More salad fixins...

on Tuesday, March 2, 2010

It seems like this time of year most of the garden work is starting things you eat mostly in salads or soups - such as lettuce, spinach, onions and leeks. Way back on January 24th I started the leek seeds, and as you can see here, they're doing fine.

Hard to believe something that skinny now will get at least as thick as your thumb by midsummer, hunh!?

This past weekend I started my first ever bunching onions, also known as scallions. Since I have a hard time picking any one variety, I started Guardsman ("The earliest bunching onion we've found."), Nabechan ("Better flavor than other bunching onions") and Deep Purple ("The first red buncher that is highly colored at any temperature or age"), all from Johnny's Select Seeds. The bunching onion seeds are over in the tray on the left.

The tray on the right has tonite's work - I sowed seeds for three varieties of spinach - Tyee ("The most bolt-resistant savoy type. Upright growth habit for cleaner leaves."), Bloomsdale Long-Standing ("Heavy, continuous yield of thick-textured, crinkled, glossy, dark green leaves."), and Avon ("Quick-growing, superb flavor. Large, tender, dark green, slightly crinkled leaves"). I've never started spinach plants indoors before - they're something that does totally fine with direct-sowing in the soil while it's still a little chilly out. But since Mary and I are doing this CSA thing, where I need to make sure I have plenty of veggies for these people showering us with money, I figured I'd see if I could get a head start! My plan is to plant these out in a few weeks, once things thaw out a bit, and to direct sow additional spinach seeds at that time. (This is also when I'll put out some lettuce plants and seeds) These plants won't LOVE the cold, so they'll get the benefit of a coldframe being set over them, which will allow sunlight in and maintain warmer temperatures while keeping the cold breeze (and possibly snow) off the plants.

When buying seeds, either from a catalog or in the store, you have to pay attention to what you're NOT reading just as much as what you are. If the description pushes amazing flavor in a tomato, you may find that to be true but that the plant is more susceptible to disease or having it's skin crack. If the description goes on and on about how the skin doesn't crack, no matter what the weather, I've found that sometimes I'll have to chew and chew on the tomato skin when it comes time to eat it. Nope - sure didn't crack! So now that I'm growing my own onions from seed, I wonder what quirks I'll find between the different varieties?

Remember the experiment I started last week, where I'm starting a tomato seed each week until Mary and I have our class on seed starting at work? Well, the first Brandywine tomato is doing just fine - it's the tiny little green sprout here. I started a second one today.

I also decided to show the seed growing progress for slightly more "aggressive" growers - such as zucchini! While it's great to get a head start on your slow-growing tomatoes and peppers, often starting them in March, it's a totally different story with many of the vine-growing crops like squash, pumpkins and melons. To prove the point, I sowed two Black zucchini seeds that were packed for 2008, and we'll see how things go. (They're in the larger pot in the picture above.) I intend to do the same next week, and the week after. I'm sowing two each time because the seeds are considerably older, and I don't want to miss out on a week's seedling if I get a seed that's no longer viable. Between you and me I figure I'll be snipping a sprout each week anyhow...


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