Just getting this in under the wire! My dense planting video was a bit longer than I expected (too long for YouTube upload), so I spent time editing it to see if it will work...if not, tomorrow will be a re-take (I left one flat of tomatoes to plant just in case).
The seeds are germinating very well - on day 7, the greens and beets flat have life in 41 of 42 cells (lettuce Winter Density remains the only no show). The Eggplant/Hot pepper flat really took off the last few days - 11 of 15 eggplant, 3 of 4 tomatillos, and 20 of 31 peppers are off and running. The sweet pepper/experimental pepper flat is a bit slower, with 21 of 50 cells still asleep.
Back to work tomorrow....
I will post some pics later - the lettuce, beet, pepper, eggplant etc seedlings are leaping out of the soil. Yesterday was a good day - got countless padded envelopes of seeds out to mostly everyone who is involved in the Dwarf Project in the US and Canada...(big relief there!). Now tracking everyone's results will be another matter, but I will worry about that at the appropriate time.
The birds are really hungry right now - I am filling our tube feeders a few times a week (smart birds - they know the Choice mix from Wild Birds Unlimited is "good stuff"!). Our dogs enjoy snatching up everything that falls to the ground whenever they are in the back yard. Most common visitors recently are the Brown Thrasher that sits on a suet block like he owns it; the Hermit Thrush that takes his turn when the Thrasher moves on....then the Bluebirds that use it when the Thrush is gone. Of course, when the Red Bellied Woodpecker swoops in, everyone scatters! We've never seen as many White Throated Sparrows as this winter - they cover the ground under the feeder, along with Juncos and Cardinals. And we have frequent visits from the Pine and Myrtle Warblers, Goldfinch and Purple Finch. Great way to lower the blood pressure, just watching the feeder activity for a few minutes.
Ah, the Olympics - I can't skate or ski to save my life, but we do enjoy watching those great athletes show off their stuff. Too many commercials, but all in all, some enjoyable moments.
If all goes well, by this evening, I will have three flats of tomato plantings to go alongside the soon-to-be-crowded scene on the planting table! Watch later for some action photos of tomato seed planting, mass production style!
Harbingers of spring...emerging seedlings! My seedling flats in front of my office window
Some close ups - lettuce seedlings
Emerging Swiss Chard Bright Lights just 5 days after planting
Lots of beets! These are Burpee Golden Beets.
Finally, some eggplant seedlings on day 5.
Today, lots to do - finish sending off seeds to the Dwarf Project volunteers, and try to get at least one flat of tomatoes planted (out of a total of 3.....all to be planted by tomorrow if possible!). The season is definitely underway. Bring on the warm weather!
I am staring to feel as though this is going to be a "late" season, in that rather than nice healthy seedlings sitting in my driveway in mid April, lingering cold weather could push things more toward late April. But Mother Nature is fickle and unpredictable, and warm weather could be closer than it feels....but sitting here writing this entry, the gray sky threatening flurries, it sure feels like winter is going to be stubborn about releasing its grip this year!
So onto something more pleasant to report...it is just 3 days since planting lettuce, spinach, beets and other greens, and life is springing up in all but 6 of the 72 flat cells. In truth, 22 of the cells showed life in just 2 days. I'm not using a heat mat on this flat, so it is clear that these crops germinate just fine - and very quickly - in ambient temperature (my office tends to run at around 65-67 degrees F).
Nothing is showing in the pepper/eggplant/tomatillo flats yet, which isn't surprising - typically, 4 days is as fast as I've seen eggplant or sweet peppers, with hot peppers emerging at 7 days, at least.
For those who want to know which lettuce varieties I am growing, here is the list:
Mikola, Forellenschluss, Laitue Grosse Brune Paresseuse, Cherokee, Magenta, Red Lepracaun, Italianischer, Dalgali, Mottistone, Teide, Blackjack, Kagraner Summer, Bunyards Matchless, Bioinda a Foglia Riccia di Taglio, Winter Density, Spotted Aleppo, Sunset, Grettona, Brauner Trotzkopf, Purplus, Jeanne, Australian Yellowleaf, Brown Goldring, Cracoviensis, Bologna, Dark Lollo Rossa....I am in the hands of my friend Jeff for most of these (a few, in italics, are great JSS varieties I've enjoyed the last few years). Don't ask me to try to pronounce some of them!
And Spinach varieties Renegade, Tyee, Scarlet and Emu
My main tasks tonight - finish sending out dwarf project seed and prepare for the first tomato planting. We'll see how the energy holds out...
I finally got my hands into the dirt today! I am sure it is easier for most others....for me (who ends up treating each season like a science experiment), it is all about figuring out exactly which vials of seeds for any given crop to grow. And there is a method to my madness (sort of...)
So right now, in the sunny south facing window of my office, is a flat of lettuce, spinach, chard, kale and beets. I like to plant thickly in the 1.5 inch cells, then transplant to larger pots prior to the move to the garden - it gives me more control of what I grow and allows me to track germination better. Plus I find that with so many weeds in my garden, direct seeding anything except beans and squash ends up in a mess.
I am trying pre-planting beets this year as an experiment. Because you end up with several seedlings per seed, it turns into an exercize in thinning. I am going to try to avoid that by using small transplants, hoping to get larger, more uniform beets, less troubled by weeds (it is me that the weeds trouble, really!).
Thanks to my Michigan gardener friend Jeff, I have a nice selection of unusual lettuce to try. I planted 26 types of lettuce this morning, between 15-20 seeds of each - a mix of cos, leaf and crisphead types of all sorts of colors and origins. I also plants 4 types of spinach, Red Russian kale, arugula, and Swiss Chard Bright Lights. Finally, I seeded four types of beets - Burpee Golden, Touchstone Gold, Chioggia, and Ruby Queen.
This afternoon I hope to get eggplant, hot and sweet peppers seeded...then, later this week, get to the crown jewel of summer crops - tomatoes!
I was reading the paper this morning and noticed that the birds sounded different - the songs sweeter, almost as if they are signalling that spring time is just around the corner. Sure there is still a one foot pile of snow and sleet on our deck and mud everywhere, but the Hydrangeas and Fig tree have swelling leaf buds, and daffodils are poking out of the ground.
The past few days I've really gotten back into the gardening mood. I've updated my seed logs, decided what I am going to grow, and am about to send seeds out to Dwarf project volunteers. I even cleaned off the garage seedling bench, so tomorrow is seed planting day - lettuce, hot and sweet peppers, and eggplant. And tomatoes will closely follow. I can't wait!