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Posts Tagged ‘planting seeds’

Peas

Pea Plants ~ about a month old

Are We There Yet?

I know.  I said planting day wouldn’t be until at least the weekend after Mother’s Day.  I said that.  I did.  However.  This unusually warm spring has got me thinking that it might be OK to bump planting day up a bit.  This weekend looks like it might be a little on the cool side, but next week looks exactly right for planting.  If you aren’t ready, no worries!  You will still be on schedule if you wait a couple of weeks.  However, if you are itching to get your hands dirty (like I am), I don’t want you waiting on me to do it.

There are still a few plants that should probably wait.  Summer squash hates to be cold, and besides, we planted all of those cool-season greens in our squash bed, so let’s hold off on those.  Cucumbers and corn are other plants that like really warm weather—let’s wait to put those guys into the ground until later in the month.  Check the back of your seed packets—if they indicate that you should wait until 1 to 2 weeks after the average last frost, wait a week or two before planting them.  I know, we haven’t had a frost for a couple of weeks, so technically it probably already is 1 to 2 weeks after the last frost.  However, May nights can (and are supposed to) still get down into the low 40s, and some plants just don’t like the cold, even if there isn’t a freeze. (more…)

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We are about six weeks away from our last frost!  My guess is that with as warm as this year has been, we aren’t actually going to have too many more frosts, but this is Colorado.  You never can tell.  We are proceeding under the assumption that our last frost will be around or just after Mother’s Day, which is Sunday, May 13.  If you can, clear your calendar the weekend of May 19/20–that will be our biggest planting weekend!

Forsythia

Everywhere you go right now, there are beacons of spring: forsythias.  Forsythias are the shrubs in full screaming-bright-yellow bloom right now.  The rest of the summer they will be green, and fairly inconspicuous, but this time of year they are all calling, “Boo-YA!  Spring is here!!”  Forsythias bloom when the ground temperature reaches about 55 degrees–that’s just about the temperature the ground needs to be to plant a bunch of cool season vegetables.

This weekend, we will be planting seeds both inside and out.  Although we might still have a couple of frosts to come, the forsythia tells us that soil temperatures are high enough to get seeds germinating.   So let’s get ’em in the ground!

Here are the seeds we’re planting this weekend:

Indoors:
Cauliflower
Lettuce
Radicchio
Watercress
(please be sure to see Lesson #4 below, if you haven’t already)

Outdoors:
Bok Choy (this is a new one for me this year–will let you know how it goes!)
Broccoli & Broccoli Raab
Greens – Mustard & Collard
Kohlrabi (weird looking, but so delish!)
Peas **before planting peas, soak the seeds in water overnight**
Radishes
Spinach
(please be sure to see Lesson #5 below, if you haven’t already)

Additional Resources:

Lesson #4:  Planting the Seed

Lesson #5:  Down & Dirty ~ Direct Sowing Seeds

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SeedlingsUnlike planting seeds indoors, planting seeds outdoors is super easy, and it’s much cheaper than buying seedlings.  Peas, beans, radishes, carrots, corn, parsnips, turnips, spinach, squash, lettuce, other greens, and cucumbers are all great candidates for direct seed sowing.  But it’s barely April, you say, why are we addressing direct seeding now?  Don’t we have to wait until all danger of frost is past?  (Because you know we will be getting one of those nasty spring snow storms this month.)  (In fact, it’s snowing as I publish this post.)  Lots of these guys will grow from seeds planted directly into the ground even if you think it’s way too cold out to plant anything.  If you can dig into the soil, usually there is a seed that wants to grow there.

Supplies list:

  • Seeds—the backs of your seed packets will tell you which plants can be sown directly into the garden, vs. those that need to be started indoors.  (By the way—lookie what was in my Inbox this week—buy 2 get 1 free seeds at Echter’s!)
  • Plant tags—you can find little plastic tags any place that sells seeds, or get creative!  Anything that you can write on that won’t disintegrate when wet can mark plants!  Small flat rocks?  Sure.  Paint stirrers?  Yup.  Get creative.  I found a great post on making plant tags from a material which everyone has too much of lying around the house (don’t we?): DIY Plant Markers.
  • A permanent black marker to write on your plant tags.  I have used blue and purple Sharpies in the past—not recommended.  In time, they fade in the sun.  Even better, you can buy UV resistant permanent markers at most nurseries (they are right next to the plant tags).
  • A ruler or tape measure.
  • A hose long enough to reach your vegetable beds.  Even if you have irrigation installed, you will probably want to get out there and douse your little babies yourself in the beginning.
  • A nozzle for your hose with a shower setting or a garden wand.
Nozzle

Notice this nozzle has several different spray patterns. Use the one called Shower for watering your seedlings in the garden.

Water Wand

A water or garden wand is longer to make it easy to reach into gardens or to water hanging baskets. These either come set to send out a shower of water, or the are available with different patterns.

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If you have never bought vegetable seeds before, it can be overwhelming.  You have decided what you want to plant, and you head to the nursery with list in hand, but when you get there, you are confronted by gigantic racks with hundreds of seed packets.  These are usually in alphabetical order, which makes it pretty easy to find the veggie you want, but when you get to the T’s, you discover they have 50 varieties of tomatoes, packaged by 8 different seed companies…  It’s a lot.

I have recommended Botanical Interests for new gardeners because the seed packages contain all of the information you need to get your seeds started.  However, if you are going to the nursery as a rookie gardener, these packages can seem like they are written in a foreign language (oh, wait, that actually is Latin on there!)

Here are some quick little diagrams to help you decipher the mystery…

Seed Packet Front

Front of the Seed Packet (Click for a larger image)

Seed Packet Back

Back of the Seed Packet (Click for a larger image)

I used a tomato seed packet for this particular example, since tomatoes are so popular for home gardening (not to mention delicious!)  Different vegetables will have different info, for example, “indeterminate” applies to tomatoes that produce fruit for a long period of time, but that doesn’t apply to all veggies.  The important things to note for planting all seeds, though, are on the bottom half of the back:

  • How deep to plant seeds.
  • How far apart to plant them.  This is actually under the “Thinning” section on these packets, NOT the “Seed Spacing” section.  I suggest planting your seeds at this distance from the get-go, then there is no thinning later!
  • When and where–how long before the average last frost, and do you start these seeds indoors or out?  (This section will also include any odd germination quirks–if a seed likes to be cold to germinate, or if you should soak it in water for a period before planting.)

Important Note!  When you get home, don’t just rip into these packages–make sure you open them carefully, because the inside is also filled with useful info, a drawing of the sprout (in case you forget to mark your seedlings), harvesting details, further cooking tips, and sometimes even some trivia about the veg.

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This weekend is all about starting veggies from seed indoors.  If you haven’t read my post Lesson #4: Planting the Seed, you’ll want to start there–it’ll give you a shopping list of everything you need to get started.

These are the seeds to plant this weekend:
Eggplant
Kale
Onions
Peppers

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Seed Display

I love seeds.  Seeds are the first indication that the gardening season is indeed returning, even if it’s currently 15 degrees and there is still snow on the ground.  Seeds say, “Yes, you will be eating fresh tomatoes off the vine in just a few short months!”  Seeds conjure memories of reading books in the Sky Chairs on the back porch.  Seeds are the promise of a delicious summer.

Hubby will tell you that, yes, I do in fact have a seed addiction.  They call to me, drawing me into their seemingly innocent display stands, and I am absolutely compelled to bring the poor little babies home with me.  It’s worse than passing by the cheese counter at Tony’s or the clearance rack at DSW.  Really.

I usually end up planting WAY more seeds that we can actually use—or that we have room for in our itty bitty house.  The kitchen becomes a mini-greenhouse, with trays of seeds on every surface near a window.  (It really is a problem.)  Luckily, I have lots of friends who don’t grow plants from seed, but are more than happy to take extra seedlings off my hands.  I can only hope they give my babies good homes.

Of course, you can just as easily (ok, MORE easily) grow a garden from plants that you buy at the nursery or the big box store (or mooch from me).  If you want to go that route, log off right now, and save yourself from reading about effort involved!  This is going to be a super-long post (most likely the longest one I will EVER write), and I will definitely not be offended if you aren’t committed to the seed idea.  Go pour yourself a glass of wine and put your butt on the couch.  But if you aren’t scared…

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This is the planning stage.  I usually start this part around January 24, right about the time we are getting that fourth snow storm since the holidays, I just finally put away that last Christmas decoration I kept not seeing, and I am completely over wearing boots and sweaters (and I love my boots and sweaters).

I might be jumping the gun just a bit, but you do want to have a plan before you get out there and start digging.

The two most important things to do before planning what to plant:

  • First, ask yourself:  What do I love to eat?  If you really don’t like the texture of eggplant, don’t plant it.  Do you eat a salad every night with dinner?  Then lettuce is a must!  Make a list, and prioritize.
  • Second, if you haven’t already, go measure that garden area.  Plants need room to grow–some more than others.  You can get over 500 carrots in the same space that one tomato plant needs.  If you have a very small space to work with, think about planting several vegetables that grow on small plants, rather than just a few larger plants.

No Rows!Traditional vegetable gardening has always been done in rows, where you dig a trench in your soil, throw a bunch of seeds in the trench, and cover it up.  Then in two weeks, when the seedlings start coming up, you have a billion little plants that are all smashed together.  Since veggie plants can’t grow that close together, you have to get down there on your hands and knees and pull all those extra little plants out.  Doesn’t that sound wasteful (not to mention kinda painful)?

Instead of the using row system, plant individual plants.  Here’s why:

  • It doesn’t take any longer—in fact, it will save you time, since you don’t have to go back through later and pull out the extra seedlings.
  • You will use less seeds (and can save the rest for next year—more on that when I cover starting plants from seed).
  • You can get more plants in less space.  Don’t we all want as many fresh veggies as possible from our garden?
  • I think veggie beds look more natural and prettier this way.  I like pretty. (more…)

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