05 May 2009

Attack of the Baby Plants

So, let's see.... about a fortnight ago I was telling you all that I'd had a total failure in the greenhouse despite using super-duper, extra-good-karma, local, organic potting soil and reusing the plastic starting pots Mrs. Stratton had left for us. I even remembered to wash and bleach and rinse and thoroughly dry the darned things! A whole afternoon wasted just on that operation!

On April 24th I went in and dumped every last potlet into the biggest plastic trug I've ever seen. (Think half whiskey barrel only made out of blue plastic.) I rinsed out the little pans and started over with that old standby, the 3 ounce Dixie cup and some Jiffy Mix for seeds. After listening to watering advice on The Beechgrove Potting Shed I decided to do what the nice Head Gardener (of Edinburgh Botanic Gardens) said and water from the bottom.

yeah.... you know what I'm about to tell you....

Now I'm over run with seedlings and I'm thinking of investing in styrofoam cup manufacturing. That was a tip from one of our farmer neighbors. Pot up into styro cups. Expecting a 50% germination rate, at best, I sowed seeds kinda thickly to make up for my poor seed starting skills. As I'm unable to pinch off those cute little seedlings I now have in the wee greenhouse:

1 hubbard squash
9 eggplants (Ping Tung)
11 summer squash (Yellow Scallop & Tender Gray Zukes)

15 pumpkins (Mayo Blusher, Acoma & Seminole)

23 basil babies

28 muskmelons (Kansas & Golden Jenny)

29 sweet onions

54 iceburg lettuces

55 cucumbers (Edmondson & Arkansas Little Leaf)

76 tomatoes (Long keeper, Amish Paste & al-Kuffa)

untold numbers of leeks

There are also a whole bunch of native tobacco plants popping up and the chiles started breaking through with abandon the other day. Our sweet peppers aren't so excited, nor the other eggplants, but maybe they're waiting for more warmth as it's been rather cool these last few days.

Our Ping Tung eggplants and the Hubbard squash (UK translations: aubergine and edible gourd) were part of February's Winter Sowing experiment. They've done OK but I'm not seeing that they are any further along than had I planted them two weeks ago. Might be the potting soil... The ping tungs are still just two seedling leaves despite being up at least three weeks. Madame Hubbard sat the same way for weeks and weeks until I plucked her from her starter pot and put her into new soil in the greenhouse. Now she has four leaves and looks pretty happy.

One wonderful surprise was the al-Kuffa tomato bought from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. They popped up three days before the other varieties! According to the catalog these were sent to them from a customer in Iraq who hoped that the variety could be saved. Apparently we're distributing "improved" seeds over there at such a furious pace that the local varieties have been essentially abandoned in just a few years. This is supposed to be an early bush tomato that likes cooler weather. I'll let you know how they do!


Lausanne said...

Glad to hear your germination is going well after all. I spent the afternoon potting up endive, radicchio, brocolli, cabbage, basil,and more out of starter trays. Ordinarily I would be setting the little brassica starts directly into the garden by now, but my broken wrist has delayed my planting schedule somewhat. This week I planted a long triple row in the garden of red onions and 2 varieties of leeks (from seed that I started before I broke my wrist), so some planting is still on schedule. Also baby carrots , and 20 little short rows of everything from mache and pink lettucy mustard to claytonia and Hopi Red Dye Amaranth...this raised bed is basicaongoing salad bar throughout the summer.
We've been enjoying a bonanza of salad greens from our overwintered varieties in the greenhouse since April 1st... Now after over 5 weeks of high yields, "Space" spinach it is finally beginning to go to seed. Wow--outdoors I rarely get more than 2-3 weeks of spinach before it bolts!
Good luck with finding homes for your excess of tomato plants!

Mrs. Fuzzy said...

Sorry to hear about the broken wrist, Lausanne. I do hope it gets better quickly! It seems we're on about the same planting schedule. Everyone says not to put things out until end of the month.

I'm not sure if I'm calling those tomatoes excessive yet. Apparently there is no such thing as "too many tomatoes and squash to give away" around here. I'm thinking I may well grow the whole lot and just can like mad! The cucumbers, on the other hand....

Tell me more about overwintering in the greenhouse!

Lausanne said...

There's a wonderful book by Eliot Coleman called The Four Season Harvest that is full of information on the topic of winter gardening...I learned more from that source than any other. Also, Fedco Seeds from Maine has a full selection of winter hardy greens, which they are continually evaluating and adding to...my favorite source of seeds so far. Down in the mountains of southern Virginia I expect you could be eating fresh greens through the winter with a little careful planning. Here my greenhouse produces until about Christmas, then goes dormant until late March...The trick to wintering over is to create a miniclimate within the greenhouse by using cold frames INside the greenhouse. The book explains it all. I take my cold frames off sometime in March and we're up to our chins in salad by early April. Check it out!