Monday, March 21, 2011

Makeshift Greenhouse

I’m not sure where I read about this, either in a gardening magazine or online, but it was so clever I couldn’t wait to try it out. I call it my Bed-in-a-Bag Greenhouse. How lucky was it that I was in the market for a new comforter during seed starting season? Seeds started this afternoon included:

Summer Squash: Goldtender/Burpee 2010
Summer Squash: Fordhook Zucchini/Burpee 2010
Cucumber: Armenian Burpless/Botanical Interests 2010
Cucumber: Bush Champion/Burpee 2010
Cucumber: Lemon/Lake Valley Seed 2006
Okra: Clemson Spineless/Cornucopia/2011
Eggplant: Little Prince/Renee’s Garden 2011
Watermelons: Rainbow Sherbet/Renee’s Garden 2011
Thai Basil: Queenette/Renee’s Garden Seeds 2011 
Naturtiums: Cherries Jubilee/Renee’s Garden Seeds 2011

I hadn’t intended to purchase more seeds but during a trip to OSH to pick up seed starting mix I could not resist the temptation.
 I’m excited to start Thai basil, I haven’t tried it from seed before.
This will also be my first attempt at growing eggplant from seed. The variety, Little Prince, is a container type and was recommended by another gardener shopping for seeds today. Fingers crossed. I had seen a sign for a miniature eggplant at a nursery last year but sadly, the stock had been sold out.
Okra will be making its first appearance in my garden this year if all goes as planned.
But the watermelon seed purchase was a disappointment as there were only about 10 seeds included. At $2.99 a package I would expect a few more seeds. According to the package there should have been three varieties of fruit but it appeared to only contain seeds for two types: Yellow Doll which bears yellow-fleshed melons and New Orchid an orange fruit bearing variety. Tiger Baby, which produces pink fruited melons, was missing. The seeds are dyed for identification purposes.
 While three types of cucumber may seem excessive to some our family should have no problem putting each to good use as my youngest son likes to eat them out of hand straight off the vine and I am a fan of chilled cucumber soup, tzatziki and cucumber in my tabouleh.
            I also poked a few more pea, turnip and chard seeds into the raised bed I started back on February 12 and added a few more sweetpea seeds to a large container. In the corners of the bed I sowed seeds of several types of cosmos and a zinnia. There wasn’t much else to be done since the yard was so muddy from all the recent rain. Navigation was not only messy but precarious in spots.
            New today in the garden were a couple of cilantro sprouts I had direct sowed last month. Cilantro is difficult to grow here in summer due to blistering heat but the variety I chose is billed as slow-bolting.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

PEAS PLEASE! A Winter Garden Update

It’s so exciting to see progress in the winter garden. While I could have started earlier, I managed to get several types of seeds planted on Saturday, February 12 without making any new seed purchases.

Of all the seeds I set out four weeks ago, the sugar snap peas have been most successful. There are many strong sprouts with multiple leaf sets.
Here’s the update on the rest: the Swiss chard, one row over from the peas only has a few tiny sprouts that look rather weak. 
The turnips the next row over have shown good germination with decent size sprouts albeit a small amount of insect damage. I have surrounded each sprout with finely crushed egg shells to discourage snails.
Speaking of eggs, the Easter Egg Rainbow radishes purchased in 2006 appear to have a 100 percent germination rate while the Cherry Belle radishes purchased last year showed a disappointing 0 percent. Curiously surprising as the cherry belle are described on the package as “one of the earliest radishes.” The rainbow radishes were planted in a large pot, the others in the raised bed so perhaps warmer soil in the pot made the difference. In which case, there may be hope for the cherry belles?
Out of a full row of carrots planted, a mere two seeds have germinated within only a millimeter of each other. Disappointing. 
There are a few spindly scallions appearing but I am hopeful. 
A few sweet pea flower seeds have sprouted however there is evidence of animal – most likely cat – damage. It appears something has been digging in the pot. In the past, neighborhood cats have used our raised beds and pots as a litter box. Very disgusting, not to mention dangerous as cat feces often carries toxins.

In the half wine barrel where I scattered various lettuce seeds, many are emerging with the arugula making the strongest showing. Others planted there include butter crunch, iceberg and salad bowl types.

All received a serving of fish emulsion on Saturday. It’s great to be out in the garden again. What follows is a list of seeds planted including the manufacturer and year issued of each.

Container Lettuce: Garden Babies Butterhead/Renee’s Garden 2008
Rainbow Radishes: Easter Egg II/Renee’s Garden 2006
Windowbox Sweet Peas: Color Palette Cupid/Renee’s Garden 2010
Looseleaf Lettuce: Salad Bowl/Burpee 2008
Head Lettuce: Iceberg/Cornucopia 2010
Arugula: Rocket/Burpee 2010
Head Lettuce: Buttercrunch/Cornucopia 2010
Carrot: Variety Unknown/Seeds of Joy 2007/08
Carrot: Red Cored Chantenay/Ferry-Morse 2010
Radish: Cherry Belle/Ferry-Morse 2010
Turnip: Purple Top White Globe/Ferry-Morse 2010
Swiss Chard: Large Ribbed Dark Green/Ferry Morse 2010
Basil: Genovese/Burpee 2009
Cilantro: Slow-Bolt/Renee’s Garden 2008
Chives: Common/Burpee 2009
Pea: Sugar Ann/Cornucopia 2010
Scallion: White Lisbon Bunching 2010