Saturday, March 15, 2014

Start Your Engines

We are not waiting for this interminable Winter to wind down to start the new garden.  Seeds, soil containers and light are in the basement ready to use.  Six varieties of lettuce seeds were placed in soil this morning.  This early start may mean that the plants might remain in the pots indefinitely but they will still produce delicious early fresh salads.

Three favorite seed suppliers have their wares displayed in the photo.  Botanical Interests was our first source for Tavera green beans.  These are by far the best tasting green beans that we have ever eaten so Botanical Interests will receive an order from us every year.  Stokes have proven to be  a source of fairly priced reliable seeds packed in user friendly envelopes.  They always process an order from us.  Johnny's was a favorite seed source in the past.  Since the founder sold his company to the workers, seed prices have increased sharply to a point that I am unwilling to pay.  Flashy Trout Back is a fantastic lettuce that I can find no where else.  My few remaining old seeds were once again planted.  I wonder if I could persuade Botanical Interests to stock it?

The potting trays will hold 18 pots.  We leave one cell empty so that we can water the tray from the bottom and check on water still in the tray.  Each pot will be home to four plants if all of the seeds germinate.  A single seed was dropped in a shallow well near each corner of the pot.  Planting a single seed is no longer a skill taken for granted.  Manual dexterity, sensitivity and eye sight are not what they used to be.  I know that errant seeds were dropped and that no seeds may have been planted in some holes.  We will never know if the missing plants were the result of poor seed or fumble fingers.

Two quarts of water were poured in the empty cell and the plastic cover placed.  Four florescent tubes are on a timer scheduled for 16 hours of light each day.  Now we have seeded ground to watch.

My soil mix will provide some insight into the fussy nature of this gardener.  One measure each of sharp sand, woods dirt, peat moss and Miracle-Gro potting mix were combined with two measures of our own compost to make our seeding mix.  The Miracle-Gro mix contains large pieces of tree bark.  These were screened out.  Thirty gallons of this mixture are in the basement ready to use while everything outside remains cold or frozen.  One year long ago, I used the kitchen oven to sterilize my soil mixture.  The smell of baking worms filled the entire house.  Not surprisingly, we no longer plant in sterilized soil.

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