Archive for the ‘seed’ Category

Garrrrrlic! and autumn ramblings Friday, September 24th, 2010

Sorry folks – too much work and none of it in the garden as of late. But, BUT, The Hub got his first garlic bulbs in – I told him we still had some ordered bulbs on the way but he was determined to plant some by the light of the Harvest Moon. We saved one good bulb of cloves from this last meager harvest so that’s what he stuck in the garden. This is possibly based on some principles from the idea of biodynamic gardening. But that’s another post at another time.

The garlic we ordered came in today – both varieties are hardneck. My mother gave me, basically, one tip: follow the directions. This calls for high nitrogen fertilizer (think lawn feed) and bonemeal (phosphorus) to be added at planting time. A good amount of hummus and fluffy, compost rich soil doesn’t hurt. So I’ll need to pick some of that up tomorrow in hopes I, or The Hub, can finish this last bit of fall planting. The Hub also plans on taking down the garden this weekend but I’m skeptical, we’ll see. It’s time to get the last hopeful tomatoes off the vines and cook up or store what pumpkins are left and gather those last few seeds to seed the dreams of next spring

In preparation Thursday, September 16th, 2010

The dawn before fall is nearly as good as spring when it comes to gardening, for me at least. The first plants are drying in their beds. The grass has all but stopped growing. The temperature inside need only be regulated by the opening and closing of windows. We are passed the heavy maintenance stage of weeding and watering and wrangling. All the pumpkin vines have shriveled leaving our back steps a staggering of orange orbs with only a couple looking as though they are waiting for Cinderella’s fairy godmother out in the garden bed.

Soya Envy soybeans, dried on plant, collected for next year's crop

Next steps:

  • Continue gathering seeds – so far I have edamame, marigold, pepper, tomato and butternut squash
  • Covering the tomato plants for a few more nights before picking all and leaving them to ripen on newspaper in front of a sunny window
  • Pick the last peppers
  • Make a list of what did well and didn’t for next year
  • Canning tomatoes
  • Cooking and freezing the pumpkin for pies and baby food
  • Help my parents pick apples and pears, with bonus bagfuls to take home
  • Plant fall bulbs – my pick this year was crocus
  • Plant garlic – just waiting for the order to arrive
Gardening workshop, Aberdeen SD Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

The Prairie Partners’ Gardening with the Masters fall workshop will be from 2 to 4 p.m. Sept. 25 at Dacotah Prairie Museum, 21 S. Main St.
Within the day will be four individual workshops: starting seeds, growing garlic, hardy roses and raised bed/square foot gardening.
Cost: $5 and payable at the door. Treats and refreshments will be served.

3 2 1 Acclimate! Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

My babied seedlings of tomatoes and peppers have had a rough go of making it to the garden. For weeks I did really well. Watering when slightly dry, timing their artificial grow lights, repotting when necessary. Then I try to set them outside to acclimate a little and boom! I let them dry out too much, then they get sunburned, the children water them too forcefully and the dog topples all of them over. Good grief! So now I’m attempting some resuscitation to see who will make it out of my 20-some little plants. That would’ve been too many for our garden plot but now I’m hoping I have a 1/2 dozen of pepper and tomato each to put out some time this week.

Seedlings you do at home need time to toughen up to the outdoor conditions: wind, sun, night and day temps, all are much more severe than the conditions in your home, garage and in some instances the greenhouse where you purchased them.

What I should have done to acclimate them:

  • Mimic the sun time they will have with my artificial lights a couple weeks out
  • Start setting them out in a shady spot during the day when the temp is 65 and above
  • Move them to a sunnier location where they will get just a couple hours of sun
  • Slowly increase their time in the sun an hour or two each day until they are staying in the sun for a full 8 hours
  • Plant them in the garden when the nights are only getting down to the high 50s or 60s (right now!)

Oh well, this is the most success I’ve had starting my own seedlings anyway so I’ll chalk this up to another lesson learned the hard way.

Good Friday marks potato planting Friday, April 2nd, 2010

Kennebecs harvested in 2008

Good Friday was always the day to plant potatoes – I picked this up from my father who had it passed down to him. It’s nice to get something in the actual ground so early – gives the gardening itch a good scratch. I didn’t exactly get mine planted yet but I got them picked up.

You can get seed potatoes at many places: grocery stores, hardware stores, nurseries, etc. I finally got to Runnings (local ag/hardware store) and picked up some seed potatoes. I chose Norland Red and Yukon Gold. Also available were Kennebec (white) and Pontiac (red). On sale for $o.35/lb. I picked up about 3-4 of each and made sure there were a few good eyes on each one. In past years I’ve used a bag of fingerling potatoes from the grocer that we hadn’t eaten up before the eyes started to sprout and they did well too – potatoes are not the pickiest crop. There are a few things to take note on though:

  • Avoid any seed potatoes that seem soft or moldy.
  • Potatoes are in the same family as tomatoes so can have similar ailments or transfer ailments/pests to each other.
  • Rotate where you plant potatoes every few years and when rotating, also avoid places tomatoes have been planted.
  • Cut the potatoes leaving a couple eyes on each and let the cutting dry for a day or two before planting.
  • Plant cutting level with the ground and mound about 3″ of dirt around them.
  • Once plants emerge you can continue mounding up more dirt just under the top set of leaves.
  • Potatoes will send out roots to make more tubers all the way up their stems – that’s why you can keep mounding the dirt, making a higher and higher hill which also makes digging them up later in the season much easier.
  • Potatoes can be harvested from mid-summer (for fingerling potatoes) up until the tops wither in fall (for larger potatoes).
Swapped Friday, March 19th, 2010

Today the kids and myself went to a lovely mama and fellow gardener’s home to do a seed swap. She has 3 kids so it worked out to be a well-needed playdate for us as well. Nothing like killing two birds.

It’s always fun to see what another person has decided to pick up and try or compare notes on what has and hasn’t worked well for them. I encouraged her towards trying some okra, she provided me with some sweet french melon, beets and a lettuce mix that I hadn’t picked up. We also shared our gloomy trials at the system of 3-sisters planting (corn, bean, squash). She expressed a fascination with permaculture — something I’ve never delved into but my interest is piqued, so that’s sure to be my first internet search after posting this.

Any gardener I know has collected a few seeds over the years so it’s a great idea to get a hold of fellow gardeners and swap some ones you’ve had success with or get ideas from another gardener’s experience.

It’s ALIVE! Friday, March 19th, 2010

My sweet peppers that were planted March 6, finally showed signs of germination exactly 2 weeks later. It took a while, but now I have a little hope. There are about 3 mini red bell pepper sprouts and a couple Odessa Market ones. I’ve watered them every day, just a little to keep the top 1/4 inch of soil damp enough to allow for germination. As these grow I will adjust to heavier waterings so the tender roots don’t dry out. I did space out my TP roll pots to allow for more air circulation as they had been nearly touching and stayed wet enough to produce nice fuzzy coats on the outside. After separating them the fuzz is starting to shed some. As these seedlings grow, I will adjust the light levels to stay approximately 2″ above the top leaves. Luckily I have two side-by-side growing lights on string that can be adjusted as need. My timing of 12 hrs. a day under lights seems to be working well enough.

Now I’ll have to wait and see about the hot peppers that were planted 8 days ago. I’ll hold my breath until it’s been two weeks before I try something different. The next veggies to plant I believe will be tomatoes.

** Pardon for the crappy photography, my work camera doesn’t come with macro, I’ll have to get my in-house photographer (The Hub) to help me out with some better photos.

Pick a peck of peppers Sunday, March 14th, 2010

My last post seemed utterly disjointed so I’ve decided to do a bit of a rewrite.

All peppers were planted inside 8-10 weeks before May 15 (our average last frost date). They get approximately 12 hrs. a day under grow lights. They were planted with little to no soil coverage as per the instructions on the packet.  I water them mostly from our water cooler when the top of the soil is nearly dry. Plants seem to do better with rain water, which I should start collecting, but I’m hoping the next best thing instead of tap is purified water.  I labeled each packet with the date they arrived from Bakers Creek and also with the date of the initial planting so I have a reference to look back on.

The peppers that were planted were:

  • Red Mini sweet bell peppers; planted 3-06-2010
  • Odessa Market sweet peppers (Odessa is a town by the black sea in Ukraine – apparently an area my distant relatives came from); planted 3-06-2010
  • Craig’s Grande Jalapeno; planted 3-11-2010
  • Chinese five color – “screaming hot little peppers in a rainbow of colors, can also be grown inside in containers; planted 3-11-2010
  • Lemon Yellow Habanero; planted 3-11-2010
In preparation, 3Rs Friday, February 12th, 2010

Reduce Reuse Recycle,

I’m in full-on prep mode for the coming season.

  • I’ve started a compost jug (this may be a bit early as my compost pile is under 5′ of snow). The plastic lock-tight coffee canisters work great for this, though trying to brew the morning joe, I inevitably open the wrong one – well, that’s one way to wake yourself.
  • I’ve been collecting my clear plastic juice, water and sports drink bottles. I cut almost all the way around the base , leaving an inch to keep it still attached – this flap will be the anchor I can use by placing a rock on it or covering it with dirt. Much better than trying to pile dirt around the side – especially with our SD winds. These will act as seedling protectors when I first put the little plants out in the garden. They will help with wind, cool nights and heavy rains. If you do clip off the bases, use them for kids’ paint trays or beer trays for baiting slugs later.
  • Old plastic bottles can also be cut diagonally from the base into “scoops” to be left in fertilizer, amendment or potting soil bags.
  • I’ve also taken to collecting TP roll tubes and paper towel tubes. I saw a hint in a magazine where 2-3″ cut-up tubes were used for plant pots. Set on a tray – filled with dirt, and seed – once ready for transplant outside one needs only to slide the dirt a little down the tube and plant the whole thing, leaving an inch of the tube above ground. This tube provides a little support as well as protection from cutworms that like to wrap themselves around the base of new plants, clipping ‘em at the base. The paper tubes end up composting.
  • I’ve also made newspaper pots using an almost origami technique – those ended up turning to mush by transplant time so I haven’t tried them again.
  • Old newspapers can also be used as mulch. I’ve gone back and forth about oil vs. soy-based inks – though the latter is obviously optimum, the little research I’ve done is that oil-based inks, at such a small increments such as those used in a daily newspaper, pose no contamination risks. You can also find naked newsprint end-rolls that are free of all inks too. I’ve found newsprint difficult to work with on an average SD day – unless you wet them immediately and weigh them down with some dirt, they will end up in a not-too-pleased neighbor’s yard.
  • If you have any old mini-blinds they work great as labels. Just snip them into 5-6″ pieces and use a permanent marker to label. Popcicle sticks work too but tend to bleed their labels. They do work as simple markers for seeds layed out in a bed though. Great for this girl who forgets just where she tried to sow some poppy and hollyhock seeds in her perennial bed.
  • I went through my seeds and organized them by planting times: anywhere from 10 wks. inside to “outside after danger of frost has passed.” I used an old floppy disc holder to store them in. Other options would be recipe containers or tackle boxes.
  • My seeds came in from Baker Creek and I found some from last year. I wrote in a notebook which ones need to get planted first and I’m working on a planting calendar to post here some time soon. So far, in my garden, I’ll be planting by seed: pumpkins, winter squash (last year’s leftovers), peppers (hot and sweet), watermelon, tomatoes, okra (had good luck with past years), beans, peas, edamame (only tried once – failure – will give it another shot), slo-bolt cilantro and lavender. Some will be started indoors, some outdoors and some, both ways to see what way has better luck.
Wishing season Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

My mom asked me the other day if I’d received any garden catalogs yet? “Um, one – Baker Creek.” She wanders away just to come back and plop down what looked like a dozen seed, perennial, vegetable, and supply catalogs.

Yes, folks, it’s that time of year again. The anger over tomato blights and squash maggots has softened like labor pains for a mother looking upon another birth (like me come April). The hope is here again. South Dakota is a nice place to garden for that. Everything is covered with a blanket of snow – some survivors will mark the building blocks of what is to come and among them a blank slate to fill anew. Without our killing winters I couldn’t imagine anything turning the switch on the jungle I inevitably find myself in come August. By then I’m just willing the growing season to end.

So, with my impending 2-month leave April and May I’m going to give a shot to starting some seeds. I’m had very minimal success in the past. Lighting has always been my problem. The seeds sprout, grow, become lanky and flop over – growing in much too long and weak to rebound the transplanting to come.

In steps my first wish – this is why I love my March birthday, just in time for garden season – a grow light with adjustable height. You see I have a great south window, but it’s never enough, nor can one regulate the S.D. sun. Also, seeds just give us a sate to our early gardening thirst, they also give us a jump so we can grow some things our growing season just can’t accommodate without a head start.

The hub and I have started a seed list just from Baker Creek:

These are just a few ‘wishes’ – haven’t filled out the order yet – guess it’s also the time to figure out the garden budget before we get too ahead of ourselves.