Friday, March 22, 2013

March Seedling and Sowing Update

A sprained ankle (much improved now) has not kept me from keeping up with tending spring seedlings nor has it kept me from sowing yet more seeds. I've potted up or planted out most of the first round of seedlings. I always start far more than what I need in the garden. It never fails that when I sow just what I need that there is failure of some sort and I end up with not enough. There's a bit of method to my madness also, I get to plant out the biggest happiest healthiest seedlings in the garden. Then I can give away the rest of the seedlings and failing that they get "recycled".

I'm giving Purple Peacock broccoli a second chance. My autumn planting turned out to be something of a dud but I think that that was my fault, the young plants ended up in a very shaded spot and didn't get very large. So they are going to get a chance to show me what they can do in the spring garden. If they turn out to be duds again then I'll move on.

Purple Peacock broccoli seedlings.

Here's seedlings for my all-time favorite kale - Lacinato (aka Tuscan kale, Cavolo Nero, Dino kale). I don't usually grow kale as a spring crop, but I really didn't get my fill of this kale this winter so I want more. I used to start it in the spring and it would produce for a year. A big advantage to that method was that the plants would be huge heading into winter which pretty much guaranteed an abundant harvest through the winter. But the last few years it always seemed that the plants would bolt prematurely so I gave up on the spring planting method. But I'm willing to try  again.

Laciniato kale seedlings

Here's the greyhounds of the brassicas, Little Jade napa cabbage. I sowed the seeds for these babies at the same time as the kale and broccoli. Whoa baby, look how they've grown!

I haven't met a sprouting broccoli that I don't like (except Purple Sprouting, aka The Aphid Magnet). This year I'm returning to my first broccoli love, Di Ciccio, an Italian heirloom. It's been a number of years since this variety has graced my garden so it's time to see if the old fave is as good as I remember. Those are in the top pot on the left. This afternoon's project is to get them potted up into larger containers. There's also two 6-pack's of extra lettuce seedlings that were left after I set out most of the seedlings in the garden. These are back-up in case the birds or bugs do in too many of the plants that I set out, or I will try to give them away if I don't need them. The other 4-inch pots are sown with English watercress, Sweetie Baby romaine lettuce, Early rapini, Wild Garden Frills Russian kale, and Green Fortune baby pak choi. The flat of paper pots is sown with mostly Summer Perfection spinach and a few pots of Romanesco bulbing fennel.

All the above seedlings and starts are outside 24/7 now. I was schlepping the flats show below inside at night and outside for the day, but I've finally set up my seedling heat mat outside and I'm going to keep these starts on it until most of the seeds have germinated. There's one flat of Fagiolo del Purgatorio (Purgatory beans) and one flat of Cicerchia (Lathyrus sativus, more on these later). And I've sown the larger white pots with Romanesco zucchini and Ortolano di Faenza zucchini. And the 4-inch pots are sown with five varieties of cucumbers - Garden Oasis, Green Fingers Persian, Tasty Green Japanese, Tortarello Abruzzese, and Carosello Tondo di Manduria.

The latest seedlings to be planted out into the garden are Iceberg Superior and Rhapsody butterhead lettuces. I start all my lettuce in 4-inch pots and let them grow until they have at least a couple of true leaves.

Then I tease all the seedlings apart and choose the best of the bunch.

I space the best ones far enough apart to allow them to mature into full size heads and then fill in between with more seedlings that I will harvest as babies. There's 24 seedlings of each variety set out and I hope to grow about half those to full size heads.

The next round of seed sowing will be tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants. And one more round of beets, snow and snap peas. Oh, and I can't forget the snap and runner beans. Whew, I hope there's enough room in the garden - I really must get that last bed finished. I nearly had the space ready when I did my ankle in.... 


  1. Looks GREAT. I keep wondering if I'll ever start seeds again, but in the mean time I'll enjoy yours.

  2. I hope your ankle gets better soon. I envy you planting out your spring crops already. I ought to have at least the earliest of mine in about now, but I still have snow. I keep watching the weather. And before they were predicting that next week would be really nice. But now they have a Monday and Tuesday cold front over us and giving us more snow and temps in the 30s. I want spring already.

  3. For some reason your blog posts don't seem to register on my Blog list so I never realise you've posted - hence all the comments at once. All those beautiful seedlings - I so many things to grow.... Hope your ankle improves.


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