Tag Archives: seedlings

All in!


All the pots have been moved to this location so they are watered while I'm away.

All the pots have been moved to this location so they are watered while I’m away.

The process of getting the garden in went into high gear this week as we prepared to head out of town.  It was really a family effort, with my husband doing much of the structural work and hauling of supplies and the kids helping me with seedlings, seeds, weeds and watering.

I knew several months ago that the garden was going to be more productive this year, but I had no idea just how many things we would be able to squeeze in.  I’ve used every inch of dirt and nearly every pot we have.  The result is a backyard full of dozens of varieties of vegetables and beautiful flowers.  I can’t wait to see how it all grows and what we are able to do with it.  I’m especially hoping to be able to preserve more to eat throughout the off-season.

Why do it this way instead of planting fewer varieties but more of them?  Done that way, I could have enough tomatoes to make all the sauce we’d need for the year.  But I wouldn’t have anything else.  And it wouldn’t be much fun.

Planting several varieties ensures that there will be successes, even amid failures.  If tomatoes get blight, there are still many other edibles to enjoy.  Variety is also a great way to draw beneficial insects to the garden.  Each one may attract something different.

And of course, variety is beautiful!

Herb garden is planted with parsley, chamomile, dill, lavender, thyme, sage, tarragon and chives.

Herb garden is planted with parsley, chamomile, dill, lavender, thyme, sage, tarragon and chives.

My husband helped the kids create their own little garden.  They have dinosaur kale and begonias.

My husband helped the kids create their own little garden. They have dinosaur kale and begonias.

My husband installed this lattice.  I'm planning to use it for cucumbers and zucchini.  The rest of the bed is planted with garlic, bush beans, nasturtiums, marigolds, two kinds of lettuce, various beets, celery, celariac, onions, radishes and swiss chard.

My husband installed this lattice. I’m planning to use it for cucumbers and zucchini. The rest of the bed is planted with garlic, bush beans, nasturtiums, marigolds, two kinds of lettuce, various beets, celery, celariac, onions, radishes and swiss chard.

This area has three tomato plants as well as pole beans, fava beans and watermelon.

This area has three tomato plants as well as pole beans, fava beans and watermelon.

This bed is planted with tomatoes, marigolds, three kinds of kale, fennel, two kinds of carrots, broccoli, pak choi, walking onion, leeks, red onions, nasturtiums and strawberries.

This bed is planted with tomatoes, marigolds, three kinds of kale, fennel, two kinds of carrots, broccoli, pak choi, walking onion, leeks, red onions, nasturtiums and strawberries.

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Leaves & Shoots: A tale of basement gardening success.


It may not be the coldest March on record, but it’s starting to feel like the longest.  At least here in Wisconsin, where I haven’t seen the grass since February.  And the sun, haven’t seen much of that either.

But I can’t complain too much.  You see, despite frightful cold and lingering snow, I’ve been gardening.  Not outside like last year, when record warmth allowed peas and radishes to go in the ground in March.  No, this year I’ve got a basement garden up and running.

I started it back in January so that I could grow wheatgrass for juicing.  That was so successful that I thought I might expand into lettuces.  Success again!  And now that it’s March I have my garden starts growing under the lights too.

This is the only grass to be found at my house.

This is the only grass to be found at my house.

Has wheatgrass been the key to staying healthy this winter?  Hmmm...

Has wheatgrass been the key to staying healthy this winter? Hmmm…

I’m having so much fun experimenting with this.  My setup is simple–two grow lights hung from the rafters and heat mats below.   The lights are on a timer system, so they come on and shut off automatically.  I just have to make sure everything has enough water.

Basement gardening.  Our basement is typically 55 degrees in the winter, but the heat mats and lights make it warm enough for germination.

Basement gardening. Our basement is typically 55 degrees in the winter, but the heat mats and lights make it warm enough for germination.

You should know that I have no idea what I’m doing, I’ve never done this before and I did basically no research before setting it up.  But it’s working!  And I’m pretty excited about it.

Last week I enjoyed my first salad from the basement and today I had another for my dinner.  Because I planted a whole tray of “cut and come again” leaf lettuce, I’ll get to enjoy 3 or 4 more salads at least.  And by the time I eat the last salad, I should be able to do some potted lettuces outside.  In fact, the spinach that I overwintered will likely be producing by then.  (Fingers crossed!)

Lettuces under the lights.

Lettuces under the lights.

The lights stay on for 12 hours a day.

The lights stay on for 12 hours a day.

I brought the lettuce up to a sunny spot today before cutting for dinner.

I brought the lettuce up to a sunny spot today before cutting for dinner.

This is probably enough light to keep them up here... if only we had sun like this every day.

This is probably enough light to keep them up here… if only we had sun like this every day.

Tray after cutting of lettuce.  Now it will return to the basement or sit next to the patio door and grow more lettuce leaves.

Tray after cutting of lettuce. Now it will return to the basement or sit next to the patio door and grow more lettuce leaves.

Lettuce ready to be dressed for dinner.

Lettuce ready to be dressed for dinner.

Tomatoes and other veggie starts easily germinate under these ideal conditions.

Tomatoes and other veggie starts easily germinate under these ideal conditions.

I have also started some herbs with the intent of growing them in a pot in the house.  In addition to that, my kids planted some peas in take out containers so that we can add pea shoots to our salads.

I’m not going to let this miserably cold weather stop me from enjoying my hobby.  I’ve just had to find different ways to grow while I wait out winter.

Photos from the month of April.


To better view the photos in this edition of “Photos from…” click on a photo.  You’ll be able to scroll through a slide show of all the photos.

The beet ravioli recipe is here:  Michael Symon’s Goat Cheese and Beet Ravioli.  I substituted ricotta cheese for the goat cheese and sage for the tarragon with delicious results.

Photos from the second week of May.


Peas keep coming up. Looking forward to eating these fresh out of the garden.

60 gladioli for $4, not a bad deal! Love how these add color in otherwise drab spots of my yard.

Started the process of hardening off seedlings this week.

Baby spinach ready for harvesting. Enjoyed some on my Mother's Day panini.

Beet seedlings emerge. I love how they are red, just like the beets.

A purple hyacinth, so pretty especially close-up.

A lovely tulip bouquet from the garden.

Making more room for tomatoes.


My tomato seedlings have really been growing the last week or two.  It was time to move them out of the seed starting tray and into pots.  While they’ll still have 3-4 weeks before they can go in the ground, they are developing root systems and leaves which will make them strong and healthy for the growing season.

I did this repotting project indoors due to some wild wind outside.

 

I put each tomato plant into a pot and made sure to label it before I forgot which type it was.

 

I used to use peat pots for this step of the gardening process, but there’s been a lot of press lately on the topic of peat and it looks like there are now better alternatives available.  I’ll be looking into this more as I current use peat moss as part of my raised bed filler.  Perhaps there is a more sustainable option I can use.  In the meantime, I’ve made the switch to these 100% peat-free renewable coir pots.  They work the same way, and can be planted right into the garden just as I did with the peat pots.

Here's a tip: A child's garden spade is just the right size for filling small pots with potting mix.

In the above photo you can see I’ve also transplanted the impatiens I started from seed.  Only 7 plants grew in my tray of 70!  That’s a terrible germination rate… and now I’ll be buying a tray of impatiens at the garden center.

Here are the tomatoes, all potted up, labeled and now getting a drink of water from the tray they are sitting in. It's best to water from the bottom, and very easy if the plants are sitting in a tray. The tray will also make it easy to take them outside during the hardening off process.Tomatoes and other seedlings soaking up some May sun.

 

Tomatoes and other seedlings soaking up some May sun.

Seedling Update


Seedling setup.

It’s been a few weeks since I started my second tray of seeds.  For the most part, nature is taking its course and itty bitty versions of my favorite plants have popped up.  There are a few stinkers in the bunch though, a problem that vexes me year after year.  Why don’t some seeds germinate?

These imapatiens are some of the few that germinated out of a tray of 64.

It’s obvious that conditions are not right for the tray of impatiens I had hoped to grow.  I’m not sure where I went wrong with this one.  A few seeds seem to like the accommodations I’ve provided, but the vast majority do not.  Maybe the starting mix is too wet, or too cold.  My previous experience with starting flowers from seed was extremely successful–I grew six varieties of zinnias, they were so healthy and beautiful.  This tray of impatiens is a pitiful sight.

The good news is that veggies and herbs are thriving.  Thinking about the tomatoes and eggplants that these tiny plants will become makes me happy!  Maybe I’ve started too many plants, but I do this in case there is any trouble.  I like to have some back up plants just in case.  It’s insurance.  Inevitably, I’ll be searching out adoptive  parents for my extra seedlings come Memorial Day.

This tomato is showing some nice leaves. All tomato varieties came up with no problems.

Every day I turn the tray around because these tiny plants lean right into the sunlight.

Noticeably, eggplant and pepper seeds are taking longer than the others.  I hope they come up just fine in the next few days.  I’m trying to keep them warm by putting them on the heat vent at night.  They are getting plenty of warmth from the sun during the day.  I’ve never had a problem with these in the past, so I’m expecting them to pop up eventually.

So what’s the next step?  Well, this weekend I will be transplanting some lettuces and spinach into pots outside.  If we are threatened with hard frosts I can always haul the pots inside or cover with a blanket.

I have begun planting seeds outside.  This week my son and I put in the peas and arugula.  I hope to have the head lettuce and radishes in by the weekend as well.  It’s still cold at night here, but not too cold for these types of seeds.  They even like the cold.

Our weather in Southeastern Wisconsin has been cool, damp and rather dismal.  It’s to be expected, but I long for one of those freakishly warm April days that are just right for working outside and getting that first touch of sun on my white wintry skin.  Wouldn’t some warm sun feel good about now?  I think my plants would agree.

I’ve been taking my rosemary and lemon tree outside during the day.  They’ll need a few weeks of this to adjust to outdoor conditions.  The lemon tree has set some new buds and I’m hoping that taking it outdoors will toughen it up enough to hold onto those buds rather than dropping them like the last set.  In a few weeks I will pot it up to the next size of pot and add organic fruit fertilizer to the mix.  With any luck it might produce a lemon or two this year.  Now if I could just get some bees to come back to my yard to take care of pollinization–that lemon tree’d be all set!

A new set of lemon tree buds brings new hope that this tree may produce fruit in 2011.

I’ve always enjoyed videos that show how a seed grows (thanks to my 80’s childhood watching Sesame Street I’m sure) so here is a link to a nice example from Nova:  Teachers’ Domain: From Seed to Flower.

It’s the beginning of an exciting time of year for me.  A time of hope and expectation, a time for work and play.  It’s off to a good start!