Thursday, February 26, 2015

Starting Onions

Aah...the weather.  Never a dull moment lately, it seems.  While we haven't seen the huge amount of snow being experienced in the Northeastern US (although we've had our fair share), we have had another record breaking year.  For us, however, it's not about the snow but the temperatures.  This is only the 2nd time in recorded history where the temperatures in February have stayed below the freezing mark for the entire month (the last time being 1978).  We have also, once again, had several record breaking lows, with temperatures in the -20's (< -4F) and wind chills in the -30 to -40C range (-22 to -40F).  Just another nail in the coffin for my dreams of actually getting some fruit from my trees this year...sigh.

But even though it's a frozen tundra outside at the moment, inside I'm busy starting seeds and dreaming of spring.  You know, I think that people that wait until May & go to the nursery to pick up all of their planting stock are really missing out...nothing lifts a gardeners spirits more than a bit of soil, seed & green in February.

I started my onions on February 19th.  I'm growing all of the same varieties I grew last year plus a few new ones.

Onion Seeds for 2015

Thursday, February 19, 2015

We Have Lift-off!

So what to my wondering eyes should appear when I checked on my asparagus flat yesterday?

Asparagus Seedlings
If you look closely, you can see all 4 have come up in this cell pack
Hip Hip Hurray!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Sowing Asparagus

This year one of my goals is to set up an asparagus patch.  My original plan was to purchase crowns.  I had, however, heard (somewhere?) that growing asparagus from seed was possibly a better alternative.  When I mentioned that I was hoping to start some asparagus on Bek’s blog, she also re-iterated that I should consider going the seed route instead of using crowns.

Why?  Because seed grown asparagus can result in better, stronger plants in the long run since they didn’t go through the shock of being ripped from the ground, packaged and then allowed to sit there for who knows how long waiting to be purchased.

This, coupled with complaints from other bloggers about the dubious quality of the crowns they purchased (with some crowns not even surviving into their 2nd year), prompted me to give seeds a try.  The fact that asparagus seeds are also about 1/3 the cost of crowns doesn’t hurt either.

The one big drawback to growing asparagus from seed, of course, is that your first harvest will be delayed by one year.  But since asparagus is such a long lived vegetable, often producing for over twenty years, I don’t mind the extra wait if that means my plants will be stronger & give me a better harvest in the long run.

This past weekend I got down to business and sowed my asparagus seed.  There were a total of 26 seeds in the packet and I decided to sow them all.  I'm still debating on the size of the bed, but I know that I will need at least 18-20 plants, so hopefully I get a good rate of germination.

To give the seeds a bit of a jump start, I soaked them in water for 2 hours before sowing:

Guelph Millennium (F1) Asparagus Seeds
Enjoying a soak before sowing

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Seed Orders - 2015

I have a little word file tucked away on my computer where I quickly jot down varieties that pique my interest, often as a result of other bloggers posts or comments.  Well…that file is now 14 pages long.

I would love to grow every single variety – wouldn’t we all? - but the limits of time and space mean that I have to pick and choose.  For me, this is often the most difficult part of the planning process.  The good news is that since growing vegetables is generally a one year (or less) commitment, I can eventually try everything on my list….in theory anyhow.  In practice, for every one variety I try, I probably end up adding at least one or two more to the list.

In my last post, I outlined the process that I went through before purchasing seeds.  Once I decide what seed varieties I want to purchase, I first look to my 3 favourite seed companies:  William Dam, Pinetree, and Baker Creek.

All of these companies sell a wide variety of seeds at good prices and, equally important to me, they have all signed the Safe Seed Pledge.

Since William Dam is within a reasonable driving distance, I usually go there to pick up my seeds & I also get many of my supplies from them such as seed starting mix, fish emulsion, cell packs, etc..  When I went there in January, they didn't have a couple of the varieties that I wanted in stock yet, so I am already planning a second visit within the next couple of weeks.

William Dam Seed Order

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

My Garden Plans - 2015

In early January, I finally got around to planning this years garden.  I like to finalize my plan before I order seeds, otherwise there is just too much temptation and I tend to go way off course, purchasing too much of some varieties and not enough of others.

Planning the garden usually involves a variety of tasks:

  • Going over my notes from the prior year (this is where those end of season summaries come in very handy!)
  • Preparing a list of veg that I want to grow, including new varieties that I want to try
  • Preparing the veg layout for each of the beds - at which point I usually realize that I "need" a few more beds ;)
  • Sorting through my seed stash which results in 3 piles - keep, dump (those seeds that I feel may be diseased) & give away (the seeds are good, but I don't want to grow that variety again).  If I had old seed, I may test germinate it at this stage too. 
  • LOTS of catalogue browsing - both paper & online - for the varieties that I need to purchase (and usually a few extra goodies get added to the shopping cart along the way).
  • Going back to the garden plan & adjusting it, if necessary, based on my seed purchases.

My plan, however, is never truly finalized as I do have a tendency to make small (or sometimes large) changes as the weeks pass...all the way up to the day of planting or sowing seeds outdoors.