What kinds of seeds are you planting this year? Are they seeds you’ve saved from previous years or ones from a favorite vendor? This is what we have so far, at least of those that need to be started indoors.
I love rummaging through flea markets and 2nd hand stores. This year, I stumbled upon a huge stack of plastic 12 cell cupcake holders, approximately 6 or 7 dozen, for $6.00. We usually use the Jiffy start trays that I save from year to year, refill with jiffy discs, and start seed in them. Most of them were so badly cracked last year that I threw away all of them. I used the shallow aluminum disposable baking trays covered with plastic wrap last year and had great success. This year, when I saw the cupcake holders, I grabbed them in a feverish, football pass grab and hold, with lights flashing, I scurried to the checkout grinning like a Cheshire cat. The lady at the checkout asked what I was going to do with all them and as I told her, you could actually see the look of failure on her part to think of that and save them for herself. It’s an inexpensive substitute for the Jiffy trays, equating to just a few cents a piece. With the box of Jiffy discs, I guestimated that each box of the discs would cost about $3.30 to start, vs $7.00 if one were to buy the premade, pre-set-up version at the store. This is what we’ve started so far.
Sweet banana peppers
Sweet Chocolate bell peppers
Sweet orange bell peppers (still need to start the green bell peppers)
Jet Star tomatoes
chocolate cherry tomatoes
Late Flat Dutch cabbage
and…ta da….last, but not least 10 trays of asparagus seeds. I’d purchased 4 packets of Martha Washington asparagus seeds in 2012 from a friend. They’ve never been planted since we didn’t have a place decided upon to plant them. And, as I was digging through the seed bucket, I found 2 giant sized packets of asparagus seeds from Jon, a great friend and garden mentor that I got from him at the Missouri Organic Association convention some 3 years ago. One packet held about a tablespoon full of seeds, so they are plentiful and each eaked out 2 trays each of asparagus plants in processing. From him, there was a packet of Jersey Knight asparagus and the other was just marked asparagus. I am assuming that these are the Martha Washington variety too. I know these seeds are a little older. I just hope and pray that they germinate and grow their little hearts out.
Now, you ask, what in the world am I going to do with 10 trays of asparagus plants? Well, plant them of course. We’ll be doing some mighty fine eating in a year or 2, and the patrons at the farmer’s market will be happy too. Then, there are more seeds to sell, trade or barter. We will be happy campers canning all that asparagus.
Today, the main project is to make the potato bins so that I can get the seed potatoes planted on St. Patty’s day. It was something that my grandfather did, always worked for him, has always worked for us. We’re choosing to plant the potatoes vertically this year, hoping to get a better yield than in years past and to save garden space. We’ve tried to grow them on top of the ground, covered with mulch and hay, tried the conventional deep hill method, neither of which work all that well here in the Midwest.
I am hoping that I can get outside in a little while and sow the lettuce seeds. There is a huge variety that I usually plant, and as silly as it seems. I mix all the leaf lettuces and broadcast them directly into their plot of ground. Mesclun, black seeded simpson, salad bowl variety. The iceberg lettuce is planted individually, on homemade planting tape. These are simple and easy to make using a strip of paper towel, paper napkin or tissue paper, dab a spot of glue made with flour and water onto predetermined spaces, and dropping a seed or two onto each “glue” spot. With these tapes, the paper and “glue” is biodegradable, and makes planting in even spaces much, much easier for those miniscule seeds. Just lay the tape into a shallow furrow, lightly brush over a bit of soil and gently, very gently pat it down with the palm of your hand. The rule of thumb in planting seeds is to plant seeds at a depth of soil only as much as the seed is wide. It’s an old farmer’s trick that was passed on from my Native American grandfather to my father, then to me…and now to my son.
There is a bucket load, literally, of more seeds to plant as soon as the weather warms up here. Most of those are ones that can be directly sown into the ground like:
Sugar sweet pumpkin (tiny but make terrific pumpkin pie)
a few, and a very few zucchini and yellow crookneck squash
Blue Lake green beans
sugar snap peas
We do a lot of companion planting to conserve space. I do a 3 sisters method with corn, beans and squash, plant onions (not this year though) in and amongst the peppers and tomatoes, and okra in and amongst the peas, onions or zucchini. Okra is so versatile, has no bad companions, so we plant in among the shorter plants and it produces more than enough for the 2 of us. I like the concept of companion planting and the 3 Sisters method. Each of the elements in planting with a 3 sisters method is supportive of the other. Beans and legumes will enrich the soil with potassium and nitrogen, essential for corn growth and development. The corn stalks will literally, support pole beans, while the low lying, leafy squash plants will shade the ground at the base of the corn and beans and help retain moisture to aid in their growth habits. It’s a win-win for all 3 vegetables. I also plant onions, sage and marigolds in and amongst the tomatoes and peppers. The byproducts of those plants help ward off detrimental insects. Again, it’s a space saver, but also has numerous benefits for the plants themselves.
So, what are ya’ll planting or have you started yet?
I so love springtime, especially after the harshness of this past winter.