Playing in the dirt.

Archive for the ‘Starts’ Category

Zoom! Like a Rocket

Okay, yes, it’s a terrible pun.  Of the seeds I planted a week ago, the arugula was the first to sprout, with several little green faces showing up by yesterday morning.  It got close to freezing last night, but never quite got there, which is good, because I did not cover the bed.  I wasn’t feeling particularly well yesterday, and decided that if it was only going to take a week to sprout, I’d just replant them if they got nipped.  It did rain off and on all night, so I did not have to haul water this morning, so I won’t know how it went last night until I get off work this afternoon.

The cucurbits were planted indoors on Friday, and this morning brought two moldy zucchini peats, two moldy watermelon peats, three cantaloupe sprouts, and the suggestion of sprouts in all the other peats.  I’m planning to plant one squash bed in seedlings and one in seeds for each of the cucurbits, then compare the results between the two at the end of the season, to see if I need to bother with starting them early in future years.  Cucurbits don’t like to have their roots disturbed, so tend to make poor transplants, but our growing season is so short, and our nights so cool, that careful transplanting might be the only way to get fruit for most varieties.

It’ll be an experiment!

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Signs of Spring…Maybe

First up, some recent photos of the seedlings, which are growing sturdier by the day:

Arugula sprouts in a light green planter box.

Arugula in the indoor salad planter.

Chile peppers, leggy kale, and a tomato seedling in peat starters.

Chile peppers, leggy kale, and a tomato seedling.

Two tomato seedlings and a pepper seedling in large yogurt tubs.

Tomato, tomato, pepper, potted up to keep growing strong.

I also found some signs of spring out in the yard over the last couple of very nice days:

Tulip leaves about four inches high.

Tulip greening up.

Unknown groundcover wildflower with tiny white flowers.

Small groundcover wildflower; name unknown, flowers the size of a pencil eraser.

Small groundcover wildflower with closed pink flowers.

Small groundcover wildflower with closed pink blooms. When open, the petals of the quarter-sized daisy-style flowers are white and the centers are bright yellow.

Now? It’s snowing.

If anyone has any ideas as to the identity of either of the two wildflowers, please feel free to hazard a guess in the comments!

UPDATE: The white flowers appear to be Spiny phlox (Phlox hoodii) or another native relative.  My research this evening has also identified Scarlet Globemallow (Sphaeralcea coccinea, native) and Yellow Salsify (Tragopogon dubius, introduced, can be invasive) that I photographed last summer.  I hope it doesn’t take a whole year to ID these little blossoms!

Making Haste Slowly

Very little in the way of new news to share, though there is one sprout in my salad planters as of Saturday’s quick trip to the office to check on seedlings, and there’s evidence that an eggplant is going to sprout.  Friday, I planted some more tomatoes and eggplants, in case something catastrophic happens to the first batch, and I planted kale.  This coming Friday, I’ll get the shallots started (from seed, so apparently not “true” shallots, which Teh Internetz suggests only propagate by bulb division).  The sprouts that came up this week are doing well.

Assorted sprouts in starter peats.

Assorted sprouts.

The Anaheims and onions are still visible in the far container, along with the lemon mint, with the Genovese basil and the so far lone Pasilla in the back corners.  But another Pasilla was suggesting it might sprout soon when I checked on things Saturday.  In the near container, from left to right are: Mexico Midget, Italian Heirloom, Opalka, and Beam’s Yellow Pear, along with the lime basil.

And because we’re gardening at 7200 feet, it was cold and snowy and windy all weekend, so I’ve not yet managed to get anything accomplished outside.

Tomato and Herbs

Just a quick post today, to show off the most recent arrivals.  Today brought a Mexico midget tomato sprout, and yesterday brought the herb sprouts (rows from top to bottom: Genovese basil, lemon mint, lime basil).  The herbs doubled in size over the course of my workday today.  Two herb peats have no-shows, and I’ll replant those Friday if they haven’t arrived by then.

Genovese basil, lemon mint, and lime basil sprouts in starter peats.

Herbs, herbs, herbs.

Mexico midget is an indeterminate cherry variety.  “Indeterminate” means that it’s a vine type that grows continuously and produces fruit over the course of a season, as opposed to the “determinate” bush varieties that grow to a pre-determined size and set their fruit all at once.  Indeterminates are good for fresh eating all summer and need trellised to support their long vines, while determinates are good for canning and freezing, because the whole crop is usually ready at one time, making for more efficient processing.

A Mexico midget tomato sprout in a starter peat.

Mexico midget tomato sprout.

Peppers and Onions

Peppers have sprouted!  Three little Anaheims greeted me this morning, pushing their tiny cotyledons against the damp plastic lid of the starter tray as if to say, “Let us out!”  So I did.

Anaheim pepper seedling

I’m a pepper! Wouldn’t you like to be a pepper, too?

The lone surviving Pasilla Bajio from the first planting is starting to peek out a bit, and might stand up by tomorrow.  Four replacement onions are also starting to sprout, little green-white loops not yet strong enough to lift the seed casing.

Three more onions collapsed past the point of recovery when the tray dried out too much over the weekend–hazards of starting things at work.  I pulled them and re-started them, but those will likely be the last that I re-start.  I’ve got a lot of other things to start and supplies to shop for and new beds to build!

Anaheim pepper and Yellow of Parma onion seedlings.

Peppers and Onions

Next Up!

Fortunately, I don’t expect perfection in my garden, because unfortunately, three of my eight Anaheim starter peats and a whopping seven of my eight Pasilla Bajio starter peats went moldy and had to be discarded.  In better news, two of the Anaheims are starting to poke up, though I hesitate to call them sprouts until I see some cotyledons.

(Weirdly, last year’s efforts included cucumbers, one of which sprouted cotyledons, which hung about for quite a long time just barely above the soil.  When I decided they were never going to become a cucumber plant and pulled them up, there was no evidence of there ever having been roots of any kind!)

Today, in addition to planting four more Pasillas, I started four kinds of tomato, eggplant, two kinds of basil, and some lemon mint.

I succumbed to “just one more” and bought two packets of marigold seeds (Brocade Mix and Petite Mix) and a packet of Yellow Canary Creeper nasturtium from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, who kindly sent me another free packet of Red Romaine lettuce.  I’ll be finding someone to give that to, since they already sent me one with my first order of the season.

The only other news for now is that none of the indoor salad has sprouted yet, which is not terribly surprising considering that I did not cover the planters to help warm things up, and I’ve marked out my new beds for the year with little stone cairns, so I can start clearing ground, now that we’re having some occasional warm days.  Hopefully my next post will include a picture of some tiny pepper sprouts!

Patience, Shmatience

One of the trials of gardening at 7200 feet is the short growing season.  We’ve had a couple of shirt-sleeves days, but our last frost date isn’t until June sometime.  I, however, have had entirely enough store-bought produce.  So along with starting my Anaheim and Pasilla Bajio pepper seeds today, I filled a couple of long planters with mushroom compost left over from last year and planted some assorted lettuces and lettuce-like things, and some chives.

Three Jiffy starter boxes and two long, pale green planters filled with mushroom compost join some empty water bottles on a table.

The bottles are to cut down for small pots to put the onions in when they need more space than their tiny   starter peats.

I planted iceberg, red romaine, Lollo Rossa, Bunte Forellenschluss, arugula, spinach, mizuna, lovage, and chives.  The peppers are in the covered Jiffy starter box.  I started the peppers on a Friday, so there would be two days before I see them again, which will hopefully make it feel like less time until the excitement of sprouts.

The onion sprouts are just visible in the front starter box on the left side.  They have had a small haircut to keep them from falling over, so I’ve already had my first harvest this season–I put the trimmings on my tuna sandwich for lunch that day!  I am hoping they didn’t get so tall due to insufficient light…the table is directly under a skylight, but the angle of the sun puts the most direct light about two feet on the other side of that cubical wall to the right for now.  (By midsummer, it will be shining directly onto that table, and I will be considering wearing my sunglasses at my desk.)  I guess I’ll have my answer when I see if my pepper plants get all leggy on me or not.