Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Finding My Marbles

Basil sprouts



mini-greenhouses with thermometer inside

Green Zebra tomato sprouts

Black Seeded Simpson lettuce sprouts

Excellent junk found in the garden

Waiting for seeds to sprout brings out the OCD in me. There was added anxiety this time because I'm using all leftover seeds from one, two, even three years ago. So far there doesn't seem to be any noticeable difference in germination rates. I've kept them in plastic bags so they don't desiccate, and I've kept them in the fridge since I got them from Fedco. 

I thought twice about even trying to start tomatoes and peppers because it really was late when I'd officially scored the gardening space. However, I decided that I'd start some and then buy some plants to supplement. As far as tomatoes go, I've got Yellow Fargo Pear, Orange Banana Paste, and Green Zebra. I didn't get tomatoes from these seeds last year because I was unable to start them inside. I direct seeded them, but it was late, and it turned out to be a really bad year for tomatoes at my house. I think I'll be able to baby these this year with a mini-greenhouse to keep the temperatures and humidity high and the wind at bay. So, even thought they're late, I think I can do it!

I started Peacework Peppers too. These are supposed to be quick-growing, early ripening sweet peppers. They were created by folks in upstate NY (Ithaca, I think) and are supposed to be suited to a cooler climate.  I've never grown them, so I'm excited to see what happens. They'll go under the mini-greenhouse, too. 

I made a trip to a local greenhouse to see what plants they had for me to buy. I found some heirloom tomatoes: Red Cherry and Jubilee. The most exciting thing was finding lots of happy little habanero plants. We have lots of dried cayenne peppers left over from last year, so I skipped those and went for the Serrano peppers. I spent $9.45 on 31 baby plants. It actually works out to $.30 a plant, so that's not really a bad deal considering that some of those plants will produce pounds and pounds of tomatoes and eggplants and peppers. 

The Black Seeded Simpson lettuce grows really quickly. If I knew where my garden notebook was, I could share just how quickly we were able to harvest it last year. I remember it was prolific and fast, even after getting mowed down by a groundhog. The other lettuces will take a little longer. I planted a patch of mesclun, which is basically a mix of greens that I had left over: spinach, arugula, and a bunch of other lettuces. I won't let them get too tall before cutting them. Finally, I have a lettuce that I think will be a huge bonus here in the hot, humid summers. Anuenue (ah-nwee-nwee) is heat resistant and slow to bolt. Last year it amazed me during July and August because it wasn't bolting and it was not bitter at all. I had given up on having lettuce in August until I tried this last year.

We've had two frosty nights this week. The thick covering of mulch protected all of the new sprouts. I'm really anxious to get more plants in the ground, but I'm trying to make myself wait until next week to avoid frost. 

Each time I go out in the garden I find another marble. I keep feeding them to the dinosaur I found in the potato bed and that now lives next to the mulch pile. It's good because I had definitely lost my own marbles somewhere along the way.

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