Friday, May 16, 2014

Sowing More Spinach & My Carrot Saga


I started some “Galilee” spinach seeds two days ago.  My spring sown spinach is still tiny & it looks like I have a ways to go before harvesting.  But if getting this new set of seeds to germinate is anything like the last time, I knew that I had better start now if I wanted to have transplants ready for July.  Spinach in July?  Well, Galilee is supposed to be an extremely heat tolerant spinach from, as its name implies, Israel.  So I figure, why not give it a try as a summer crop & see how it goes.

When I opened the packet of seeds, I was a bit surprised.  They looked very different from “regular” spinach seeds - they were beige & triangular instead of black and round.  I even went online, just in case this was not “real” spinach, like Malabar spinach, which is not actually spinach (i.e. from the Spinacia oleracea family) but is simply a spinach-like plant.  What I found out was that Galilee was, in fact, spinach.

"Galilee" Spinach Seeds

What kind of worried me was that the package stated that germination is slow and erratic.  Now for them to actually write that on the package, I’m thinking that it must be pretty bad – translation “You'll be waiting a REALLY long time for them to germinate & most of them probably won’t germinate at all”.

I decided to try 2 methods when pre-germinating the seeds as my previous attempts with “Monstrueux de Viroflay” spinach were less than stellar.  I first soaked the seeds for 24 hours (as directed on the seed packet).  Then I divided them into two groups (6 seeds each), wrapped each in damp paper towel & placed them into baggies.  For one group, I simply left the baggie in the cold cellar which, at 14°C (57°F) right now, isn’t that cold, but I think that this is an ideal temperature for spinach.  For the second group, I’m trying the hot & cold method, so to speak.  I have read that temperature fluctuations can induce germination, so I decided to place the baggies in the refrigerator at night & then take them out & leave them on the kitchen counter during the day – a similar process to the one that I read about HERE.

Now for the shocker.  This morning, two of the seeds in EACH group had germinated.  That’s only 1 day after their 24 hour soak.  Since the results were so quick, I have a feeling that it had more to do with the soak than the location that I placed them in afterwards.  I will carry on & keep everyone posted on how it works out.  It definitely seems that, just like with sweet & hot peppers, the ease of germination varies among different varieties of spinach.

Out in the garden, I sowed just over half a bed of carrots.  I made seed tapes, an idea that I (along with everyone else!) first got from Granny.

Carrot Seed Tapes
 
I LOVE carrots, which is why the carrot “incident” last year upset me so much.

Two years ago, I grew carrots that were fantastic – but I only grew a couple dozen or so – nowhere near enough.  So last year, I was determined to grow more.  I made seed tapes and all my little seedlings started to come up.  But, just as quickly as they came up, they started to slowly disappear. Initially I thought I was seeing things – “Did I really see a seedling emerge in that spot or was it that other spot further down in the row.”  Then I realized that it wasn’t in my head.  Little by little, all (ALL!) of my seedlings disappeared.  I still am not sure WHO took them – my guess is that it was slugs as we had quite the population of those last year.  But it may just as easily have been earwigs.  I tried a second round of carrots, but no luck there either.  So my garden last year, was carrotless :(

In the fight against slugs, that were also decimating my collards, I tried beer traps.  But the only way they seemed to work was if I picked the slug off the collards and dropped it in the beer – I guess I have smart slugs or bad beer. So I would go out at night, with a flashlight, and pick slugs.  Kind of labour intensive and, although it didn’t completely get rid of them, it did help to reduce the damage they were doing to the collards.  I looked around for Sluggo, which is an environmentally friendly slug control, but no luck – I couldn’t find it anywhere.

So I did a bit more research and I found that diatomaceous earth (the food grade stuff that is apparently fed to livestock to control worms) can also be used in dealing with slugs – and maybe even earwigs.  But before rushing off to the store, I first made sure that it wouldn’t harm worms – according to The Worm Expert, there is no problem there.

So last fall (because I wanted to be “at the ready” when spring came), I got a HUGE honking bag of diatomaceous earth.
 
Diatomaceous Earth
Warning - This picture is screwy because it's upside down
Why?  'Cause this bag was so darn heavy, I couldn't bother turning it over when I opened it
 
It was super cheap - $20 for 20 kg (44 lbs) at the hardware store.  Then I made a shaker using a small coffee can with holes poked into the lid (I used a nail set tool to make the holes).

My Can of (hopefully) "Slug-B-Gone"
 
The lid is very secure but easy to remove so that I can refill the can.  The can itself is large enough so that you don’t have to constantly refill it, but small enough to hold in one hand.  So far, I have sprinkled my collard/lettuce/rapini bed & my pea/spinach bed.  Once the carrot seedlings start poking through the soil, I will immediately remove the row cover & sprinkle the entire bed.
 
Now if only the weather would co-operate – it’s been overcast & raining for the better part of the last 4 days & now it's turned very chilly (4°C/39°F today).  Why am I not surprised....

Till next time...

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things” ~~ Robert Brault

6 comments:

  1. My carrots (and spinach) disappeared shortly after coming up as well. For me it was the birds. I've since solved the problem with screens to cover the beds.
    I hope your problem is as easy to cure. Love the carrots. And I hope to have plenty this year---I've certainly planted enough of them.

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    1. I have issues with birds as well, although, as far as I can tell, they only want the strawberries (which I am netting this year). It actually never occurred to me that they may be the culprits when it came to the carrots. I'll have to keep an eye out.

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  2. Oh wow...those seeds are quite interesting. I would have never guessed that they were spinach seeds. You can just tell they are from some far off distant place. This is part of the excitement of gardening in my opinion. I love that you get to grow plants and vegetables from all over the world.

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    1. So true! The endless varieties that are out there are truly astounding. I suppose that's one of the reasons that I have never heard of a bored gardener :)

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  3. At my last garden the slugs were the worst. I tried everything. Beer traps just didn't work. And I spent a lot of time with a flash light too. Oh how I hate slugs. I do use Sluggo as it seems to work better than anything else. But at least here the slugs aren't quite so bad. Yes I get damage. But at least I can get cucumber to germinate and grow without replanting a million times.

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    1. Aren't they horrible? I had no idea how destructive they could be. I used a lot of straw mulch in the beds last year too, which I think contributed to my problems. This year, most of my beds will be mulch-free.

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