Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Spring is here...hopefully


Yesterday was the first day of spring and it was surprisingly spring-like.  With the roller coaster weather all winter, I was half expecting a blizzard.  For the last couple of days, I've been able to comfortably walk around outside wearing only a fleece jacket.  Now, I'm not crazy enough to put my winter coat and boots away just yet - call me superstitious, but whenever I jump the gun, Mother Nature inevitably shows me who's boss.

Inside the house, however, I'm the boss - within reason, of course :)  As there has been little consistency in our weather, I decided to maintain my seeding schedule as is.  There's always the temptation to move things up a bit when the weather is unseasonably warm, but it's a gamble - sometimes it pays off while other times, it doesn't.  This year I have a lot on my gardening plate (more on that in a future post), so I'm sticking to the original game plan.

The onions, leeks & shallots were seeded back in February and are well on their way.  So far, no issues with damping off like last year.  Now excuse me for a sec while I look for a piece of wood to knock on ;)

Onion, leek and shallot seedlings, well on their way

Not long after starting the onions, I moved on to the peppers.  Peppers are a bit slow to get going - sometimes even germination takes a few weeks.  In our area, with it's short growing season, I find that they benefit from an extra early start.

Pepper seedlings (approx. 1 month old)

Next up was the eggplant, which was started on March 6.  A couple of years ago when I first grew eggplant, I started them in late March but, as with peppers, I find that they do better with an earlier start.

Eggplant seedlings (2 weeks old)

The kale is up.  I have opted (as I often do) to grow more varieties, in this case a total of four, but only have a couple of plants each for 8 plants in total:

Kale seedlings - less than a week old

The potatoes are also taking up some room under the grow lights.

Potatoes ready for chitting

For some strange reason, these did much better in storage than last year.  Many hadn't sprouted yet and those that did only had small sprouts for the most part. I stored them in the same way and our winter was once again rather warm so the cold cellar didn't stay as cold as usual (just like in the prior year).  I'm stumped as to why they would have stored better this time round.

The sweet potatoes are doing very well compared to last year, especially this guy:

Obviously enjoying the toasty heat mat

The fig trees were brought out of hibernation 2 weeks ago and placed in front of our south facing patio door:

It's still too cold for these guys to be outside; once their photo op was done,
they were quickly brought back in

I took a photo of the handsome duo at this time last year - you can really see how much they have grown:

Figs on March 12, 2016

From a distance, the plants may still look dormant, but on closer inspection the buds are swollen - it won't be too much longer before they open:


And lastly, I am growing a number of ornamentals this year, some of which are already up and running:

Lemon Bee Balm (Monarda citriodora)

Strawflowers (Xerochrysum bracteatum)
If you look closely, you can see seed germinating activity in all of the cells

Palisandra, one of three coleus varieties I'm growing

I'm super excited about the coleus - look at the gorgeous colour on the cotyledons already!

Things are going well at this point....more or less.  I was removing the layer of straw from my beds today and noticed that 3 of my drip lines had been damaged and/or severed by some critter over the winter.  It will be a quick fix, but it's nonethless annoying.

Oh well - let's concentrate on the positive, shall we?  So far, miracle of miracles, I'm right on schedule and all my little seedlings seem to be happy.  Let's hope it stays that way :)

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

22 comments:

  1. Everything sure looks amazing! Why do you put your potatoes under the grow lights? Nancy

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    1. Thanks Nancy! With regards to the lights, that's called "chitting" or "sprouting" (as in the eyes sprout) and it is supposed to be good for a couple of reasons (1) it gives the potatoes a head start which may result in a better harvest and (2) the greening of the potatoes may help ward off critters from eating the tubers after they are planted.

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  2. You've made a good start. I'm growing very little this year but haven't sown a thing yet. I've grown coleus in the past, you get such a variation in colour. There's a fabulous display at nearby Temple Newsam, you can read about it here:-
    http://jo-thegoodlife.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/garden-visiting-in-july-part-one.html

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    1. Wow - what an amazing garden! The coleus display is outstanding and really does justice to showcasing this plants diversity.

      I absolutely fell in love with coleus on the last Bloggers Fling - there was one garden (which I have yet to post about...I'm a bit behind!) that had dozens of different varieties. My "ho-hum" opinion of coleus completely changed after that.

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  3. I am always so impressed with how you can grow everything from seed. I struggle starting seeds indoors so I usually direct sow when the soil gets warm enough. Spring is definitely a roller coaster ride. Last week we had a few night of freeze and I had to dig out my winter woolies and yesterday it was 85 here and I had to break out my summer wardrobe.

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    1. So you're going on the roller coaster ride too, I see! Yup, this morning I had my kids put on their snowpants as it was -9C/16F....with the wind chill it was -18C/0F!!

      I do find some seeds easier to start indoors, especially those tiny, finicky ones, as you have more control over things like soil, moisture, etc. If it was an option, however, I would likely sow many more things outdoors, but with our short growing season, that would limit me too much.

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  4. Your seedlings are all looking great. I just started my leeks, am late but hopefully not too late.

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    1. Thanks Norma - I'm sure your late sowing will do just fine. The great thing about leeks is that they are still delicious even if they don't get to their mature size.

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  5. Right now there's a fire in the wood stove and it's just above freezing at 10 AM here in central Indiana. It's only a one day thing and weather goes back to 'normal' as far as the forecast goes. I agree about eggplant, it's nearly as slow as peppers. I'll start mine in a few days. I've found eggplant is very sensitive to cool weather, any exposure below 40 degrees and it will never do well in my experience. Your alliums are looking good. My seed grown onions have problems with damping off also, it usually takes a few of them.

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    1. You and I are in the same weather boat - as of tomorrow, we are back above freezing for the foreseeable future, although these two week forecasts seem to change at the drop of a hat.

      I don't take any chances with peppers or eggplant - they don't get transplanted out until are temps are nice and warm. This year, though, I'll probably be antsy even then considering the wild swings this past winter. Fingers crossed we have some consistency over the summer months.

      Ugh...damping off is such a depressing disease - whenever it strikes, it does a number of my enthusiasm.

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  6. Those seedlings are sure looking good! I remember growing coleus a few years back, and how small the seed is. The petunias are the same way, and I'm always amazed to see how they size up. Is that vermiculite you're using to avoid damping off? I've got a bad aphid outbreak but thankfully no diseases showing up yet.

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    1. Thanks Dave :) It seems that the majority of flower seeds are mere specks of dust - it really is a wonder when you start to see bits of green in the soil!

      Yup - I use vermiculite together with a sprinkling of cinnamon to help with damping off, especially for those veg where I've had issues in the past.

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  7. We haven't really got going properly yet. Any time now.

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    1. Oh, I don't know about that - seems like you've been quite busy, especially with the paintbrush on those blossoms :)

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  8. Your seed-starting techniques always fascinate me. It sounds like it will be a great growing season, and I'm sure your garden and harvest will be incredible, as always! :)

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    1. Thanks, Beth! Every season is so full of possibilities...and surprises! The hope is that the good surprises outnumber the bad :)

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  9. Great job on those seedlings! After much hemming and hawing, I'm not starting my summer garden from seed (except for what I can direct sow in May or June) because we're going out of town mid-May, which is normally when I plant and I'm not sure I can trust seedlings (either in flats or freshly planted) to a house sitter.

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    1. Thanks Jennifer :) Good call on not going with seeds this year - unless the sitter knows what they are doing it's much too easy to either over or underwater those tiny cell packs and then all your hard work is down the drain.

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  10. Your seedlings look like they are eager to get their roots in the soil and start growing! I love fresh figs, hope you get some this season!

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    1. We harvested exactly one fig last year - it was divine! Fingers are crossed for at least two this time round ;)

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  11. You are far ahead of me in the seed starting game. I put off starting things because of our 3 week trip in March so now I'm going to have a sow-fest, first some spring veggies and then tomatoes and peppers. Fortunately my long growing season is so very forgiving.

    I've found that a couple of kale plants is plenty, especially when growing more than one variety. Looking forward to seeing what peppers you're growing this year...

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    1. It's always tempting to grow more than you can use, especially when it comes to greens. At the start of the season, when everything is so tiny, it seems completely reasonable to plant an entire bed of kale :)

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