March 22/2014 Garden Update

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It was feeling a lot like Spring around here. Gophers have started to wake up and are chirping away out in the fields. The Geese are making their pit stops here, en masse. The snowbank/drift in our back yard from the storms at the beginning of December was down to about 3 feet tall at its highest point… We could see our patio again. And at work… MUD… So much mud! Then the first day of Spring happened and Mother Nature decided we were getting too used to this “Spring” thing, and hammered us with a winter storm again. Lucky for me, I have Spring in my windowsill. Everything is doing amazing. Now if Mother Nature would co-operate, I can start putting the plants for the Greenhouse garden out there. (We are hopefully getting our soil preparations done later next week over there)

But, without anymore chatter, Here is the updates on my little seedlings. (Tomorrow I’ll cover the Herbs and flowers, just like last week)

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TOMATOES

I may have developed an inability to control myself around seeds. I bought more. But only because I saw the Yellow Pear ones that looked so amazing on the many gardening blogs I read, and I just really wanted them. Right next to them in the display were some Marglobe ones that are an Heirloom determinate variety that I think would be great for my mom. Right next to those were some “Green Envy” cherry tomatoes, and I said to myself “why not”. There may have also been an heirloom pepper in there too, but we’ll cover that in the Pepper section. Then I may have allowed myself to trade some Heirloom seeds… “Boxcar Willie”, “Golden Cherry” and “Black Russian” should be here any day now.  I can stop anytime, I swear (she said unconvincingly).

It took 5 days for the Yellow Pear and Marglobe to start sprouting. Pretty excited for both of these. Green Envy should be up by Monday. 5 days seems to be the general length of time it takes for my tomatoes to sprout.

The Cherry Tomatoes (Hybrid Mix of yellow, orange and red) took a little longer to sprout than I expected (more than 7 days), but once they broke through the soil, they took off! They are very leggy, but I can just plant them deeper when they get potted up.

The Pink and Red Brandywine’s I sowed last weekend, Sprouted on March 20. The Pink ones were a day earlier. Black Krim and Bonny Best are also sprouted. The Black Krim had some spotty germination, but I have 4 solid little seedlings out of the 6 that I sowed.

The Rainbow blend and Roma’s that I had potted up last week, are doing AMAZING. I am experimenting a little with using 1L containers that the coffee cream comes in, so my seedlings can have a very developed deep root system, but I’ll tell you more about that later in its very own post. Also… the Rainbow blend may not be just Brandywine tomatoes… Some have standard leaves and not potato leaves. Weird.

Needless to say I am very-much looking forward to my tomatoes this year!

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Tomato seedlings

PEPPERS

My Cayenne Peppers are doing amazing. They all look like little pepper plants now. I should have a great crop of peppers from them if I do everything right, since I have about 10 plants… AFTER thinning and downsizing to only the healthiest ones.

My Jalapenos are a little slower than the Cayenne, but still great. They were started a little after the Cayenne’s so they have that excuse. I have 4 still in the peat pellet starters and I will be potting them up this weekend.

And since I have minimal self control around a seed display, I have some heirloom Hungarian Wax hot peppers. I started 2x 3″ pots of these on March 20th. Since its been a little colder around the window because of the snow, I wont be too surprised if these take a little longer to germinate.

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Cayenne Peppers in 4″ pots

LEEKS

Amazing as ever! I may need to think about thinning them again soon… REALLY need to not sow the entire package of seeds next year.

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Leeks – almost need thinning again

STRAWBERRIES

Super slow. Not much new to report from last week. The few that have true leaves are getting stronger though. I will be sowing more of these in the Fall, so that they are stronger healthy plants by the time Spring comes around.

EGGPLANT

Did I tell you I found some Italian Eggplant? “Violetta Lunga di Napoli” is sprouting!

My Asian Eggplant “Ping Tung Long” has sprouted and is slowly moving along. I’m down to 4 of those rather than 6. Two of them couldn’t break out of their seed shell and were not looking good, so I put them out of their misery.

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“Violetta Lunga di Napoli” Eggplant sprouting

GROUND CHERRIES

These are working on their true leaves. I am looking forward to them. They are definitely not something you can find in the grocery store around here.

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Cayenne on Left x3
Ground Cherries on Right x6

SWEET POTATO

The sweet potato experiment from last year, is getting a do-over this year. I have a sprouting potato on my fridge, so I should get some good slips from it. The question will be whether I can keep them warm and happy enough to produce some potatoes.

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Sweet Potato producing slips

POTATOES

I waited too long to order my Pink Fir Apples. We went to place the order and they were sold out… So sad. Next year I won’t wait so long. Now the potato plan will probably just be regular varieties you can buy at the garden center. My Pink Fir Apple dreams will have to wait until next year I guess. I will console myself with more tomato plants.

ICEBERG LETTUCE

I had an old packet of Iceberg lettuce, and I thought I would challenge myself to try and get an actual head of lettuce from it. We’ll see how it goes. At the very least, I will end up with something green to eat. They have all sprouted. Soon, I’ll try and pinch out a few to grow on and hope for heads. The others I’ll just have as salad leaves.

Check back here tomorrow for the update on all my Herbs and Flowers.

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Left – “Ping Tung Long” Eggplant
Right – Jalapeno Peppers

 

 

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Garden Terms : heirloom, hybrid, heritage, open pollinated – what does it mean?

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My 2012 Roma Tomatoes

While looking through seed catalogues, you will be confronted with a plethora of terms. You should probably understand what they all mean, and what will work best for you and your garden. I am no expert, and there is a wealth of knowledge out there. Do some searches, find what other gardeners have said about different varieties you are interested in, and if you can’t decide, stick it in the ground and see if it grows.

Heirloom – Simply put, this means, that the seeds will produce a plant exactly like itself, and it’s parents, and its grandparents. They are open-pollinated (more about that below). Typically, heirlooms need to be older than 50 years, although, some places say 100 years. Whatever the magic number, they typically need to come from before we really started messing with the earth to get it to produce more and more from less and less space. (Pre-WW2). These are the same type of varieties that your great grandparents probably grew.

Heritage – This term means different things in different places. Some say that it is just an Heirloom, while others say that it needs to have “cultural or ethnic importance.”

Hybrid – Simply put, this is a cross between two plants that can cross pollinate. Although, typically, it is done by humans breeding plants based on the characteristics they possess. Think tomatoes and corn – they are the most often “hybridized.” If you look at a few seed packets, they are almost always bred to possess certain characteristics. However, hybrid does NOT mean that is has been genetically modified, and hybrid seeds and plants can be certified organic. But if you are growing a hybrid variety in the hopes of saving the seeds from it, and expecting to get the same plant in the next planting, you will likely be disappointed – the seeds saved from hybrid varieties will likely resemble one of the original parents, or be sterile. There are a few cases where hybrid varieties stabilized and can produce true to type, OP plants.

Open-Pollinated – Often stated as “OP” this means that the seeds produced will produce a plant exactly like the parent plant. This is why heirloom plants are open pollinated. As long as OP plants that can cross with others are kept separate (for example, Beets and Swiss Chard) they will produce seeds that are “true to type”.  If not kept separate, then they may cross, and if the seeds are viable (and not sterile), then you end up with a hybrid.

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2013 Onion – sending up a seed head.

For a little more in-depth information, check out this article.