Monday, January 31, 2011

Planting Flowers

I really like using soil blockers to get seeds started. No need to put on outdoor clothing and I don't have to worry about my seeds taking a ride on the wind into Arkansas or Illinois. The kitchen table is my preferred place for planting. I can sit down and be comfortable as I plant my garden. In a later chapter of this story when seeds have become baby plants, they will be transported and transplanted in their permanent home in the garden or greenhouse.

To start the process, I pour the packet of seeds into the saucer. The pencil is moistened in the bowl of water and then dipped into the seeds carefully to only pick up one. Touch the tip of the pencil to the moistened soil blocker and the tiny seed sticks to the mini - seedbed. One seed planted.

I'm planting lavender (Lavendula augustifolia) in this photo. I don't think I could have too many lavender plants. I just love Lavender. Even though it is slow to germinate (14 - 28 days) and it may (or may not) flower the first year, the good part is that it's a perennial in our zone. Once it's established it will grace your yard and garden for many years. A little mulch blanket for winter and it will produce that lovely scent and flowers each summer and fall. Cutting the flowers as they are produced will encourage more flowers.

What to plant next? I'm thinking salad.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Garden Peas

We're continuing to busily plant and work on the greenhouse garden. Seeds to transplant to the outdoor garden will be next. We had a small set back with our first batch. Our soil mix was not so good. The seedlings were coming up very poorly. I bought a professional (organic) seeding mix to make the mini blocks from and the seeds have been germinating within days of planting.

We're experimenting with the greenhouse (meaning - we're learning as we go). I'd like to try a little of everything in there. The plastic cover of the greenhouse is like moving 500 miles south. So we used the dates for planting 500 miles south from the USDA Zone maps calculating with an Excel spreadsheet. The first thing we've transplanted to the greenhouse are peas. Garden peas are hardy annuals which can be seeded in the garden 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost. Today I plan to transplant onions and radishes.

It's a nice sunny day here which makes it feel like Spring is on the way, but the weather forecast says we'll be back into the 20's next week. The peas will be glad to have that greenhouse cover and a blanket for keeping warm.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Soil Block Planting

I have 420 seeds planted (Jan 9 & 10). Using the soil blocker method, it takes a small amount of space at the seeding stage. We've transformed our basement into a garden plot for the time being. Using a heated mat set at 70 degrees ( spinach, lettuce, peas, pansy, bok choy, arugula, cabbage, Sweet William and onion), spinach has started to germinate at 3 days.

Experience tells me, I must keep good records so I thought I'd put info here as well as in several other places. The specific varieties and planting dates are written in my garden diary in a Word document on my computer and also in a table / chart.

I hope to plant several hundred more onions today, which will go in the garden around March 20. Plotting out planting and harvesting dates seem to make the year go by quickly.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Getting Ready to Plant

We're new to greenhouse planting and just found out from Eliot Coleman's book that you can use the planting dates for two zones south. A quick calculation in the spreadsheet says that we can start planting several vegetables - Celery, spinach, peas, beets, kale, cabbage and salad greens. So now, we're scrambling to get the seeds started in the soil blockers which will then be set out in the greenhouse. This is also the date to plant onions (seed) for spring planting in the garden. We're hoping to sell at Farmer's Markets or here at our farm stand this summer. How many to plant - that is the question. I'll start with a couple hundred onions and will plant more next week. This is so exciting - I can't wait to see everything green and growing.