Have you ever wondered if it’s a good idea to stock up on seeds, or how long seeds will last in storage? In this post, I cover how long different varieties of seeds can be stored, the right way to store seeds, expected germination rates after storage, and a simple germination test. I also share my personal favorite seed sources and why I like their seeds. [Read more…]
Alas, my ground outside is still very much covered with snow and ice, and here I am ogling greens seeds old and new. I love the variety you can find by shopping through seed catalogs.
This years planned greens include:
- Lettuce – Rocky Top Mix
- Lettuce – Red Romaine
- Amaranth – Joseph’s Coat
- Lettuce – Really Red Deer Tongue
- Lettuce – Blushed Butter Cos
- Lettuce – Summerlong Gourmet Mix
- Mache – Verte de Cambre
- Spinach – Bloomsdale Long Standing
- Spinach – Bordeaux
- Minutina – Erba de Stella
- Strawberry Spinach (saved seed)
- Spinach (saved seed)
- Kale – Dinosaur (Lacinato)
- Swiss Chard – Five Color Silverbeet
- Kale – Nero de Tuscana
- Kale – Red Russian
- New Zealand Spinach
- Bok Choy – Ching Chang
- Chinese Cabbage – Michili
To get a jump on the season, I’ve got an indoor planting bench and a small greenhouse attached to the house. This year, I decided to try something different and pre-sprouted and grew out some pea seeds just for use as greens. The tender tops and little tendrils make a nice salad addition.
To sprout my peas, I placed them in a wide mouth mason jar, covered them with water and the sprouting strainer lid, and let them soak overnight. In the morning, drain and rinse and leave them on the counter for a few days, rinsing once or twice a day. By the end of they week, you’ve got something like this:
As you can see, the peas have developed mice little root systems. Some of them haven’t sprouted, so those get tossed.
I put some potting soil in old organic salad mix trays, snuggled the little seedlings in and tucked them under the grow lights. At the same time, I started some Rocky Top lettuce mix, some butter Cos, some spinach, some Alyssum and some Painted Tongue.
Two days later, and the peas were coming along nicely.
A week later, and the first pea tops were ready to harvest. The salad greens and flowers were poking up out of the soil. As I said, it’s been really cold and dreary here, so I’m setting no records for rampant growth. I moved all of these trays out to the greenhouse shortly after this photo, and they’ve really been creeping along.
Here’s my first bowl of pea tops.
I added them to a nice mixed salad with some organic store bought greens (a month later, and the lettuce and spinach are almost ready to harvest as micro greens – trying to be patient). Here we’ve got some leftover shell peas from supper the previous night, greens, pea tops, crispy walnuts, raw milk bleu cheese from Nala’s, soaked sunflower seeds, dried cranberries, dried blueberries, balsamic vinegar and flaxseed oil. I regularly enjoy having a big mess o’ salad like this for lunch. Sometimes I’ll add sardines or pickled fish, or fresh sourdough bread slathered with plenty of butter.
Temps are finally warming up this week, so I’ll be starting more seeds inside and hopefully be able to plant outside within the next few weeks. I decided I’m going to use my sprouting jar to pre-sprout my early peas before plating them out in the garden (these really early ones will remain inside for greens) , since I regularly have germination issues with peas when the ground is cold and wet. I’ve got some worm castings from Whitetail Organics to top dress the soil, which adds a nice little nitrogen boost that leafy veggies love (I also add it to my potting mix). The worm castings don’t have the potential disease issues of improperly finished compost or pathogen potential of other manures, which is another reason I like to use vermicompost if I have it. Most greens do well in (or prefer) cooler weather, so they are great season extenders.
What are your favorite greens? Do you have any tips for growing them that you’d like to share?
UPDATE: The snow has finally cleared from the garden, and I can see the semi-permanent greens bed that had just started leafing out last fall coming to life. I’ve been letting this corner of my garden self-seed with mache and strawberry spinach. Last fall it was getting quite overgrown with inedible weeds (the dandelions went in the salad bowl, too), so I cleaned it and added spinach. The little plants are about an inch tall. Yeah!
“Houston, we have a problem.”
Take at look at the photo below. On the right are Painted Tongue seeds planted with the fancy organic potting soil and worm castings at a ratio of 3:1. On the left are the same seeds planted in the organic potting soil only. They didn’t come up at all. Other seeds that did come up sat there, stunted, refusing to grow.
Now, common sense would have indicated that I do a soil test before I started planting, but I thought “Hey, this is fancy organic potting soil and it should make the plants grow really well.” Grrrrr…. [Read more…]
All the seed orders have arrived, so I have no more excuses not to get starting seeds. I have a pretty good sized garden (not as big as some of my friends – wow!), about an acre or so. It’s a bit of a crazy quilt. I like to plant a lot of different things – vegetables, flowers, herbs, all jumbled together.
Reasons I Plant so Many Different Vegetables, Fruits, Flowers and Herbs
Pest Control – If the critters are going to come after my plants, I want them to have to work for for their lunch. I recommend the book Great Garden Companions for some ideas on how to use plant families and their companion plants to boost your garden production. [Read more…]
Given the fact that we are likely to have to relocate soon because of my husband’s job search, it may be folly to be putting in a large garden again. But I just can’t help it – it’s who I am, and as long as I have dirt to plant in, I’m planting. One way or another, it will probably take at least several months to sell and relocate, even if he lands a job in the next few weeks, so by then I could have some or all of the harvest in. I’m willing to gamble. Besides, working in the dirt helps keep my mind off of all the things I don’t have any control over.
I started several hundred little seedlings on my nifty planting shelf setup with grow lights that my husband built for me about six years ago. I don’t have a recent picture, but you can get the idea from this photo taken a couple of years ago. (I was growing the hair out for Locks of Love.)
The lights are on adjustable chains, so they can be raised as the plants grow, and we keep it parked by a south window. It has wheels, too, so even though it’s fairly heavy it can be moved around easily.
From the plant stand the seedlings graduate to the attached greenhouse, which is located off the southeast corner of our basement.
Love this setup for convenience. the only negative is that to make the deck on the main level more accessible we had to run a catwalk over part of the greenhouse, so it doesn’t get quite as much sun as I would like, which can make the plants a little leggy (tall and skinny as the stretch for the light).
Any legginess issues are generally remedied during the final transition before the garden, hardening off in the cold frames or snuggled next to the house. We got a couple of damaged patio doors from my in-laws and my husband built cold frames to match the doors. The whole set up is quite heavy, but this is good because of the high winds we get around here. Anything lighter that I’ve tried to use for covering (floating row covers, flexible plastic, etc.) has ended up blowing right off the plants.
Milk and vinegar jugs are filled with water and placed around the plants provide an extra wind break and some thermal mass to regulate the temperature swings (mainly to help prevent freezing at night). I like the vinegar bottles better because they’re sturdier and clear.
I put a few things in the garden back in April (potatoes, peas and onions), but the weather has been quite cool this spring – one nice day and then six chilly ones. At this point I’m about half done, give or take. On Tuesday the boys and I put in the corn patches.
They were so cute. They used an old bone that we found in the compost to measure between each kernel. The rest of the week turned cold and wet, so we didn’t get too much further, but I hope to make some progress today (we did need the rain).
Here’s a list of what I’m planting to plant or have already planted.
Mini Chocolate Bell
King of the North Bell
Bulgarian Carrot (hot)
Purira (REALLY HOT)
Jimmy Nardello’s Sweet Pepper
Thai Long Green
Green Zebra – slicer
Pink Pearl Cherry
Tigerella – small slicer
Better Boy – slicer
Glacier – early slicer
Garden Peach – fuzzy!
Pruden’s Purple – looks more pink to me
Sun Gold Cherry
Grandma Tess’ Landrace Current tomato
San Marzano Paste
Purple Russian Paste
Long Keepers 2005 – personal breeding experiment for long keeping tomatoes
Long Keepers 2007 – same
Crystal Palace Blue Lobelia
Pastel Carpet Alyssum
Royale Mix Painted Tongue
Blue Wave Petunia – pelleted
Jolly Jester Marigold
Grandiflora Mix Gaillardia
Italian Flat Leaf Parsley
I know there are watermelons: Gold Baby, Peace (yellow), Blacktail Mountain, Chelsea and other melons: Jenny Lind, Minnesota Midget, Swan Lake, Prescott Fond Blanc, Charentais, Eden’s Gem.
For squash/pumpkins I have Lumina, Lady Godiva, Anna Swartz Hubbard, Big Max, Galeux d’Eysines, Long Pie pumpkin, Marina d’ Chioggia, Delicata, Sweet Dumpling and Costata Romanesca Zucchini.
I directed seeded Kennebec and Yukon Gold potatoes, still need to get in the Peruvian Purples. I planted Green Arrow peas, will also add Sugar Snap and Tall Telephone peas.
Red and yellow onions
Half a dozen carrot types (Scarlet Keeper, Nutrisweet, Yellowstone (yellow), Dragon (purple), Nantes Coreless and Amsterdam).
Spring Treat and Tuxedo sweet corn.
Beets- Burpees Golden, a striped Italian (PAONAZZA D EGITTO), Intermediate mangel (these are huge sugar beets – really sweet).
Beans – Emerite, Golden Crescent, and Purple podded pole beans. Several shell bean been varieties (will have to check which stocks are lowest and need growing out for seed).
Lettuces and other greens – strawberry spinach, mache, minutina, claytonia.
Brassicas – bok choy, Cheddar cauliflower, Nutribud broccoli, Red Acres cabbage, Goliath (?) kohlrabi, Laurentian rhutabaga, Gold Ball turnips, Roodnerf Brussels Sprouts, Chinese cabbage
Cucumbers – Cool Breeze, Parisian Pickling, Suyo Long, Telegraph Improved European, Lemon
There are assorted herbs and flowers mixed in, too. Good thing the garden is around an acre now so I’ve got plenty of room.