Friday, March 2, 2012

Gardening Floyd: Indoor Seed Starting Continues

Last week I seeded our cole crops.  I also set up the sweet potatoes in jars to start growing slips.  You may remember doing this in elementary school.  Or maybe not - I don't believe our kids ever did this.  But when I was a kid in kindergarten we grew lots of things in paper cups: beans, tomatoes, marigolds, and sweet potatoes in jars on a sunny window ledge.
It takes a good bit of time for the slips to start so you have to be patient.  Especially if you start the slips from grocery store sweets because they've likely been treated to discourage sprouting.  But sprout they will!  Once you have a good sized slip started you clip it from the mother tater and put it in a jar of its own to develop roots.  Each potato will develop multiple slips so keep snipping and rooting them until you have as many as you want.  Once the slips have good roots and the weather's warmed enough, into the garden they'll go!

Last week's seeds are already sprouted.  Now I'm waiting for them to develop their first set of real leaves so I can move each of them up to their own little cell-pak pots.  Cell-paks are those flimsy plastic multi-cell containers that hold vegetable transplants you buy from nurseries and garden supply departments.  When I do buy transplants I find that I can't throw the cell-paks out.  So I try to be gentle with them and I wash and reuse them for my own seeding purposes.  Nestled into a solid bottomed tray, they make bottom-watering delicate seedlings easier.  Top watering little sprouts gives them a bit of a pummeling no matter how careful you are.
These Packman broc sprouts were just top watered.  They'll pop up in a bit but it's hard on them.
Stonehead cabbage and Wawa Tsai Chinese Cabbage.  That's "Stonehead" not "Stoner Head".
Amazing cauliflower.  That's the name of the variety, Amazing.  Who gets to pick the variety names anyway?
Here they are at home on their shelf.
These are tiny Lancelot leeks.
The past two days I seeded our greens.  36 "Fordhook Giant" swiss chard, 54 "Rossa di Verona" radicchio, 108 "Space Saver" spinach, 36 "Sweet Valentine" romaine, 36 "Jericho" romaine, and 72 "Four Seasons" head lettuce.  These will be large enough to transplant outside in a few weeks and we'll direct seed more of these along with a leaf lettuce mix at the same time.  This is usually enough to stagger the harvest and keep us in greens until the heat gets too strong for the plants and they get bitter and bolt.
Trays of seeded salad greens.
Michael and I were hoping to get the peas and onions planted in the gardens tomorrow but even as I write this it's started to pour rain again.  That's the third time this week.  Which means the ground will be too wet to work.  I had hopes because yesterday was clear and windy and this morning was bright.  Everything looked like it was firming up and drying out nicely.  Maybe next week.

***Don't forget the Highlands Maple Festival begins next weekend!  Time to stock up on real Virginia Maple Syrup!  Support Your Local Sugar Bush!***

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