Thursday, June 26, 2014

Thinking Ahead To Fall

It’s the last week of school and things are busier than usual.  Summer vacation starts next week and we are all looking forward to the slower pace that usually comes with it.

I am currently hardening off some lettuce seedlings in the hopes that the lettuce harvest will continue over the summer.  I decided to narrow the varieties down to the three that I think will be the most tolerant of the hotter weather:  Simpson Elite, Pinares & Sierra MI.  The spring sown leaf lettuce has all been pulled but the Pinares & Sierra MI are still chugging along – I will hold off on pulling these (or some of them anyhow), just to see how long they last.


Lettuce - Hardening Off For Planting Next Week
 
A couple of posts on Stoney Acres and Our Happy Acres got me thinking about starting some crops for the fall.  The few times I tried growing crops for fall harvest, I was less than successful, probably because I would wait too long to start them.  I’m still trying to figure out the timing on my plantings, specifically when beds that are currently occupied will be freed up for the next crop.  There will likely be a lot of trial and error on this front over the next couple of years.

There is one bed, however, where no guessing is required and that is the garlic bed. This bed will be free by the end of July.  So that gives me just over 60 days until our first frost date in early October plus an extra 30 days to get transplants to a good size.

When I ordered my seeds back in January, I didn’t really think about fall crops.  So this week, I went to a local hardware store & browsed the skimpy offerings remaining on their seed stand.

I figured that this would be the perfect time to try a few vegetables that had not made it into my spring planting.  So I purchased seeds for curly kale, broccoli & kohlrabi.  I made sure that the days to maturity on the packets were around 60 days or less.  As mentioned in the Stoney Acres post, I should add an extra 10 days to the dates on the packet as plants tend to grow a bit more slowly in cool fall temperatures.  Unfortunately, I had very little choice in terms of variety.

So this is what I ended up with:

Hardware Store Seed Purchase
 
The specific varieties are:  Dwarf Green Curled Kale, Munchkin Broccoli, Early White Vienna Kohlrabi.  I love kale & broccoli, but have never tried kohlrabi.  When I saw the seed packet, however, I couldn’t resist.  Since I like every other member of the cabbage family (those that I have tried, anyhow), I’m optimistic that I will enjoy this as well.

And one last thing before I sign off.  Look what was waiting for me on the porch the other day:


New Seed Trays
 
You’re probably thinking “So what?  You purchased seed trays – no biggie”.  Well, it is a big deal because these are Quadruple Thick seed trays.

I had purchased a few “regular” trays (read:  flimsy) in the spring and they were already cracking on the top edges after only a month or two of use.  Yes, they were only $1.45 each but every time I pick them up I have to be super careful, especially when they are loaded up with transplants.  I just can’t see them lasting very long.  I would much rather pay more & have a nice sturdy tray that will not bend, crack or leak.  Not only would it last longer, but it would also be much less frustrating to use.

So I started a hunt for better trays.  Unfortunately, we do not have the same variety of products that folks in the United States have.  Often, you either have to pay an exorbitant amount of money (shipping on some of this stuff is MORE than the cost of the item!!), make a trip across the border, or simply do without.

Luckily, I found the trays I was looking for on Amazon.ca (btw I am not affiliated with Amazon in any way, so this is simply an fyi link).  They were $30 for 5 trays (with free shipping – yeah!).  In the United States they are quite a bit cheaper - $14.95 - but you have to pay for shipping.  I’m sure there are probably many other suppliers in the US that carry them as well.

$6 for a tray is a lot more than $1.45.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I have to say these are absolutely AWESOME!  The difference between these and standard trays is dramatic.  They do not flex at all when they are loaded up with transplants.  The plastic is very sturdy – the closest thing I can compare it to is the thick, smooth plastic pots large shrubs and trees come in (not the thinner corrugated type pots).   I am using one of the trays for my lettuce transplants and I love it…these will definitely last for years and years.  The manufacturers motto is that it’s “the last plant tray you will ever buy” – and I believe it!

Till next time…

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

9 comments:

  1. Always good to find a better quality, and hooray for Amazon. I love that company.
    I chucked all my old plastic trays after having one "twist" and all the seedlings went flying out everywhere.
    I find old rimmed cookie sheets or those deep metal bake pans at garage sales on occasion and pick them up for seed trays. Not matched or anything, but no more twisting. Great for bigger pots of perennial starts, etc.

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    1. Ugh - I sympathize with the flying seedlings - every time I carried one of those trays that thought went through my mind. The cookie sheets & baking pans are such a great idea! I used an old cat litter tray for my tomato seedlings as they were quite big and there was no way I was putting them in one of the flimsy trays.

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  2. And great idea about the cat box tray. Deep enough to keep those plants upright AND well watered. Thanks!

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  3. I'm envious of your seed trays. I'll have to check them out at Amazon. Mine are always so flimsy.

    Good luck with your lettuce. I've never been able to grow them during the summer.

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    1. I've never tried growing lettuce over the summer but my family loves salads so I figured I would give it a go & see how it does.

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  4. I know all too well about the flimsy trays, fortunately I found a store that carries better ones but I think they are not as sturdy as the ones you found, I'll have to check those out. Not to be wasteful I take the old flimsy ones and stack them together so I can get more use out of them before they completely fall apart.

    The dilemma with fall veggies is that they need to go into the garden in the height of summer. After years of gardening I'm still working out my rotations!

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    1. Stacking the trays is a great idea - I too dislike throwing things out if there is any kind of use left in them.

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  5. I've bought three nice trays too. I have lots of the other type and use them occasionally, but the thick trays are so nice. And they don't leak all over my floor when the plants are watered.

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    1. Exactly! I have a couple of small cracks in the shelves in my light stand & I always worried that a leaky tray might damage the light underneath.

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