Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Sprouts Abound

The Peas and Spinach I planted last weekend have begun to sprout. We're having below average temps this week and plenty of rain, but it's encouraging to see the sprouts coming up.

What Was I Thinking?

A few warm days, hinting at spring, can make some gardeners lose their minds, and their good judgment.

Last week I started some seeds on the heat mat in the house. I wanted to get a head start on some of the plants that take a longish time to germinate, or things I might have trouble with, so I would have time for a second try.

So I started some Shiso, which I couldn't get to germinate AT ALL last year, and some Celery, which is difficult and takes a long time to wake up. I started some Basil, which I had problems with last year. I think I put it outside too soon and I lost a lot of plants to damping off. I also started some Cilantro and Dill, just to give them a head start.

And I started 12 of the Red Rocoto Peppers that were my obsession last summer. I think they still might be this year too. You can read more here, if you wish, Rocoto. I planted 12 in the hopes that I will have some to share at the 2nd Annual Spring Garden Exchange. I anticipate that it will be a good chance to do some proselytizing.

Anyway, the problem is that somehow, along with these sensible choices, I planted cucumber and pumpkin seeds. 2 kinds of cucumber! egad. As evidence that the heat mat is great way to wake seeds up and get 'em going, the Basil has poked it's tiny heads above the surface of the soil. And the cukes and pumpkin sprouts are ALL up and pressing against the plastic lid of this seed starting contraption, which is matter-of-factly named Germination Station. And it's been less than a week!

I knew I'd have to transplants all of these seeds eventually. The germination station is just a compact place to get lots of seeds started. But now I've got to do something about these over achievers, and soon. I'll transplant them into small pots, but they'll have to stay indoors for a few weeks at least, since it's still too cold outside.

I should have waited. These are fast growing, heat loving plants, and it's just too early. But that's what spring does to those of us with "the affliction".

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Peas Please

Today I put some peas in the ground. Snap peas to eat whole, and shelling peas, well to shell. Peas are great because after a long winter of greens and root vegetables, peas are the first vegetable that reminds me of the succulent treats of summer. They're crunchy and juicy and so much fun to eat as you garden. The plants grow quickly, especially as the weather warms. The vines are vigorous and almost creature like as their tendrils reach out to climb onto anything in their paths. And the flowers are beautiful.

I soaked the pea seeds overnight to give them a little head start, and I coated them with inoculant, which helps the peas get nitrogen from the atmosphere. The inoculant contains a bacteria that aids this process. It comes in a powder and you can coat the moistened peas with it, or add it to the soil in which they will be planted.

You can also pre sprout the peas on a paper towel and once they have a root you can plant them in the ground or in a container. This method helps if your soil is still pretty cold.

Good companion plants for peas include Bush Beans, Pole Beans, Carrots, Corn Cucumber, Radish, Turnips. But keep them away from Onion, Garlic, Leeks. These are not good neighbors for peas.

They will definitely need something to support them as they grow; to keep the pea pods off the ground and so the peas can be harvested at a comfortable height. So building a trellis or teepee will be on my list of chores.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Tomatoes Fresh Frozen On The Vine

Cold weather in Florida hurts tomato Crop

So 70% of the Florida tomato crop was lost in the recent blast of cold weather on the east coast. Do I care? Not really. I wasn't going to eat any of those tomatoes anyway. I try not to eat or buy food that has traveled from one end of the country to the diagonally opposite corner, let alone from a different hemisphere. I still have plenty of dried tomatoes and some in the freezer too, so I should make it until tomaotes are ripe in Oregon.

But if I buy any tomatoes, fresh or canned, it might have an impact on the price I have to pay.

And so I will strive for a bumper tomato harvest this summer, just like I do every year. Some years it works out. Last year it didn't. I planted in the newly exposed soil where we de-paved half of the driveway. And although I loosened the soil and amended a lot, it was poor, and the tomatoes didn't do well.

Since then we have added raised beds in that area and will fill them with rich, luscious soil, so whatever ends up there should fare better. I think I'll go back to the south facing beds on the side of the house for the tomatoes this year, and make lavish offerings to the tomato gods.