Now you see them....
Now you don't...
Because they are now here!
Which took 1 hour, approx 7000 steps (according to my Fitbit)....and was a daunting activity (but good exercize!)...me covered in green pollen, potting mix...etc
By the way, the plants are looking really good - they will go back out on Thursday - so let's call Friday the start of your pre-arranged visits to get some. Pics below - eggplant, ground cherries, hot peppers and tomatoes...a few days in the garage while Mother Nature threatens frost and blows her winds will be good for these babies! See you soon.....
Well, at least I know what my job will be tomorrow. By tomorrow night, the driveway will be empty, and the garage (and probably crawlspace) full. It is just not worth chancing - it isn't just the threat of cold, but a windy, wet, rainy cold, which from experience makes for some ugly, unhappy veggie seedlings.
Given this - and the near certainty that Wednesday is going to be chilly, windy and possibly frosty...the plants will be living indoors until Thursday. Therefore, seedling availability will begin on Friday at the earliest....
I did do some gardening today - aside from the usual transplanting activity. On my deck now sit a selection of 5 gallon containers, in which I planted three different types of Mustards, a selection of lettuce, arugula, Red Russian Kale, collards and Swiss Chard. Salads, smoothies, sautees imminent!
I want to start by saying what a pleasure it was to speak at West Point on the Eno yesterday. There were lots of familiar faces, and it is always great to see my host there, wonderful Jessica Leff. Somehow, my two hour slot filled the full two hours, due to the many interesting and well-thought out questions. As always, we all learned things together. And yes, I was completely exhausted afterward...the rest of the day was a bit of a blur!
Today was a simply beautiful day - after a long walk (in a haze of yellow-green pollen), hours were spent transplanting, watering and getting a garden row ready for greens and beets. Let's hope for more of the same tomorrow (alas, Tuesday is forecast to be fairly horrendous, and nighttime temps in the coming days approach frost....fingers crossed that it stays well above 32!).
I've been curious as to whether things this year are that much later than previous years for tomato seedling selling and planting time. And so, the stats part of the blog. Below are first available seedling dates, which usually align with my first dates at the Farmers Market
2013 - availability of seedlings starts week of April 15, first weekend at the market April 19-20
2012 - first available April 6-7, market sales begin April 13
2011 - market sales begin April 15
2010 - availability begins April 9, market begins April 16
2009 - availability begins April 16
2008 - market sales begin April 19
2007 - no records
2006 - availability begins April 8
2005 - availability begins April 17
2004 - availability begins April 17
2003 - availability begins April 13
2002 - availability begins April 13
2001 - no records
2000 - no records
1999 - no records
So the earliest availability has been April 6 or thereabouts (2012, 2010, 2006) or a bit later, April 15-ish (2013, 2011, 2009, 2008, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002)
The plants are progressing nicely - especially the tomatoes - and my thought is this coming Thursday, April 17, will be the beginning of making appointments to come out to our house to browse the driveway - essentially the same as the majority of seasons over the past 12 years. Funny how assumptions can turn out wrong - everything is pretty much on time! The eggplant and peppers will still be small, but they are healthy! In fact, the seedlings overall look better than they did last year (no herbicide drift issues this season!).
I will be responding to emails a bit later on tonight - for those who haven't contacted me yet, send your lists and let's set up a pick up time - email to email@example.com
Let the season begin!
What a beautiful day! (I suspect a bit too beautiful - do people really want to spend an hour or two listening to me talk gardening indoors, or be outside playing in the garden???). If you do happen to pop by the gorgeous park at West Point on the Eno, it will be worth your while....you don't have to register in advance, and the fee at the door is really very small. Details for my talk, which starts at 1 PM, can be found here.
Rather than my typical focus on tomatoes, I am going to talk about success factors for our 2014 gardens - since for many crops seed starting is done, it will really span from planting to harvest, including a dive into soil, conditions, trouble shooting, a bit on seed saving, harvest and preservation....think whatever activity starts in early April and runs through to frost. I've got some really colorful slides to use as a guide, but these informal talks are always best driven by the questions from the audience.
The talk is in the blacksmith shop, a small wooden building to the right of the main white house that has the garden in the rear. Because my seedlings are still quite tiny, I won't have any with me today to sell (I just got back in from watering - they are simply too small to let leave home!)...but I am bringing a full set of the released Dwarf tomatoes for Jessica to plant in the demo garden there. If all goes well, anyone walking the gardens from mid-summer onward - particularly at the July festival - will get to see what our project has produced to date. If you want seedlings, we can discuss how to get them in the class - or email me (firstname.lastname@example.org).
I hope to see some of you there. And, hopefully, the coming week (probably later on in the week) could see the start of your visits to our driveway to get your veggie seedlings. Watch the blog for the latest.
I thought it would be helpful to show the status of the seedlings through pics....so here goes.
In order, there are 3 views of the driveway - then Dwarf tomatoes, eggplant, Cossack Pineapple ground cherries, hot peppers, sweet peppers and indeterminate tomatoes. Healthy...and still small! (and plentiful!)
I will be at West Point at the Eno talking tomatoes and gardening tomorrow, April 12, from 1-3 PM....
Silly me (or at least confused me...) - I had it in my schedule for April 19. But...my mistake - it is tomorrow. It means a bit of a mad scramble as I pull my talk together today - and there will be far less seedlings accompanying me, since they are still so small. The topic is Planting the Garden - Tips for Success. I will focus on what I've learned through the years as critical factors to consider when planting your spring time garden, through caring throughout the season and even seed saving techniques....and of course, will be addressing all questions posed to me as best I can. These are always informal, fun and a great way to share those things that work great (and not so great), in efforts of improving our gardens each year.
Because the plants are so small, my preference is not to bring any special orders - just a small and representative selection of those varieties I have that are off to the most vigorous start. Any attendees (or others) wishing to purchase plants will have to set up a time to come out to your house, probably starting mid to end next week - send an email to me at email@example.com to set up a time and get directions - you can pre-send a reserve list as well (see my 2014 From The Vine page for the available varieties list).
Sorry for the short notice, and hope to see you at West Point on the Eno tomorrow - click the link for more info and directions.
The weather is improving, so the seedlings are growing. Over the past few days, I've been writing the labels (I always try to change around my seedling preparation process, so that it doesn't get boring). This year I was transplanting fast and putting only 1 label in entire trays, which left the labeling process once a suitable transplanting milestone was met. The driveway has been a fine place to sit and write tags as the birds sung around me (and the pollen drifted in!).
Very brief impressions of the seedlings:
Tomatoes - looking quite good, and quite small (still) - I think that one week of warm weather will do wonders for them, so my current best availability guess is a week from tomorrow - say, Thursday April 17.
Peppers - also looking good, but even smaller, as they need more heat. Those willing to take the risk can go for April 17, but the plants will be much better one week further out - April 24 or so.
Eggplant - need the most heat of all, so the smallest....thinking April 24 at the earliest. Same goes for Cossack Pineapple ground cherries.
Still, situations can change (I heard the dreaded frost word mentioned on tonight's local weather report for a week or so out....but I am not sure I believe it).
Yesterday was a really special day....our daughter Caitlin turned 29. We had a wonderful birthday party dinner here for her. She is such a sweetie, and we are so proud of her.
I guess you could say this is a day that changed my life. Exactly 34 years ago, on April 7, 1979, I was persuaded to attend a party (I was a grad student at Dartmouth College at the time). Someone named Susan Angus was similarly persuaded by her friends to attend the same party. She was the first person I saw as I walked in the door.
The rest is history....Sue and I got married in December of 1980. But she really has been my best friend since that chance meeting, on this day, 34 years ago. Am I a lucky guy, or what!
OK - enough romance stuff...we just returned from a really nice trip to Topsail Beach to visit with family of my wife's childhood friends. We had a great time...and while we were gone, the seedlings sat in the driveway and continued adjusting to life outside. Today they are getting watered (is that an understatement, or what!).
Though they appear to be healthy (I've not had a chance to really take a good look at them), my view from the window shows continued tininess. They are still really small (no surprise considering the weird cold spring and lack of perfect growing conditions). My current guess is that they will need a few weeks of good weather to size up sufficiently to be able to leave home.
So, my current best guess for initial availability is April 18 or so...but keep watching my blogs - things can change fast!
I've noticed for a few mornings that just a few of my pots seem to be internally reorganized - meaning some critter was digging around in them - I suspected squirrels. Not a big problem, and no plants lost. Since my driveway is now becoming populated with adjusting, growing seedlings, I figured it was time to put out at least one Water Scarecrow motion detector deer deterring device.
This morning I noticed that although no plants died, the deer clearly moved down my driveway overnight - hopefully the sprinkler prevented them from lingering and chomping (the seedlings would be microgreens for them at the moment, anyway). But their clomping hooves crunches about half a dozen pots. Remarkably, the plants in the pots survived and are now resettled into new pots and replaced growing medium.
But....yet another reminder that for gardeners (and farmers, of course), it is always something - the unpredictable weather and all the issues it brings, critters....and, soon, diseases. I guess we who dig and plant can therefore be considered either optimists (although it is always something, there is always a chance to do it again, and better)....or fools to keep trying in the face of so much adversity! (just kidding...it is all totally worth it!).
I feel quite honored to have been asked by Niki Jabbour (author of two great gardening books - Groundbreaking Food Gardens, and The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener and the host of the weekly gardening radio show that I've been fortunate enough to participate in a few times each gardening season) to contribute to a wonderful gardening blog, Savvy Gardening. The article can be found here. Thanks, Niki, and have a superb 2014 garden!
Today was a good transplanting day (and I also got to listen to the first Boston Red Sox game, streamed in the garage on my laptop, as background enjoyment!). I am pretty much through at least a few transplants of most everything we will have as seedlings this year. Anything that germinated poorly or struggled as young seedlings was reseeded yesterday.
There are trays of tiny seedlings in my driveway!