Sunday, April 3, 2016

More Seeds? Umm...that would be a yes


Just so that I don't miss documenting what is obviously an annual event around here, this is my obligatory April snowfall pic, taken yesterday -

You can make out the absolutely HUGE fluffy flakes of snow as they fall.
 
Funny how you don't realize such things as "it always snows in April" until you start to keep track of them.

So on to my latest round of seed purchases which was instigated, as is so often the case, by a search for one particular variety.  Last year I pulled up all of my chives.  They were in a shallow bed that had been invaded by grass and it was such a pain picking all of the grass out whenever I harvested.  I decided that it would be better to start from scratch this year.  And in addition to standard chives, I also wanted to add in some garlic chives - I had been meaning to include them in my herb bed for a couple of years, but just never got around to it.

Chives are one of the few plants that I prefer to get from a garden centre instead of starting from seed – I find that this really gives me a jump start since seed sown chives seem to take a long time to become well established. 

As I was thinking about the chives, I recalled seeing some rather unusual garlic chives on Norma’s blog.  They were quite unlike the garlic chives I had grown in the past, being much fatter than the standard garden centre fare.

After doing a bit of searching, I found a local seed house that specializes in Asian varieties – AgroHaitai.  They had a couple of "Chinese Chive" varieties and I decided to try “Dah Ye” which has 1cm (0.40”) wide leaves with an "excellent" garlic flavor.  It is also supposed to get quite tall at 45cm (18”).

Of course, I couldn’t pick up just one packet of seeds, now could I?

Agro-Haitai Seed Order

I ended up with 8 additional packets.  The most exciting bit?  I hadn't heard of any of these varieties before:
  • Farmer’s Long Eggplant – A variety from Taiwan that is better yielding then Ping Tung Long.
  • White Princess Eggplant – Early variety that is white (obviously!), tender and great tasting.
  • Lu Mei Hot Pepper – Early & high yielding; mildly hot and harvested when green (always a plus in a short season!)
  • Chinese Miben Winter Squash – Sweet, vigorous & high yielding; stores well.
  • Zao Feng Winter Squash– A dark green, flattened variety that matures early.  The flesh is described as dry, nutty & sweet.
  • Jing Orange Winter Squash – Early maturing, vigorous.  Also sweet, dry & nutty.
  • SD Mini Napa – Heads are only about 1 kg.  Slow bolting & disease resistant.
  • CR Mini Top Napa – Another mini- type that you can harvest in as little as 45 days after transplanting.  Slow bolting.

The descriptions are based on details I found on the website & seed packets.  Only time will tell if they hold true.

This was yet another case of taking advantage of ordering from a source that I don’t usually purchase from.  Several of the seeds I purchased will not end up in the garden this season but I’ll be ready for next year (and the year after that!).

One of the first things that struck me when I opened the envelope were the sealed plastic seed packets, which is quite unusual.  In fact, it’s the first time I’ve seen them packaged this way.  I’m thinking that, so long as the seeds were properly dried, this may increase their storage life.  Since I'm not planning to grow all of them this year, that would be quite beneficial.

The second thing I noticed?  The SD Mini Napa seeds.  Their vibrant blue colour indicated that they were treated in some way.

I'm sure some seeds may look like this, but not brassica seeds :(
 
The description on the packet confirmed it - that little detail had been missing from the website description unfortunately.  I'll be contacting the company to find out what exactly is on the seed - depending on what they say, I may decide to forgo sowing these.

The seed packets were also missing a vital piece of information that most every other seed packet in my collection contains - a date.  In order to give us some assurance as to the freshness of the seed, packets normally contain either a harvest or "use by" date.  The labels on the AgroHaitai packets had neither.  This, of course, calls into question how old the seeds may be.  It would be rather simple to hold seeds over that don't sell from one season to the next.

Back to the chives.  I've sown most of the garlic chive seeds in a 2x4" cell.  I held back on sowing all of them, just in case I have more damping off issues.  And now the waiting game - hopefully I'll be seeing some signs of life by next weekend.

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

24 comments:

  1. I hope that ends up just being some "inert" coating on the seeds. It would be a shame if it wasnt'.
    Margaret, I'm so much like you. No matter how many seeds I have---just a few more never hurts-LOL!
    It's like an addiction, though one that grows yummy healthy food instead of being bad for ya.
    Have fun

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    1. Yeah, I'm crossing my fingers that those seeds are covered in some florescent blue cornstarch, but have a sneaky suspicion that this will not be the case. Oh well - it's not a big loss in terms of $ but I was REALLY looking forward to comparing that variety with the other mini-napas that I purchased seed for.

      Oh yes...we are seed-a-holics, aren't we :) It's so easy to get carried away when each packet holds such promise - and at only a couple of bucks each, how can we resist?

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  2. Omigosh, I laughed and laughed when I saw your first photo. I had just put up a new post which is in such great contrast to yours. Come what is called summer,though, I post nothing for months on end. I guess the seasons really do work their way north and back again on a yearly cycle. Hang in there, Margaret, summer is coming. Garlic chives return here year after year. They are about 12 inches high today.

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    1. All this snow would definitely be a shocker for Californians - even for us it's a surprise (although I think that has more to do with short memories - the weather is usually so nice by the end of April, that early snowstorms are quickly forgotten).

      Can't wait for spring to arrive - and stay! I'm sure I'll be having some serious garden envy when I read your latest post.

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  3. Aren't you adventuresome! If you're ever in Toronto and want garlic chive, just let me know. It's a lovely weed in my garden. I also often give away walking or Egyptian onion (Allium cepa) – a mild perennial green onion. You're welcome to some of both.

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    1. Oh, that's so generous of you, Helen! I will definitely keep that in mind for the next time I head into the city - I have actually been meaning to add Egyptian onions to the garden for a while now.

      There is something about having plants in your garden which were shared by friends that makes them that much more special than any of those that you purchase yourself.

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  4. Huge flakes indeed, hopefully a sign that spring is just around the corner. I have seen seeds in plastic packs but with the zip tops, sealed bags are new to me. I know how it is when you are looking for one variety, it just doesn't make sense to order just one packet of seeds, especially when there are so many new and interesting seeds on offer! Hope that blue stuff isn't anything icky.

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    1. That's so true, especially when you take into account shipping costs which are usually 2 or 3 times the cost of the packet of seeds! My fingers crossed for spring - they say that this should be our last blast of winter and spring weather will arrive to stay by mid-April - but you know how these forecasts go...I give them a 50/50 chance of being correct.

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  5. Your foray into Oriental seeds may be a bit of a "mixed blessing", by the sound of it. I wonder where AgroHaiTai is based - are the seeds from China? These days I find it hard to trust anything that is produced in China - they use some very dubious working practices and their attitude to environmental friendliness leaves a lot to be desired! And btw, your weather doesn't look very Oriental either... :)

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    1. Unfortunately if you want oriental seed, there is not a whole lot of choice - Most companies that specialize in oriental varieties likely obtain their seed from China (and thereabouts) to begin with. The one saving grace is that the regulations on importing seed in any significant quantity are quite rigorous. AgroHaitai also indicates on their website that they do "extensive trials and tests both in China and Canada, screening a wide range of varieties" - hopefully their efforts in China follow the same standards level that they would use here. And you definitely wouldn't be confusing my backyard for one in China right now, would you ;)

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  6. Eeek, that's a lot of snow to get in April, I hope it doesn't hang around too long. I don't usually take too much notice of the date on a seed packet with regard to sowing them, I find most seeds are viable long past their sow by date, however, I think a seed company should tell you when the seed was packed otherwise, as you say, they could be selling seed which isn't fresh. It's one thing keeping seed longer than a season yourself and quite another being actually sold old seed.

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    1. Our weather is supposed to warm up over the next week & stay consistently "spring-like" from there on in - or so they are saying. I really have to get my potatoes into the ground and was hoping to get that done in the next couple of weeks, so they better be right!

      And you are quite right about the seed - depending on the variety, I have seeds that are well over 3 years old and still doing very well. But when I purchase them, I expect fresh seed that was harvested this year. I suppose the proof will be in the germination rates when I sow them.

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  7. That 1cm chive sounds like a giant! I had to go out and measure one I have called Flowering Chinese Leek. Despite the name, it is a garlic chive, and while the flowers might be the main attraction I think the leaves are nice too. The biggest one I could find was 8mm. It volunteers here, as a result of me letting it go to seed one year. I've had it ever since.

    No snow here but we had a big freeze this past weekend. I hope the weather settles down (whatever that means) for all of us!

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    1. It does sound big, doesn't it? I've only ever grown the "normal" garlic chives which look the same as regular ones other than the flat vs. tubular leaves. I'm excited to try out this totally new herb (or veg?).

      And we are actually expecting ANOTHER snowstorm tomorrow...not impressed!

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  8. I also have had to repeat orders to vendors because I forgot to put something on original order, or the seed packet I had was actually empty, or I can't find the packet. Of course you can't order just one item, so I pad out the order with a few more interesting things. So, where are you going to put all these new goodies?

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    1. That's always the big question :) The pepper & eggplants I'll be leaving for another year. As for the others, I'm only adding one new bed so I've been shuffling things around a bit and seeing what I should grow now or perhaps leave until the fall. That's the plan, anyhow :) The squash are a bit easier to find room for - I'm just going to get a few more straw bales...and then hope that I have better success with them this year!

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  9. I have a lot of extra 'Peggy's Delight' zinnia seeds that I collected from my own garden that I thought you might enjoy. They're such a beautiful and unusual form of zinnia. Let me know if you want them. :o) The blue seeds should have come with a disclaimer telling you what they had been treated with. Very sneaky not to reveal that!

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    1. Thanks Tammy - I would love to try them! I've never grown zinnia's, so it will be very exciting - I will e-mail you...

      And yes, I think that full disclosure should be mandatory when it comes to treated seed - not only that it is treated but also what it's treated with.

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  10. We had hail yesterday but hi snow! The blue seeds make you wonder if they treat other things with colourless treatments,

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    1. Yikes - hail can wreak havoc on plants - I hope yours "weathered" it ok!

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  11. What a lot of snow ... I was out in heavy rain showers recently, not the same as snow though!
    To grow we all need a good mix but it always amazes me how seeds / plants just do the best they can and survive!

    All the best Jan

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    1. So true, Jan - and when you think of what a seed the size of a pinhead can produce...it's miraculous! They often do a better job than we do too - how often do we struggle to get a particular plant to grow and then see it effortlessly self-seeding in a crack in the walkway :)

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  12. I had a similar issue with Stokes where I excitedly order seeds a few years ago only to discover they were treated - maybe I just hadn't noticed, so could have been my fault. But disappointing - I just chucked them in the garbage.

    Coincidentally, I also ripped up my established chives last year as I was getting grass growing up into it. So I will be starting from seed - probably should have started them by now!

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    1. Yup, I called the AgroHaitai yesterday and found out that they treated the seeds with Thiram, a fungicide...so they are unfortunately not going to get sown.

      I'll still be getting my "regular" chives from the garden centre as I don't think there is any difference between those and the ones you grow from seed, other than how long it takes to get a harvest!

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