What is new in 2022? And, starting to homestead in a suburban lot

This year, despite my best hopes, has become yet another year of intense learning about how best to grow things in my home garden. There are worse things, I know, but I am looking forward to eventually having a calm, uneventful spring in which I already know exactly what I like to grow and how to do so. That day, however, as Aragorn says, is not this day.

I posted on a Facebook garden group I joined a while back about all of the different varieties I had planted just by March of this year. Most members, also addicted to gardening, cheered me on, but a few were shocked. And I thought maybe the amount of plants–about half of which are new to me–may be a tad on the high side.

Part of my rush into gardening comes from the fact that, at 44 years old, I had bought a house and could finally do the amount of gardening I’d been dreaming of. Prior to this I had been living in the Bay Area of California, and despite CA being a lovely place to live, it is also extremely expensive, and I knew that I’d never be able to afford the type of house and yard that I wanted. So now I did finally have land–a good-sized yard (.15 total acre for the plot, 2/3s of which is lawn and garden)– in a nice older neighborhood in my hometown. And, boy howdy, was I ready to garden!

Another factor in my gardening obsession is, of course, Covid. I was locked at home for the better part of two years, and even now have the luxury of continuing to work from home. And Covid also brought with it intermittent food shortages and general societal and consumer anxiety, and like many others during this time, I found gardening helped to ease some of that anxiety.

Finally, an unexpected knee surgery in February 2021 literally made me sit down and do nothing for six weeks right before gardening season. I was bored, in pain, and itching with irritation at missing seed starting season again. (We had moved into our house Memorial Day weekend the year before, so that year’s garden started late as well.) So I made up for it by watching approximately a million Youtube videos and buying tons of packets of seeds and canning equipment. Thus the world of commercial flower farming, farmer’s market gardening, and, in particular, homesteading was opened up to me. For over six weeks, I spent most of my waking hours sitting at home watching my videos, and created the most massively detailed, multi-tabbed Excel spreadsheet to help me organize all my gardening plans. As you do.

All that said, here’s a list of new-to-me varieties that I’ve successfully sown this year so far–all 118 of them. All grown from seed unless otherwise noted. Note that these are not all of the varieties I’ve sown, just ones that are new to me this year. Some of the seeds were ones I bought last year but didn’t have any luck with or didn’t get around to sowing. The rest are new this year.

Herbs:
Basil, Emerald Towers
Basil, Cinnamon
Basil, Thai Sweet
Borage, ‘Alba’
Chamomile, Zloty Lan
Cilantro, Santo
Comfrey (from root cutting)
Dill, Bouquet
Dill, Mammoth
Fennel, Dragon F1
Fennel, Florence
Lavender, Munstead (from seed! finally)
Mint, Catnip
Thyme, Garden
Yarrow, White

Flowers:
Alyssum, Dwarf Rainbow Mix
Aster, Salmon Janina
Baby’s Breath
Bachelor’s Button, Classic Romantic 
Dianthus, Sweet William
Gomphrena, Salmon Pastel 
Gomphrena, Carmine
Hibiscus, Red Mahagony
Nicotiana, Jasmine Scented
Pampas Grass, Plume Mix
Phlox, Lavender Beauty
Poppy, Iceland–Pastel Meadows
Rudbeckia, Indian Summer (yellow)
Rudbeckia, Gloriosa Daisy Prairie Sun
Rudbeckia, Goldilocks
Snapdragons, Rocket Mix
Snapdragon, Black Prince
Snapdragon, Tequila Sunrise
Snapdragon, Night and Day
Snapdragon, Magic Carpet Blend 
Strawflower, Apricot
Stock, Anytime Mix
Stock, Sissi “Shades of Blue” Mix
Sweet Pea, Bouquet Blend 
Sweet Pea, High Scent 
Sweet Pea, Knee-Hi Blend 
Sweet Pea, Little Sweetheart
Sweet Pea, Perfume Delight 
Sweet Pea, Royal Blend
Tulip, Darwin Hybrid Blushing Apeldorn
Viola, Brush Strokes 
Viola, Cool Summer Breeze
Zinnia, Queen Lime Red
Zinnia, Queen Lime Lime
Brassicas:
Broccoli, Burgundy
Brussel Sprouts,  Silvia
Chijimisai
Radish, French Breakfast
Radish, Miyashige White Daikon 
Turnip, Tokinashi
Legumes:
Bean, Borlotto Del Valdarno
Fava, Aquadulce 
Fava, Broad Windsor
Snap Pea, Magnolia Blossom Tendril
Cucumbers & Watermelons:
Cucumber, Salad Bush
Cucumber, Chelsea
Melon, Savor F1
Nightshades:
Tomato, Black Strawberry 
Tomato, Cherry Fountain 
Tomato, Hugarian Heart
Tomato, Purple Reign
Tomato, Tappy’s Heritage
Curcurbita (Summer Squash):
Summer Squash, “Avocado”
Summer Squash, Center Cut
Curcurbita (Winter Squash):
Pumpkin, Snowball F1
Winter Squash, Crown Prince (c. pepo)
Winter Squash, Squash 898 (experimental)
Winter Squash, Honeynut (hybrid, moschata/maxima)
Winter Squash, Marina di Chioggia (c. maxima)
ASTERACEAE:
Lettuce, Black Seeded Simpson
Lettuce, Little Gem 
Lettuce, Marvel of Four Seasons Butterhead 
Lettuce, Nancy
Lettuce, Parris Island Cos (Romaine)
Lettuce, Prizehead
Lettuce, Winter Density
CHENOPODIACEAE:
Beet, Detroit Golden
Spinach, Aurochs
Spinach, Gigante d’ Inverno 
Swiss Chard, Verde De Taglio
Swiss Chard, Bietola a Costa Fine
Swiss Chard, Bright Lights Mix
Alliums:
Asparagus, Spartacus (from crowns)
Chives, Common
Garlic, Lorz Italian Heirloom (softneck) (from cloves)
Garlic, Music (hardneck) (from cloves)
Garlic, German Extra Hardy (hardneck) (from cloves)
Leek, Lancelot (starts)
Onion, Alisa Craig
Onion, Sierra Blanca F1
Onion, Rossa di Milano
Onion, Yellow of Parma
Onion, Red Long of Tropea
Onion, Stirling (starts)
Onion, Zebrune Shallot 
Umbellifers:
Carrot, Shin Kuroda
Carrot, Sugarsnax 54 (pelleted)
Carrot, Tendersweet
Carrot, Gold Nugget
Carrot, Napoli
Celery, Chinese Pink Cutting
Fruits (bare root or small plants):
Raspberry, Double Gold
Raspberry, Caroline
Strawberry, Sparkle
Blackberry, Prime Ark® Freedom
Blueberry, Patriot (early season, highbush)
Blueberry, Northland (midseason, highbush)
Blueberry,  Jersey (late season; largest species)
Potatoes/Sweet Potatoes (from seed potatoes):
Potatoes, Red Gold
Potatoes, Purple Viking
Potatoes, Russian Banana
Trees/Bushes (Bare root):
Apple, Fuji Dwarf (Reachables, dwarf)
Peach, Contender (Reachables, dwarf)

February and March 2022: The Gardening Frenzy

As often happens in spring, I’m so busy doing the gardening that I don’t have the time or energy to write about the gardening I’m doing. So, here’s a summary of that’s all gone on the last few weeks.

All spring crops and spring flowers have now been sown. I’ve built two new small raised beds close to the back deck which will serve as my greens bed–several types of lettuce, spinach, and chard, as well as leeks and green onions. Herbs have been planted in my smaller greenstalk, also near the back deck. I planted some broccoli seedlings as well, but the snow/hard freeze we had at the end of March killed them off.) I also broke down and ordered some onions starts from Dixondale Farms when my leeks and other onion seedlings did not seem to be faring well; those are all now planted in my large raised beds farther back in the yard. My various onion, leek, and shallot seedlings are still coming along, and will hopefully be ready to plant out later this month.

As for spring flowers, I’ve had a lot of success with my sweet peas and pansies/violas, as well as my lobelia. My snapdragons, not so much. I put a few out before what turned out ot be a hard freeze, and they did not survive. ­čśŽ On to round 2 of sowing snapdragons.

I also ended up purchasing a bunch of tubers/bare root plants, because I was inundated with a million garden catalogues and I only have so much restraint. I received a great looking bunch of purple viking potatoes from Gurney, but they were so fresh and juicy that when I cut them up, they all got very moldy and I had to toss them. Still chitting up are some french fingerling potatoes and red gold potatoes. Still to arrive are two types of raspberry bushes (most of mine died last year, due to some kind of disease); a trio of blueberry bushes; and some thornless blackberry bushes as well. As none of my asparagus seems to have survived the winter, despite growing very well last year, I also had put in another order of asparagus crowns.

I also picked up a new dwarf Fuji apple tree (“Reachables” variety, from Gurney) because I was finally able to find one in stock! The full-size Fuji apple I’ve tended since last spring will go to a friend with a much bigger yard. I also picked up two bare root yellow roses from Costco at $15 or so a pop, which was a great deal. (The red roses I picked up there last year are all thriving.) And my dahlia tubers are all ordered, but not shipped yet as I’m in Zone 5a/b.

Still to sow are my warm weather crops. This weekend I will finally get my tomatoes, peppers, and tomatillos sown. The flowers and all of my curcurbita crops (melons, cucumbers, squash) will get direct sown in May, as they don’t like to have their roots messed with. Also, I only have so much space left in my grown room in the basement!

Spring is definitely here, and I’m swamped. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep up with the blogging this summer, but no promises. Happy gardening!

One Seed Challenge, 2022

One of the things I picked up from Nicole over at Flower Hill Farm is the idea of the One Seed Challenge (#oneseedchallenge). The main idea with this being that, yes, seeds are cheap, and we usually have many more than we could ever use, but it’s easy in the midst of that to lose the value of the seed itself. Any and every seed could be the start of a beautiful or nourishing plant. One seed could, in time, grow a tree strong enough to take down stone walls, or provide the underlying root structure to that could prevent acres of valuable topsoil from blowing away. Seeds, though many, are powerful on their own.

The seed I’m using for this challenge was very generously sent to me from a member of the Flower Hill Farm 2022 Grow-Along FB group. He had a bunch of Floret seeds to pass out, and I received a few Moonstone Aster seeds. I have one planted up now, in the hopes that it will pull through (and not get lost in the hundreds of other seeds I’ll be sowing this spring!) As it is, though I thought I had an almost full packet of aster seeds fromBaker Creek, the packet is missing, so this will be the only aster plant I’m growing this year. The variety–Moonstone–is my favorite color of aster, a dusky lavender. I can’t wait to see it grow!

Seed Sowing, February 2022

Well, this month has almost gotten away with me. I’ve gotten a lot done–the basement greenhouse is finished, and I’ve sown over 50 varieties of plants at last count. I don’t have as much time or energy to blog now that I’m not laid up with a knee surgery. Hopefully this extra mobility will make sowing spring crops much easier!

Here’s what I’ve sown this month:

2/6/22:

Ranunculus, Tomer PurpleLongfield Gardens
Ranunculus, Tomer RedLongfield Gardens
Ranunculus, Tomer WhiteLongfield Gardens

2/8/22:

Poppy, Icelandic–Pastel MeadowsFloret Flowers

2/10/22:

Snapdragon, Madame Butterfly MixedJohnny’s Seeds
Snapdragon, Madame Butterfly B w/ WhiteJohnny’s Seeds
Snapdragon, Night and DayBotanical Interests
Snapdragon, Magic Carpet Blend Botanical Interests
Poppy, Iceland–Pastel MeadowsFloret Flowers
Pepper, Black Pearl (decorative)Botanical Interests
Pepper, Sugar Rush Peach (hot)Baker Creek

2/14/22:

Pansy, Lake of ThunBaker Creek
Pansy, Berna Velvet Blue Baker Creek
Pansy, Swiss Giants Mix Baker Creek
Viola, King Henry Botanical Interests
Viola, Johnny-Jump-Up ViolaBotanical Interests
Viola, Brush Strokes Baker Creek
Viola, Cool Summer BreezeBotanical Interests
Lobelia, Crystal PalaceBotanical Interests
Thyme, GardenSustainable Seeds
Mint, Green Lemon BalmBaker Creek
Mint, CatnipBaker Creek
Cilantro, Slo-BoltMI Gardener
Cilantro, SantoJohnny’s Seeds
Bok Choy, Purple Lady Baker Creek
Cabbage, KalibosBaker Creek
Lettuce, NancyJohnny’s Seeds
Lettuce, Parris Island Cos (Romaine)Baker Creek
Lettuce, Salanova Red ButterJohnny’s Seeds
Spinach, AurochsJohnny’s Seeds
Celery, Chinese Pink CuttingBaker Creek

2/16/22:

Leek, King Richard (organic)Johnny’s Seeds
Onion, Sierra Blanca F1 (white, bulb)Johnny’s Seeds
Onion, Rossa di Milano (red, bulb)Johnny’s Seeds
Lettuce, Winter DensityPinetree Seeds
Broccoli, BurgundyGurney’s Seeds
Gomphrena, Salmon Pastel Baker Creek
Gomphrena, CarmineJohnny’s Seeds
Aster, MoonstoneFloret Flowers

Seed Planning, 2022: What I Learned from Last Year’s Seed Starts

Lat year I started a bunch of seeds. I followed the seed packets to the letter, erring on the side of longer when seed packets gave a range of days. I use my expected last frost date as the first week of May, which, according to both the local weatherman and many online sources, was correct. I didn’t give much extra fertilizer to my starts–in fact, most didn’t get any fertilizer until I planted them out.

That said, I still ended up with a nearly unmanageable jungle of oversized starts in my basement and living room by mid-April. It was a massive hassle up-potting and moving pots in and out doors in May, waiting for that final frost to hit. And then, after the plants were finally outside, at the end of May we had a few days of light frost. Augh!

It was a massive hassle that I am determined to avoid this year. This year I’l planning on a last frost date of May 15, with the reminder that I’m in 5a/b; I have enough time to grow pretty much anything before my first frost date, around early October, sets in.

Things I learned from last year:

Some hot peppers take forever to grow. Like, 12 weeks before they start to put on any significant growth. So, it’s okay to start those early. However, most mild or sweet peppers take about as long as the seed packets state, so 6-8 weeks or so. That said, peppers are EXTREMELY frost sensitive. There’s no point to putting them out until all chance of frost is a distant memory. So this year, I won’t be starting any but my hottest peppers until the beginning of April, at the earliest, with the plan of transplanting my peppers out around early June.

Tomatoes, however, grow really fast. Especially the cherry tomatoes. These were some of my biggest culprits last year. I still have nightmares about them constantly outgrowing their pots. I’m not even going to think about starting these until early April and transplanting them mid-May. (Again, there’s no real rush. I live in 5 a/b. I have a decently long growing season.)

Tomatillos also grow really fast. They are just as bad as the tomatoes, if not worse. I’m not starting them until April. Eggplants, the last of the nightshades I grew, took a while to get going. I put them in the same category with the peppers. If I were growing eggplants this year, I’d start them in early to Mid-March, depending on variety.

Another plant that grows extremely fast is Napa (or Chinese) cabbage. Do not start this one until you have thawed ground and a bed to put it in. When the seed seller says it hits maturity in 60 days, they are not lying.

Some plants I’m not planning on starting at all–I’m just going to wait until the weather is right and sow them in situ. I’ve found that a winter squash sown in plans in May will grow just as fast as a winter squash sown inside in April and them put outside to start hardening off in May. And, if you sow it directly, there’s no need to harden off starts! Other plants that this works well for are peas, beans, nasturtiums, and moonflowers. Essentially, anything with a large seed should work well for this.

Some plants that did not germinate and grow as fast as I’d like are beets, chard, and rutabagas, so I’m going to start these this week, as I like to be able to put out sizable starts. I’m hoping the ground will be thawed by mid-April. I also had no luck with my sweet peas last year, so even though, as peas, they will likely grow quickly, I am starting them early just in case. And as they are a cold-tolerant plant, I should be able to put them out pretty early.

Garden Update, 2/8/22

So far, all of my alliums have germinated–the shallots broke the surfaces the quickest, with the leeks and Alisa Craig bringing up the rear. Also, while I was waiting a good week or so for my root trainers (they got caught up in the massive snowstorm in the East last week), my sweet peas sprouted. The High Scent and Perfume Delight had the best germination–100%. Two days ago, I potted them up into the root trainers and two seeds have already broken the surface as well. The lisianthus, as expected, has not yet made a showing.

This past weekend I also planted my ranunculus–three Tomer varieties from Longfield Gardens. I soaked them for four hours and them planted them into Bootstrap Farmer’s 5″x5″ grow trays, set in the usual 10″x20″ bottom watering trays. I had no luck with my ranunculus last year, so here’s hoping these sprout! I also attempted to plant the snowdrops that I didn’t get around to planting last fall, but the ground is still frozen solid–solid as a rock ­čśŽ Maybe in March.

Next up: snapdragons and some of my slowest-growing hot peppers.

Seed Starting Update 4/12/21

And, finally, a seed starting update. You didn’t think it was all live plants, did you?

(This one will be long. Luckily this blog layout goes to a cut on the main page after a few lines.)

Where did I leave off? Oh yes, March 27th. So, since then, this is what I’ve planted:

Seed starting, 3/30/21:

Tomato, Thornburn’s TerracottaBaker Creek
Tomato, White Tomesol Baker Creek
Tomato, Dad’s SunsetBaker Creek
Tomato, Barry’s Crazy CherryBaker Creek
Pepper, Biquinho Yellow (hot)Baker Creek
Sweet Pea, My NavyBotanical Interests
Sweet Pea, Little SweetheartBotanical Interests
Sweet Pea, Royal BlendBotanical Interests
Dahlia, Caf├ę au LaitSkyfall Flowers
Dahlia, Giant Hybrid MixJohnny’s Seeds

I bought a bunch of orange tomatoes to try, and received a free packet of white tomato seeds as well. Also, technically, the Dahlia was a tuber that I pre-sprouted, not a seed. ANd, another round of sweet peas. They are currently my bane.

Seed starting, 4/2/21:

Purple echinacea (stratified)Sustainable Sprout
Peppermint (stratified)Sustainable Sprout
Valerian (stratified)Tradewinds Fruits
Giant Columbine (stratified)MI Gardener
Lavender, Provence Blue (stratified)Sustainable Sprout
Calendula, Pacific Beauty Mix Baker Creek
Aster, Giant Perfection Mix Baker Creek
Bachelor’s Button, Blue BoyBotanical Interests
Calendula, Pink Surprise Baker Creek
ECHINACEA, Green TwisterSwallowtail Seeds
ECHINACEA, Primadonna Deep RoseSwallowtail Seeds
ECHINACEA, White SwanSwallowtail Seeds
Morning Glory, PurpleWild harvested
Zinnia, California GiantBotanical Interests
Zinnia, Queeny Lime OrangeBotanical Interests
Zinnia, SenoraR H Shumway’s
Pepper, Aurora (hot, decorative)Seed Savers Exchange
Leek, King RichardJohnny’s Seeds
Dianthus, Sweet WilliamPinetree Seeds

One day, I will get those Echinacea seeds to sprout! Perennials are the next frontier, apparently.

Seed starting, 4/3/21:

Sweet Pea, My NavyBotanical Interests
Sweet Pea, Royal BlendBotanical Interests
Sweet Pea, Little SweetheartBotanical Interests
SalanovasJohnny’s Seeds
Basil, Lettuce LeafBaker Creek
several nasturtiumsmisc
Sugar Snap peasJohnny’s Seeds
Bulgarian Giant LeeksBaker Creek

I had just gotten a new order of Sweet Peas in, as my last batch did not take. And it seemed prudent to get some more nasturtiums, leeks, and lettuces started.

Seed starting, 4/4/21:

Pusa CarrotsBaker Creek
Sugar Snax CarrotsJohnny’s Seeds
Dragon CarrotsBaker Creek
Breakfast RadishesBotanical Interests
Yellow TurnipsBaker Creek
Mulberry TreeBaker Creek

Working on getting some carrots planted, and filling the Greenstalk.

Seed starting, 4/5-4/6/21:

Dahlia, Dwarf CactusRH Shumway
Sugar Snap PeasJohnny’s
German ChamomileBotanical interests
Pink HollyhocksBaker Creek
Giant DahliaJohnny’s
Cylindra BeetsJohnny’s
Botlhardy BeetsPinetree Seeds
Ruby Swiss ChardBotanical interests
Lollipop Mix GaillardiaBaker Creek
Hollyhock, NigraTrade Wind Fruit
Pansy, Got the Blues Botanical Interests
Poppy, Amazing GreyBotanical Interests
Poppy, Spring Melody Blend California Botanical Interests
Poppy, Falling In Love Baker Creek
Poppy, Hungarian Blue Breadseed Baker Creek
Rudbeckia, Autumn ColorsPinetree Seeds
Snapdragon, Madame Butterfly MixJohnny’s Seeds
Viola, King Henry Botanical Interests
Dianthus, Sweet WilliamPinetree Seeds
Delphinium, Magic Fountains Sky Blue/WhiteSwallowtail Seeds

Here I was, attempting to get more cold-hardy plants started from seed outdoors. As of yet, none of the flowers have sprouted, so back inside to the heat mat they go.

Seed starting, 4/8/21:

White MalvaPinetree Seeds
African DaisyBaker Creek
Bachelor’s Button, Classic Romantic Botanical Interests
Bergamont, WildBotanical Interests

A small batch of seeds started–Botanical Interests is having a free-shipping deal during all of April, and I couldn’t resist.

Also on 4/8/21, I starting trying my hand at taking cuttings from the bushes in our yard: purple lilac, honeysuckle, and our large quickfire hydrangea. Still waiting to see how these turn out. So far, the honeysuckle cuttings look good while the rest seem just eh.

“Seed” starting, 4/11/21:

A big chunk of my dahlias arrived yesterday, and I spent a few hours pruning and splitting them. I also potted up ‘Melody Pink’ and ‘Great Silence’ in the hopes that I can start taking cuttings off of them. Nothing like a plant that is easy to propagate ­čÖé Makes me feel a little bit better about how much they all cost.

Seed starting today, 4/12/21:

Sweet Pea, My NavyBotanical Interests
Sweet pea, Royal BlendBotanical Interests
Sweet Pea, Bouquet Blend Botanical Interests
Sweet Pea, Knee-Hi Blend Botanical Interests
Sweet Pea, Perfume Delight Botanical Interests

One last attempt at growing sweet peas, again thanks to Botanical Interests.

From now on, I’ll likely just be focusing on live plants and potting up my current seedlings. And the, you know, actual gardening, since I should finally be able to get out and start working in the beds next week.

Seed Sowing, Week of 3/22/21

Another week, another batch of seeds started.

My Swallowtail Seeds order arrived, finally–over 30 days after I ordered it, true, but the website did warn of 5 week delays. So I was finally able to get my Echinaceas planted. My Pinetree Garden Seeds order also arrived, slightly quicker than the Swallowtail Seeds order, and another small order I put in at Johnny’s arrived, all in the same week. So it was a pretty busy week of sowing.

My “Moon Garden” plants are, for the most part, started. I’ll be using the Fleurel dahlia as my centerpiece, with the White Swan echinacea, Snow White malva, Abyssinian Gladiolus (Acidanthera Murielae), and white African daisy in graduated rows leading up to it, and any ranunculus and gladiolus bulbs form my mixes that end up being white, all framed by a moonflower vine. I’ve also got night-blooming jasmine on order, but that’s not set to arrive until late May, so I need to remember to leave some space in the Moon Garden for it as well. All in all, not a bad start for an all- white garden.

Sowing 3/20/21:

Madame Butterfly MixJohnny’s Seeds
Dahlia, Unwins Mix Baker Creek
Dahlia, Redskin Mix Pinetree Seeds
Calendula, Pink Surprise Baker Creek
Calendula, Zeolights Botanical Interests
Lupine, genericJoseph

Sowing 3/24/21:

Amazing Gray PoppyBotanical Interests
Black NasturtiumRH Shumway’s
Peach Melba NasturtiumBotanical Interests
Malva, Snow WhitePinetree Seeds
Rainbow Loveliness Cottage PinksBotanical Interests
Hollyhock, Indian SpringBaker Creek

Sowing 3/26/21:

Dahlia, FleurelDutch Bulbs
ECHINACEA, GREEN TWISTERSwallowtail Seeds
ECHINACEA, WHITE SWANSwallowtail Seeds
SALVIA, ROSE QUEENSwallowtail Seeds
SCABIOSA, FAMA DEEP BLUESwallowtail Seeds
MoonflowerSeed Savers Exchange
Madame Butterfly Bronze w/ WhiteJohnny’s Seeds

Sowing 3/27/21:

Basil, Lettuce LeafBaker Creek
Chamomile, GermanBotanical Interests
Cosmos, Sea ShellsBaker Creek
Swiss Chard, Ruby Red/RhubarbBotanical Interests
Beet, CylindraJohnny’s Seeds
Beet, BolthardyPinetree Garden Seeds
Salanova┬« Green Sweet CrispJohnny’s Seeds
Salanova┬« Home Garden MixJohnny’s Seeds
Delphinium, Sky Blue/WhiteSwallowtail Seeds
Hollyhock, NigraTrade Wind Fruit
Genovese BasilBotanical Interests

The reason I start so many seeds is because 1) seeds are cheap, and I’ve already paid for them; and 2) I like to have variety. I’m not sure if I’ll end up planting all of these seedlings in my garden, but I want to have the option to do so. And despite overspending on seeds this year, it’s still cheaper than buying these plants already started from my local garden center (assuming my local garden center even carried all of these varieties, which is unlikely). But, mostly I just need something gardening-related to do right now while I’m housebound and healing.

So far, everything from the 3/20/21 sowing has germinated, and the Amazing Gray poppy from 3/24 has also germinated (poppies seem to germinate very quickly). I reordered the Madame Butterfly Bronze with White because it turns out that I hadn’t ordered the correct variety earlier–I had ordered a Madame Butterfly mix instead. So I will have a ton of snapdragon seedlings to choose from in about two months.

A note on dahlia bulbs: not all dahlia sellers are equal, apparently. The Fleurel bulb I ordered from DutchBulbs.com (again, very early into my dahlia purchasing) was way overpriced, and the bulb I received was clearly dehydrated, with the outer skin peeling off of most of the bulb. I planted it up in a pot anyway, but as of yet, it doesn’t show any signs of life. To be on the safe side, I ordered another Fleurel from Longfield Gardens, which was cheaper and actually includes three bulbs per order rather than just the one Dutchbulbs.com offers. (Also, the customer service at Longfield Gardens is amazing! Quick to respond and very flexible in rearranging my orders.) Once I get all of the bulbs I ordered and have them planted, I’ll write up a comparison of the five companies from whom I ordered dahlia bulbs.

Seedling Update 3/20/21

Well, another weekend, another round of planting. Plus it looks like I didn’t put last week’s big planting up. So, a lot to cover today.

Planting 3/13/21 (2 each variety of Bootstrap Farmer’s 2″ pots/trays; Pro Mix w/ Mycorrhizae instead of the Black Gold seedling mix):

Pepper, Alma Paprika (hot)Seed Savers Exchange
Pepper, Aurora (hot, decorative)Seed Savers Exchange
Tomatillo, Grande Rio Verde Botanical Interests
Tomatillo, PurpleBaker Creek
Tomato, Barry’s Crazy CherryBaker Creek
Tomato, CarbonBaker Creek
Tomato, Paul RobesonBaker Creek
Tomato, Sun Gold Pole Cherry Botanical Interests
Tomato, Sun Gold Pole Cherry Hirt’s Gardens
MoonflowerSeed Savers Exchange
Nasturitum, Tip Top AlaskanBaker Creek
Sunflower, ValentineSeed Savers Exchange
Eggplant, Listada de GandiaBotanical Interests
Snap Pea, Magnolia BlossomBaker Creek
Daisy, AfricanBaker Creek

So far, all of these have germinated at this point, though the peppers from Seed Savers have only one seedling each, and they only finally poked out their heads yesterday. Oddly, my both of my sets of Moonflower seedlings geminated on the same day, despite being sown two days apart. (I didn’t soak the first set of seeds, and nicked the second set.) And the tomatillo seedling are long and skinny, moreso than most of the rest of the seedlings. Maybe that’s just they way they look? (They look like really sickly tomato seedlings.) And–miracle of miracles!–all of my nasturtium varieties have now germinated, including the Peach Melba which got recycled into my snap pea potting soil. My Sweet Peas are all at least 6″ tall and my snap peas are not far behind. Currently, the peas are sitting on on the deck, getting acclimated.

Today’s sowing 3/20/21 included just one plant: the Madame Butterfly Bronze snapdragons I ordered from Johnny’s, as I just received them yesterday. Such tiny seeds for such a large plant! These are my absolute favorite of all of the snapdragons I’ve seen displayed on videos and seed catalogues: tall, frilly blooms of coppery-peach edged with white.

Finally, the leeks and onions are still not planted. My friend ended up rescheduling to this weekend, which is probably for the best, because we ended up having 3″ of snow! But they are happily sitting in my cool, dark back hall and should be fine.

Hopefully, by April I should be more mobile and able to perambulate my backyard and get a better idea of where I am going to plant all of the things I’ve ordered over the last two months. It’s getting pretty crowded, as I also picked up another dahlia and a 25-mixed bag of caladium bulbs to replace my mom’s tired old hostas around the deck. And a 25-pack of strawberries….

Seedling Update 3/13

I started planting my first seeds two weeks ago, and have been planting more batches every few days as the seed packs indicate. So far it’s going pretty well; about 90% of seeds have germinated and are up and going. I can say this with confidence as I have all of my seeds and this year’s sowings organized in Excel spreadsheets and know exactly how many seeds were planted and when. (I literally had nothing to while the earth was covered in 2′ of snow and waited for my knee to heal this past month.) So I’m possibly better organized with my garden than I’ve ever been with anything, but I know I’ll be grateful for it all when it comes time to plant next year.

Here’s what I’ve planted so far:

Medium: Black Gold seedling mix. All seedlings are planted in 6-pack deep trays or Bootstrap Farmer’s 2″ seed pots. All trays are in 10×20 trays on heating pads with large humidity domes.

2/28/21:

Autumn Colors RudbeckiaPinetree Seeds
Dwarf Cactus DahliaRH Shumway
Redskin Mix DahliaPinetree Seeds
Lobelia (Crystal Palace)Botanical Interests
Sugar Stars PhloxBaker Creek
Rainbow LovelinessBotanical Interests
Pink CarnationsMI Gardener
Arena Red Lisianthus Hirt’s Seeds
Listada de Gandia EggplantBotanical Interests
Lettuce Leaf BasilBaker Creek
Holy BasilTradewinds Fruit
PennyroyalHirt’s Seeds

Of this batch, the Sugar Stars Phlox and the the Lisianthus did not germinate at all. I recycled the phlox and will prob attempt to resow them at some point later this spring. I’m still waiting on the Lisanthus as I know they take forever to germinate.

(Note: when I say I “recycled” a given variety, I’m just recycling the soil, not the actual seed. Yes, I know sometimes the seeds will pop up later on in random places; it’s all good.)

3/1/21:

Peach Melba NasturtiumBotanical Interests
Single Blend Trailing NasturtiumBotanical Interests
Lollipop Mix GaillardiaBaker Creek
Bull’s Blood BeetPinetree Seeds

Of this batch, one lone Trailing Nasturtium germinated and absolutely no other nasturtiums did. I loved growing (and eating) my nasturtiums last year, but I used an Alaska Mix from Ferry Morse (of all companies) and I had to restock. I had no problems with that seed mix, though I noticed that nasturtiums take forever to grow,\ so I knew I needed to start them early. Really sad that these did not germinate. I have the lone trailing nasturtium sitting in my kitchen windowsill and recycled the soil of the rest. The Gaillardia germinated well but I am finding that, once germinated, they are growing really slowly. Or perhaps I’m just impatient. (I ended up eating the beet seedlings; technically they were from a microgreens mix anyway. I’ll plant more outside later.)

3/4/21:

Sugar Snap PeaJohnny’s Seeds
Salanova┬« Green Sweet CrispJohnny’s Seeds
Salanova┬« Home Garden MixJohnny’s Seeds
Wildfire Mix LettuceJohnny’s Seeds
Fenugreek (plant)Johnny’s Seeds

So, I broke down one night after watching way too many “You Can’t Eat The Grass” videos about how much they looooved Johnny’s Salanova lettuces and bought some to try out. (It was slow going as most of the time I tried to buy something from their website, they were closed to home gardeners as they were just trying to get caught up with actual farmer’s orders.) If you’ve never bought from Johnny’s, prepare to deal with some serious sticker shock. Each pack of the Salanova lettuces was around $6 for 25 seeds (which for lettuce seed is outrageous!) However, the Salanovas, at least, are highly researched and trademarked, and apparently last 3x as long in the fridge, taste better than most lettuces, are highly prized by market farmers, etc. I was very careful with my Salanova seeds and only planted two of each kind–they had better have 100% germination at that cost. And so far, they have. The Wildfire mix was on sale; it germinated well but tasted bitter, so they got recycled. The Fenugreek also germinated well and grew extremely quickly as a microgreen, but I also found their taste to be bitter; I saved one so I could grow it as an herb and recycled the rest.

The Snap Peas are off and running and are already 6″ high. I had a ton of trouble with my peas last year–it was so disappointing, as I love snap peas and they are one of the few things I can grow that don’t trigger any of my food intolerances. But now I’m not sure what to do with snap peas that are actually growing the way they should. At the moment, I’ve pinched them off the way you would a Sweet Pea vine; maybe they’ll bush up the way a Sweet Pea does? Who knows? The tops were tasty, though. (If I’ve learned nothing at all from Charles Dowding, I’ve at least learned that you can grow snap peas just for their shoots.)

3/7/21:

Hyssop, Apache SunsetBotanical Interests
Pansy, Got the Blues Botanical Interests
Viola, Johnny-Jump-UpBotanical Interests
Viola, King Henry Botanical Interests
Pepper, Biquinho Yellow (hot)Baker Creek
Pepper, Fish (hot)Baker Creek
Pepper, Pasilla Bajio Chile Chilaca (hot)Botanical Interests
Leek, King RichardBotanical Interests

The pansies, violas, and hyssop have all germinated well and look good. Even my leek seeds have sprouted (I’m trying to get some succession sowing–I have leek starts, and now this batch from seeds.) Also, surprisingly, the Pasilla Bajio pepper popped up already. My (limited) experience with hot peppers is that they take forever to germinate. When I grew Sugar Rush Peach peppers last year, I had healthy seedlings pop up in recycled soil a good two months after I had originally sown them, though my first Sugar Rush peppers only took three weeks or so to germinate, I think. So I’m not worried about the other hot peppers, but I’m a tad worried about the Pasilla Bajio as it’s not going to be warm enough to plant them outside here until at least mid-May. But who knows? Gardening is always a guessing game, imho. I’ve never grown any of these from seed before.

3/8/21:

Sweet Pea, Little SweetheartBotanical Interests
Sweet Pea, My NavyBotanical Interests
Sweet Pea, Royal BlendBotanical Interests

Note: Sweet Peas (the flowering vine) are grown for their flowers only, as all parts of that plant are toxic if ingested. Just FYI.

So, inspired in part by “The Impatient Gardener” videos, and a bunch of other market flower grower videos, I’ve decided to try my hand at growing Sweet Peas. They look very curly and pretty, and apparently many of them smell heavenly. So why not? I gave the seeds an overnight soak, and so far the “Royal Blend” seeds have all sprouted, with the “My Navy” seeds not far behind. (While it’ll be cool to finally grow any pea successfully, it’s just one more crop that needs a trellis, unfortunately. Sigh.)

3/11/21:

WormwoodSeed Savers Exchange
African DaisyBaker Creek
White MarigoldBaker Creek
MoonflowerSeed Savers Exchange
Black Velvet NasturtiumR H Shumway’s
Dwarf Jewel Mix NasturtiumBaker Creek
Tip Top Salmon NasturtiumBaker Creek

These seeds obviously haven’t had a chance to come up yet. I’ve sown a new batch of nasturtiums from different companies in the hopes that these varieties have better germination rates. I have enough seeds to keep resowing them all year if need be. Though I did forget to soak this batch, so that may not help things. Also, moonflower seeds, as I learned after the fact, also need to be soaked or nicked somehow before they are planted, so this batch of moonflowers may not come up at all. But then again, moonflowers are a morning glory, and morning glories want to grow, so who knows?

The wormwood is part of my ongoing plan to create a perennial witchy Victorian-style herb garden, with a wide variety of both culinary and “magical” herbs. Apparently wormwood, like morning glories, want to grow, and will get huge and take over the garden the way a mint or basil would if given a chance. (This seems to be the case with many herbs I’ve seen, actually.) So my herb garden may have to end up being a container garden, like for a Victorian’s solarium, rather than an in-ground English cottage hedge-witch type of garden. Ah, well.

This weekend’s plan is to get the rest of my peppers and all the rest of my nightshades planted. The tomatoes will probably go out to the garden sooner than the peppers; I’ve no idea how the tomatillos will grow, as I’ve never grown tomatillos. I have enough seeds in my collection to keep growing for at least five years, so either way, I’ll get something to grow.