Thursday, February 10, 2011


I tend to plant a little behind Amy. This year is no different. But with the sun shining and temperatures warming this weekend, I figured I better not wait too long! I gathered up my supplies and made a mess of the basement as I usually do. The cats of course tried to help, which meant that the stems of herbs, which I had trimmed back so I could fit my starting trays in the greenhouse box, were strewn about and there were wet paw print across the floor from a kitty splashing in the watering can and checking out the fish emulsion that I was feeding my house plants with. Sometimes I'm glad that they are indoor cats and can't "help" when it is time to garden outside!
This year before I browsed the seed catalogs, I did an inventory of my seed box; 4 kinds of peppers, 5 kinds of tomatoes, 3 packets of lettuce, 2 packets of chard and various herbs and flowers greeted me. Owing to the small size of my garden, I seldom use even an entire "sampler" packet (despite my habit of planting well more seeds than I have space for). Since most seeds kept dry and dark will last 2 or 3 years, I figure this year will be a clean out year. Despite my resolve to not add to my store, when I went to pick up a few bags of seed starting mix, I still came home with 4 packets of seeds. In my defense, one packet was Forget-me-nots for my soon to exist vertical shade garden which I plan to create outside my kitchen windows. Up until that purchase, the only ideas I had for the space was impatiens, coleuses and the top tiers being lettuce and other greens that fry in the heat of the main garden. The others were: Columbine, to create a perennial bed with the columbine that I purchased as a plant last year, the peony that is an offshoot of one from Amy's mom's garden, the butterfly bush and my apple tree. Catnip, for my ever helpful felines, and Arugula, one of my favorite greens that had been lacking in my mescalune mixes.

I decided to try peat pots this year, and so filled up 9- 3" pots with starting mix, soaked them well, and... planted 3 seeds in each pot.... so much for not planting more seeds than I need! That works out to 27 plants. Figuring that 20 of them sprout into healthy plants, I will transplant out a seedling from each pot, leave one where it is, and donate one to the benefit of the compost pile- which in all likelihood means that I will actually put even the gimpiest plants into their own little pots, then search desperately for homes for all of them. Hopefully Risa and Vicci will be gardening again this season and have space for a few in their gardens!

Partly due to my habit of starting too many seeds comes my habit of crowding plants. Especially in the confined spaces of 5-gallon buckets and a limited area under cover of bird netting in my prime sunlight location of the roof, I decided that this is the year that I am going to resist the urge to overcrowd, and hopefully as a result get stronger plants and bigger yields. One of these days I am going to have enough peppers to pickle a peck (which is 1/4 of a bushel, or 2 gallons of dry weight, yes, I had to look that up) or two and enough tomatoes to make a pot of Sunday gravy (Marinara) with all homegrown tomatoes, basil and oregano. If I am really good, I may even be able to provide a few small onions to complete the recipe. I will have to ask Amy for some garlic tips, as that is one plant I haven't figured out yet!

I should be starting my tomatoes soon. The laundry room (the original back porch that is now fully enclosed, mostly insulated, and has 3 windows with 2 big window sills, partly for the cats to enjoy and partly so I can use it as a winter garden) is being warmed more each day by the sun and nearly ready to accept the pepper, herbs and New Guinea Impatiens that I have been over wintering in my greenhouse box. Flats of lettuce, chard and flowers were all started, and I eagerly await the first tiny green sprouts to emerge, and the day that the garden has warmed up enough and dried out enough for me to get planting.

Ah... spring.

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