I picked up a bag of seed starting mix at Lowes today and got down to business.

Based on what I've been reading, peppers can be hard to germinate.  Some folks even recommend soaking in warm water overnight.  I didn't have the patience for that, plus neither my go-to gardening book nor my seed packets recommended it.  Instead, I decided to go with quantity.  I will probably plant two of each pepper variety (Yolo Wonder, Santa Fe Grande, and early Jalapeno) so I planted five cells of each.  I went with two seeds per cell.  If both seeds in a cell germinate, I'll thin them out after they get their first true leaves.

The recommended sowing window for my area is March 2-16, so if I don't get any seedlings in ten days or so, I'll just try again.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

The seeds of an idea...

Welcome to my garden journal.  I have no illusions of reaching Thoreau-like levels of introspection.  I simply plan to record my experiences in bringing up my small kitchen garden.

Last week I placed a seed order with Sustainable Seed Co.  I ordered eight seed packets, which I actually believe was quite restrained.  The seeds that got away were already haunting me.  I shouldn't have worried.  I was lucky enough to receive several additional seed packets from my mom for my birthday and Sustainable Seed Co. threw in a bonus seed packet with my order, so I am well and fully stocked.  Here's what should be growing in my garden in a few short months:

Dwarf blue kale-- a type of curly kale that forms 6-8" heads.  I may put this in containers as well as the garden beds.
Sassy salad mix-- a blend of lettuces, chard, arugula, spinach and mustard greens.
Freckles lettuce-- a type of romaine with green leaves baring purple freckles.  I wish I could say that I picked this variety because it is heat tolerant and bolt-resistant (which is supposedly is), but the adorable freckles were what swayed me.
Oregon sugar pod II-- a variety of snow pea.  Apparently its 24" vines are shorter than the average vine pea,  but still require some staking.
Tom Thumb pea-- a miniature shelling pea that's well-suited to containers and small gardens.
Pink climber tomato-- my bonus seed packet.  I don't know much about them yet.
Straight eight cucumber-- a classic-looking white spined cucumber.
Early prolific straightneck squash-- Squash is delicious, and I figure that anything with "prolific" in the name is good for a first-timer like myself.
Yolo wonder pepper-- I had to look past the too-trendy name of this pepper.  Based on the description in the catalog, it sounds like a classic bell pepper that matures from green to red.
Early jalapeno-- I think this speaks for itself.
Santa Fe grande pepper-- a hot pepper that changes from yellow to red as it matures.  Similar in heat or a bit hotter than jalapenos.
Sabor-- a common variety of cilantro.  According to my seed packet, cilantro is also known as "Chinese parsley."  Who knew?
Genovese basil-- a classic.  I've grown this in containers before.
Purple basil-- ditto the above.
Dolce vita basil blend-- includes cinnamon, genovese, tall lemon, lime, mammoth and purple petra basils.  Why yes; I do like basil.  Why do you ask?

Now, a reasonable person would look at that list and try to pare it down to a manageable size for a new gardener.  I am clearly not a reasonable person.  Thus, I plan to add to this list with a few seedlings purchased from the farmer's market (I have my eye on Kentucky colonel mint) and cuttings from others' gardens (I'm looking at you, rosemary).  At least I'll have more to write about than two and a half acres of beans.