Friday, 9 March 2012

A New Year Has Begun

Seeds are in and started! Well, at least a few. These are the peppers and eggplants. Every year, there seems to be a little evolution in how we do things. This year, we are pre-sprouting seeds in coffee filters in plastic baggies, kept warm by the fireplace. We did this last year with a few things that were out of sequence, or otherwise odd-balls, and discovered it works really well.

The advantages are that seeds sprout faster and at a higher percentage than when planted in trays or pots directly, and that we won't have trays and pots sitting around taking up space that are supposed to have something germinating in them, but don't. The disadvantage is, well, more stuff to "support the economy". At least the coffee filters are unbleached and can go into the compost. We started with paper towel, actually, but the coffee filters are better, being pre-cut and easier to work with. Place seeds in one quadrant, fold in quarters, dip in bowl of water, place in labelled baggie; done. Watch daily and remove and plant sprouting seeds. Seeds  have to be big enough to work with, obviously.

Here's what's been potted up so far. Asparagus, leftover onions, and Golden Berry and Giant Poha, both selections of physalis peruviana.

We bought the Giant Poha seeds, and got the Golden Berry in a packet of Golden Berries purchased at 10,000 Villages. Ate the Golden Berries, picked our teeth and, voila. Sorry if that's TMI but really, they have germinated amazingly well for a snack food. They will probably have to be grown in pots and kept in the basement over the winter as they are tropical, and slow to produce. They are related to Ground Cherries, which can be grown here much more easily (but here's the rub: I don't like them. They don't taste the same.)


Onions, looking feeble. We switched to the coffee filter method three-quarters of the way through the onions, and this is kind of why. There were a lot of onion seeds from last year, and they germinated about as well as year-old onion seeds generally germinate, which is somewhere between poorly and not at all. They have been replanted with new seed, but it's not up yet.

There's even a little action outside. This weeks' thaw and rain encouraged us to uncover our hoop-houses, where things were looking pretty dry. Spinach is looking lovely! We should get a bumper crop by the looks of it.

In the next bed you can see the rutabagas that were too small to pick last fall. They seem to have survived nicely, unlike the radishes which are still visible but plainly only sacks of mush now. Have to decide whether to grub them up, or let them go to seed. (Assuming they are still alive in another month; we are now entering the time of year when plants actually die of winter - it's the freeze/thaw that gets them, more than any actual cold usually.)

Since we're getting a cold day today, Mr. Ferdzy just straightened  up a few supports - which worked really well, by the way - and we covered things up again.

Won't be covered for long though! Next week should be mild and within 2 days I expect the covers to be off again, possibly for good! (*knocks wood*) Compare all this to last year. I note we have not started any spinach (well really, don't need to) or chard or lettuce. I think it's safe to say that even if we have an early spring, it is too early for them yet. Last years lettuce didn't amount to anything much, and the large chard transplants didn't actually produce chard any earlier than later transplants. So, even though we are itching to get going, good sense will prevail.


Ottawa Gardener said...

Your garden is farther along than mine! I've heard that south of us the winter has been very open. I pre-sprout too especially peppers and eggplants. It really does help.

Ferdzy said...

Our ground is still quite frozen. It's just that that spinach was started in August.

I'm not that much farther south, more straight along. But next to a large body of water which definitely makes a difference. It has been a very mild, snowless winter. We probably got half of the winters snow in the last 2 weeks. Nobody here is actually completely thrilled as we tend to get very dry summers.

CallieK said...

I love the pre-sprouting idea! Last year I had the worst germination year ever so I'm game to try anything that improves the odds.

Ferdzy said...

CallieK, good luck! Let me know how they work out for you.

spencer said...

I had bad luck last year with pepper germanation, so this year i planted 3x more than i need to make sure i get enough.
Now wishing i had read this before i planted, but i will definatly have to try it if i get more poor germanation.

Ferdzy said...

Spencer, that's gardening! Every year you learn something new, and usually right *after* you would like to know it.

Just keep them as warm as you can. Peppers do love lots of heat as they germinate. Until you actually cook them I don't think it's too much.