Sunday, March 8, 2015

Update - Beginning of March


March is the month when the pace of indoor seed starting really picks up, especially towards the 3rd & 4th week.  We had a bit of a thaw a few days ago, quickly followed by record lows (again!) which essentially created a frozen layer of ice over all of the accumulated snow.


Sunshine Reflecting on the Ice Covered Snow
Hopefully the beginning of the end of winter
 
The good news is that the dip in temperatures only lasted a few days and we are now slowly but surely heading into some seasonal weather with highs (finally) over the freezing mark and even a couple of days going up to 6C (43F) next week…time to break out the shorts & t-shirts ;)

I, for one, have never been so anxious for spring to arrive…fingers crossed that this shift in the weather really does mark the end of yet another memorable winter.

Now on to what's happening under the grow lights.


Asparagus

The asparagus seedlings are doing fairly well.

Asparagus Ferns - 4 weeks
 
Every single seed in the packet germinated, so I now have 26 little plants.  The asparagus bed that I planned would be able to hold around 20 plants.  But I’m such a wimp when it comes to getting rid of seedlings, especially such precious ones, that I’m going to try to adjust my plan so that I can plant all of them.

The tall, floppy, wispy ferns are so delicate that I am paranoid about damaging them.  I feel that even an accidental brush with my hand may cause one of them to break.  I can’t wait to get these safely tucked away into a nice, deep pocket of soil outdoors.  If all goes well, only one month to go…


Onions

Most of the onion seedlings have come up & are looking pretty good.

Onion Seedlings - 2.5 weeks
 
So as not to disturb the seedlings, I normally test to see if a cell pack needs watering by lifting it & if it feels light, it gets watered.  When it comes to the onions, this can get a little tricky.  The flat is so large compared to a regular cell pack that it still tends to feel fairly heavy, even when the soil is dry.  Last year I didn’t realize this and I let the tray dry out a bit too much a few times.  I’m hoping to do a better job with watering the onion flats this year.

I also planted the seeds too shallowly last year and in some cases, you could actually see the base of the onion and the little roots going into the soil.  This, of course, made them much more susceptible to damage and drying out.  This time round, I sowed the seeds a good ¼” deep & so far, they are all looking nicely anchored.

On Friday, I finally picked up the Nebuka bunching onions & a couple of packets of leek seeds.  I will be getting these started today.


Peppers

Almost all of the pre-germinated pepper seeds that were sown have emerged & these are doing well.


Pepper Seedlings - 2 weeks
 
I was still waiting on one each of Ostra-Cyklon and Corne de Chevre to come up and they seemed to be taking much too long (it had been almost 10 days), considering the other seeds I sowed from these varieties only took 4-5 days from sowing to emergence.  I decided to do a bit of gentle rooting around in the soil to see what the story was.  The Ostra-Cyklon seed only had a small root coming out and the Corne de Chevre had nothing - perhaps I damaged the seeds when sowing them?  I decided to start over on both of these.

As for the Hungarian Hot Wax peppers, it's been 15 days and only 3 (out of 12) seeds have germinated - I'm still waiting for 3 more.  Last year, these took from 8-20 days to germinate in the paper towel.

I’ve looked at several sources that refer to how long various pepper varieties take to germinate and noticed that many of the varieties I am growing germinated in less time than that stated.  Mind you, these times probably referred to how long the seeds took to emerge when sown in soil, so of course, that would add a few days to my pre-germination times.

The Hot Wax is the exception, taking quite a bit longer than the 12 day average that I’ve seen.  I’m starting to think that the issue is perhaps not with the variety, but the seeds themselves.  The seeds are not old, I purchased them last year from Baker Creek, but perhaps they came from a bad batch.  So when I was at William Dam picking up the onion seeds, I also picked up a packet of their Hungarian Hot Wax pepper seeds.

Hungarian Hot Wax from William Dam

I’m pre-germinating some of these now & we’ll see how their germination compares to the Baker Creek seeds.


Flowers

I’ve also sown some petunia seeds that my daughter picked out last year.  I’ll be doing a post about that this coming week.

And that is what’s happening under the grow lights on this chilly (but seasonal!) March day.

Till next time…

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

22 comments:

  1. I'll be starting to seed more this week too I think. Maybe more toward the end of the week though. I'm still making that assumption that the snow will actually melt out in time. At least we will be close to our average temperatures this week instead of way below.

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    1. Hurray for normal temps! I've actually been contemplating shoveling off a bed or two like Kathy did, but decided to wait to see what the above freezing temps this week do first.

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  2. It looks so cold there, I hope it warms up a little for you soon. I like the idea of the grow lights, it means you can start things off earlier, I just wish I had the space for one. I started off some seeds yesterday but I shall be keeping an eye on them as early sowings are prone to grow leggy because of the low light levels at this time of year. Still, I've got time to resow if I need to.

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    1. It's funny how 0C seems practically summer-like once you have had lows in the -20/-30 range. I do love my lights - I'd be pretty much stuck without them as I don't have a good spot to start seeds in other than the basement. Good luck with your seedlings!

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  3. I'll be starting my peppers at the end of March or beginning of April and I'm thinking that I may try pre-germinating them or at least some of them this year. I've read that pepper seeds germinate better in a peat free soil mix but the soil I use has some peat in it and I don't want to buy yet another soil, so it will be interesting to see if pre-germinating makes a difference.

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    1. I hadn't heard about the peat issue - I would likely have had a hard time of it if I sowed them directly as my seed starting mix is also peat based. I'm looking forward to hearing how pre-germinating the seeds works out for you.

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  4. Your seedlings look so healthy, glad all your asparagus seeds germinated. I am having the same issue as you, frozen layer of ice over all of the accumulated snow, hopefully the night time temp will rise above freezing soon.

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    1. I can't see any grass yet, but I do see parts of my driveway, so at least that's some progress!

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  5. Oh, the asparagus are marvelous--congrats! I'm so glad those worked out for you!
    And baby onions are adorable beyond words.
    Everything looks terrific. You'll have a fine garden for sure!

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    1. Oh, thanks Sue! I was moving stuff around today when I was watering and I almost stepped on one of the ferns - eek! I'll probably be anxious until they are all planted outside.

      Although now that I think about it, I better come up with a plan for protecting them or my ferns may end up as rabbit food...from the way the bunnies are hanging out underneath the bird feeder lately trying to get at any scraps, I'm thinking they are mighty hungry this year.

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  6. Oh wow your peppers have germinated, I'm still waiting for my to prick through. Your seedlings are so healthy, spring is in the air.

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    1. Yes, spring is FINALLY in the air! When the snow is still a foot high outside, seeing those green seedlings in my basement does put a smile on my face.

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  7. Hi! I hope the weather stays nice for you and me too!! You have started so many seeds. I can't imagine doing all that. It must take a lot of your time. Good luck on transplanting them this year. Nancy

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    1. Hi Nancy! Starting all those seeds does take a lot of time, but I love it, especially when it's dreary outside.

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  8. I love those asparagus seedlings! I start all my seeds in a mix that is mostly peat, peppers included. I've never noticed any problems. I have had problems with a single variety though like you did with the Hungarian Wax. I blame the seeds. When I try with new seeds they always come up fine.

    Go spring!

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    1. Nothing has sprouted yet on my new packet of Hot Wax seeds, but it's only been a couple of days - I hope you are right! And Yay for above 0 temps!

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  9. Fabulous job on the asparagus! I've always used William Dam Hungarian Hot Wax and no issues - hope it goes well for you. Just got back from a vacation and have started nothing! Need to get into it quickly as I'm behind my usual schedule.

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    1. Thanks Susie! I'm sure your vacation was well worth the lost seed starting time. And at least you came back to some nice weather...relatively speaking ;)

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  10. Great photos Margaret. I still can't believe all the snow you guys have. The seeds look great too! I love the mini asparagus. Funnily enough, I'm thinking of losing my small asparagus bed as I've never looked after it and it has become riddled with couch grass (also known as spear grass as it spears though the soil and even through potatoes!). I do like asparagus but think I'd rather have more squashes. But what I might do is try and leave the asparagus as much as I can and just plant other stuff around it and see what happens!

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    1. I've never heard of spear grass - it does NOT sound pleasant!

      I like your option #2, leaving some of the asparagus in place. Maybe growing something else together with the asparagus will help with that beds upkeep & actually give you some better spears...asparagus spears, that is, not grass spears ;)

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  11. Replies
    1. Definitely a little bit beyond nippy!

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