It’s That Time Of The Year Again

Yes? Yes! YES! It’s that time of the year. Nooo… not the time of cherries (although that will come too), but even better: the time to start seeds for the spring & summer kitchen garden.

I am giddy, giddy, giddy. First of all, the days are visibly getting longer. Finally! almost 8 hours of direct sun at Laughing Duck Gardens. For other gardeners in the area – the ones that live on flatland – the days are longer with 10 ½ hours between sunrise and sunset, but the mountains surrounding us don’t let us see the sun until later in the morning and we loose it earlier in evening. And, when it sinks down behind Jenkins Mountain around 5:00 in the afternoon, the air chills and the hollow immediately feels somber. So any additional minute is a blessing, and since we bask in almost 40 minutes more of sunlight than a month ago, we have 40 blessings. Secondly, by the end of the month, we will have picked another 1 hour of daylight (60 blessings). Yeah! And then! then, yesterday I started my seeds.

seed-trays-on-heat-mat-feb-3-09

What did I start?

  1. Peppers, lots of peppers this year: bells, Italian, squat ones, long ones, thin-walled, thick-walled, bananas, cubanelle – and only a few hot ones (I think I planted enough hot peppers in 2008 for the crop to last us 5 years). I’ll start more peppers once I receive my new seed orders (the first planting is of seeds left over from prior years). I love peppers, can you tell? grilled, fried, roasted, baked, stuffed, sautéed, in stews, in stir-fries, pickled… not as much raw, though.
  2. I also sowed the early tomatoes and a few eggplants and some ground cherries. In early March (IF I can hold that long! and it IS a big “if”), I’ll start the main crop and the paste tomatoes. But if I want to pick tomatoes in June, I need to start those now, so they are really big by the time I transplant them out, even blooming.

Two trays are now on the heat pad for accelerated germination, in the greenhouse, and swaddled under layers of agrofabric to keep them a little warmer. Ours is a cool-greenhouse after all.

It’s so tempting to start flats and flats of things now, isn’t it? But I reluctantly learn that some things should not be started too early (like the mustard tribe: the mizuna, pac choi, bok choi, tatsoi et all, because they’ll bolt as soon as planted out). I also learn that 4 flats of heat lovers started in January make a lot of big plants that need room – lots of room – by March. As a matter of fact, at 72 plants per tray, that’s 288 plants of tomato, pepper, chile, tomatillo, eggplant, ground cherry, basil etc. Assuming – of course – that you thin each cell to one seedling, as opposed to – ahem!- transplant all the seedlings that look good, which is a lot more than 72 if you’ve got good seeds… Anyway, where do you put them all in March? Listen to me, it’s the voice of experience speaking here: you can’t just stick them out, it simply won’t do. But since the greenhouse is only so big, I have to ration myself. It’s really hard. But I do have plans for big cold frames so I can stick the heat lovers out earlier than usual. We’ll see.

In the meantime…what did I start? Here is the list:

Peppers:

  • CA Wonder
  • Quadrato d’Asti Rosso
  • Keystone Giant
  • Gourmet
  • Gypsy Hybrid
  • Bell Boy Hybrid
  • Goccia d’Oro
  • Corno di Capra
  • Pizza
  • Acongagua
  • Sweet Banana
  • Italian Sweet
  • Jimmy Nardello’s Italian
  • Jalapeno M (hot)
  • Fish (hot)

Tomatoes:

  • Celebrity Hybrid
  • Fantastic Hybrid
  • Yellow Pear
  • Super Sweet 100

Eggplant:

  • Bride Hybrid
  • Little Fingers

Physalis/ground cherries/Cape gooseberries

  • Aunt Molly’s

How about you? When are you starting your indoor sowing? And what are you starting?

3 comments

  1. El says:

    Wow, Sylvie, that’s a lot of peppers!

    Do you start onions from seed, or do you just start them in the gardens? I ask because onions, leeks, celeriac and parsley are the first seeds on my list, mainly because they take so long. I hope to plant them this weekend. It will be a looong time before I start the heat-loving beauties you’ve seeded, so I am quite jealous.

    Have fun!

  2. sylvie says:

    El. Love peppers, they keep for over a month after being picked in the fall, they pickle well, some cultivars dry well and when chopped they freeze well and are great for soups, stews & stir-fries. I also roast and grill them and freeze them that way, and then they are great for pastas and pizzas. I am running out of them (except hot peppers) so clearly did not have enough last year. I also found out that when it’s very hot here, the peppers drop their blossoms so if the fruit have not set before the heat onslaught arrives, there is a big pepper gap in the middle of the summer. Starting them extra early is one way to compensate for that.

    I start leeks & onions from seeds (although I don’t do well with onions), but since fresh seeds are needed for those, and I was a little late ordering, I don’t have the seeds yet, but will start them as soon as I receive them.

    Sylvie

  3. Ed bruske says:

    yes, I am planning to start me onion seeds this week. without a greenhouse, I will be waiting till later for tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, etc.

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