Monthly Archives: March 2014

Starting my Seeds

 

Sorting out seeds

Sorting out seeds

Unpredictable temperatures did not deter me from sorting out my seeds and getting started the first week of March. I know, that was probably too soon, but for you readers, now will not be a bad time to start. I intend to put this crop out under cover in the middle of April.  Last frost dates for our area are between the 21st and the 31st of April. Besides, not being able to get out and work in the garden was driving me nuts!

seed starting1

Here they were all tucked in and labeled.

So, I am off and running.  Now, so I remember next year, I only planted my long season vegetables, to me, these are tomatoes, peppers, leeks and eggplant.  If I plant these as direct sow in the ground, they will not have fruit until very late if at all in our climate.  I learned that last year, when at first frost, green peppers , eggplant and tomatoes were not ready to harvest.  It also helps to check the amount of days from germination to maturity provided as all varieties and cultivars are different.

Three weeks later.

Three weeks later.

They are doing quite nicely under the fluorescent light fixture in my basement, I rigged a shelf, -plywood covered with aluminum foil-. I then hung it right from the fixture with twine that I can adjust as they grow.  Pretty rustic but works!

Of course it would be simpler to buy your seedling from a reputable green house.  I grow mostly heirloom vegetables as I do not like my seeds altered.  I wrote about the difference between heirlooms, hybrids and GMO seeds in my post on Shopping for Seeds and I was amazed by what technology and the seed companies are doing to manipulate our seed supply.  Another reason to consider heirloom varieties is that we are loosing so many old classics and our field of options keeps getting smaller as years go by.  This is an important way to preserve the diversity of our food choices. Also, with heirlooms you can harvest the seed and preserve it from year to year which is the reason we have them today.  Some varieties can be traced to ancient times! I intend to keep seeds from my favorites and make sure they survive for years to come.
“Keep on sowing your seed, for you never know which will grow — perhaps it all will.”
Albert Einstein

 

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Planning for Spring

First Day of Spring… Really?

First Day of Spring… Really?

 

And planning  is all we can do at this point considering what is going on out side! I was expecting a balmy day. Huge contrast to the last two years when I wrote about out great weather in early march.

As a continuation of my last post: Anticipating Spring, I realized there are more garden chores to add to the list.  After spending just one day doing much needed pruning on my shrub borders, I noted that the extreme freeze-thaw cycle we experienced caused many plants to heave out of the ground.  It is advisable to tend to them as soon as you can. Tamp them back in and add a bit of good garden soil around the roots to anchor and strengthen their hold. It was also a good opportunity to fix some of the protective netting that shelter some plants or areas from deer browsing and retying the stakes of young trees that had come loose.

Lets not forget our birds! Best time to clean and repair bird houses is now. I go over the inside of the box as well with a bar of soap.  A light coating prevents wasps from attaching their hives in the inside of the bird house. As long as there is a coating of snow in the ground I continue to feed the birds stopping when the ground is clear to encourage them to forage.  They do tend to get “hooked” on the feeders! If you are interested on learning more about birds, go to my favorite site at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, were the experts really know their stuff!

It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.  ~Charles Dickens,Great Expectations

Related Reading:

Feeding Birds

Nest Boxes

Anticipating Spring

I don’t know about you, but every March I am filled with this sense of impatience, when will the warm weather break through the bleak winter and will this really be the last snow fall of the season?  Getting a brief break does not help, the last couple of days for example, balmy, sunny and just beautiful. I was able to go for a walk in the garden and survey the damage. Today, back to single digits and snow back on the ground.  Tremendous disappointment! The real test will be to see how many perennials will come back after sustained single digit temperatures and so many freeze and thaw cycles.  So I grabbed a pad and paper and started to make a list of priorities:

My spring chores 

  1. Start vegetable seeds.  Since I grow Heirloom varieties I start long season vegetables indoors:  tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and leeks.
  2. Prune all broken or damaged branches of small trees and shrubs.
  3. Cut back any perennials and grasses left though the winter.
  4. Clean all leaves and other debris from perennial beds.
  5. Apply an organic seed germination inhibitor, such as corn gluten meal,  under my Rose of Sharon, and any other prolific seeders.
  6. Prune Privet hedge and any other small shrubs that bloom on new wood later in the season. Delay pruning early bloomers which bloom on old wood, until after they bloom.
  7.  Direct seed some cold tolerant vegetable varieties under cover in the vegetable beds. Usually this will be my leaf crops like Kale, Spinach and all salad greens.

I suppose I will tackle the lawn a bit later but when weather permits, it is time to start crossing off as many of these chores as possible.   Happy gardening!

“Spring is the time of plans and projects.”
― Leo TolstoyAnna Karenina