What's sprouting!?!?

on Monday, March 22, 2010

About time I gave an update on what's growing in the basement, hunh?

Well, first off, I've decided to try an experiment. I was going to give up on ever growing beets again because I just didn't LOVE how I was preparing them, and thought maybe I just wasn't a beet person. Then I had some of Kelli's amazing home-canned beats when we were up at Chicken Thistle Farm during the holidays, and she's convinced me to give 'em another go. Rather than roasting, I'm looking forward to canning them in water and seeing if they turn out better (this means I'll need to buy a pressure canner - regular water-bath canning won't work for non-acidic and non-pickled beets).

Anyhow, the experiment here is that I'm starting these beets indoors. I learned from the latest "Tales from Terry's Allotment" that you can start the beets indoors, and also, rather than thinning them early, you can harvest smaller/young beets and then just leave one remaining to plant out. It turns out the "seeds" you get in a packet of beet seeds aren't actually individual seeds. Each of those "seeds" is really a small cluster of seeds - so even if you plant just one, you'll have multiple sprouts pop out from that spot. Normally we want to thin seedlings such as this so they don't overcrowd each other and fight for nutrients. Well Terry, let's hope your technique works!

Oh, and as you can see in the pic below, some of these guys are leaning a bit. I have their tray a little out from under the edge of the lights and they're not too happy about it.

Other goodies are starting to sprout in the basement - such as the eggplants...

...and the tomatoes! It seems the peppers are a little behind these other two crops that I started at about the same time. I figured the eggplants would be the last to sprout.

The lettuce seeds I started way back on January 18th are doing great! I seriously need to think about getting these guys used to the idea of living outdoors, which means putting them outside in a sheltered, shady area a little bit each day for awhile, and then building up their exposure. I'll also need to make sure to protect them from nightly frosts for awhile, which will mean cloches or floating row covers.

I've never started bunching onions (aka scallions) before - looks like they do really well being started indoors!!!

And from my direct-sowing of radishes, lettuce, spinach and bunching onions outside a week and a half ago?

It looks like the radishes are definitely the first to come up! No big surprise there - radishes are incredibly eager to get growing. I'm not the biggest fan of radishes, but I do enjoy growing them for others to eat, plus I wanted to try some new varieties this year.

I ordered two varieties of garlic online last year, which were planted in the fall. When I've tried growing garlic before, I've just gotten heads of whatever garlic is in the grocery store and planted it. Those heads are often treated with something to persuade them NOT to sprout....but if you buy garlic you know it'll sprout sooner or later anyhow.

Since I was ordering "real" garlic for planting, I decided to try one hardneck variety and one softneck variety. Different varieties of garlic offer different flavors, some are spicier than others, and their days til harvest may differ. And then there's the difference between hardneck (which has a stiffer central stem rising out of the center of the head) and softneck - both in the firmness of the central stalk, and I believe storage.

The garlic seem to be doing really well now! Will I have enough to include in the CSA shares? Eh, I'm not sure - I'll probably include a head in each share even though these were planted looong before I'd decided to go in on the CSA plans with Mary. We'll just have to see how they do!


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