Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Seeds and Progress Reports

I placed several seed orders yesterday. The first order was through Baker's Creek Heirloom Seeds which was mainly my tomato order (thanks for the holiday present parents!). The second order was through Prairie Moon Nursery- a native seed & plant company (thanks for the birthday present hubby!). I'm hoping to expand my native plant population and I have some newer beds that need some part-shade plants. Since most native seeds need to go through stratification (a 30+ day cold/moist period) in order to break dormancy I need to get those in the fridge as soon as possible, since it doesn't look like I can rely on these "winter" conditions to take care of this process. And lastly, I made a plant and seed order through Select Seeds, which focuses on heirloom flowering plants. I will post my seed lists as they arrive. So, what to do with all of these seeds? I thought I'd share how I organize them. I've done many things, but this method just seems to work for me.
Chuy demonstrating my madness.
As you can see I have lots of seeds already. They are organized into 3 boxes: box 1 labeled Spring Seeds. Box 1 includes seeds to be planted in fall as well or seeds that need to be stratified or perennials that need to be started early and of course the usual spring/fall crops- peas, kale, spinach, lettuces, onions, etc.
Box 2 is Flowers and Herbs. Within this box I have dividers made of cardboard or index cards that separates annuals, perennials, vining flowers and herbs.  Box 3 is Summer Veggies with seeds categorized by likeness- all varieties of beans together for example. 
These boxes work well for seed packets, but each year I collect more and more of my own seeds in various containers so the boxes get a little less organized each year. 

Starting Seeds
I've begun starting seeds for the season. I'm trying something new this year. While I've always purchased a soilless mix to start in I've decided to try and start my garden seeds in free compost this year. My chickens make amazing compost. The only initial downside I've observed so far is that there are some seeds germinating that are of unknown origin. So- I will be getting some surprises in with what the labels indicate. 
tofu tubs make good starter containers

Started: leeks, parsley, wild ageratum, wild hydrangea, tronchuda cabbage, perpetual spinach, dinosaur kale, Skippy violas, White Hollhocks.
Chilling under the windowwell cold-frame: McKana Giant Columbines, Swamp & Butterfly Milkweed and Reugen & Soul (white) Alpine Strawberries. 

Seed Thievery 
There's an old house along the main street in town with wonderful hollyhocks. One holly crossed the road and planted itself in the rocks at the ice cream parlor. I admired the tall white holly all summer. When the store was nearing closure for the winter we went in for an ice cream and I stole seeds from that plant- gently wrapping them up in my napkin and forgetting about them in my car. A couple of weeks ago I rescued them from my car, soaked them overnight and plopped them in some compost and here we go. It will be interesting to see if they all bloom white or if they were able to cross-pollinate with the hollys across the street.
Hollyhock babies.

Progress Reports
#1: Window Farm. While it was fun I'm not overly impressed with the garden tower in the kitchen. This project was my version of the hydroponically-based "window farms" you can find directions for online. They are in an east window but are still generally lanky and not very productive. You just can't beat growing things outside. Imagine that? 
Top tier: spinach seedlings. Middle: parsley. Bottom: spinach transplants.

#2: Overwintering Marine Heliotrope- very successful and it has bloomed twice and smells amazing! This one is in the southern window of my kitchen.

#3: Plectranthus cuttings & cabbage experiment: The plectranthus cuttings have been in the same container, with water top-offs, dead leaf pruning and flower pinching all winter long and are doing wonderfully. These are also in my south kitchen window. I'd never buy these again. They are WAY too easy to keep- whether as a plant in a container with minimal light & water or as cuttings. 
I noticed my cabbage had baby roots on it about a week ago so I stuck it in some water- the roots are growing, the leaves are growing back and there are new buds sprouting too. Just for fun. 

#4: Growing cilantro from seed indoors in winter: thin and lanky- not expecting much to come of this

That is it for today. The office kitty (Tabatha) says it's time to say good bye. 

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