Sunday, February 10, 2013

Up the Garden Ramp

OK, Phases 2 and 3 are complete. Phase One was selecting, ordering and receiving the seeds. Phase 2 was acquiring all the stuff and making a big batch of my special seed starting mix. Phase three was washing and sorting and prepping all the seed starting trays and 9 packs left over from last year. Phase 4 will be filling all of phase 3 with phase 2. The next phases will, of course, be to start getting some seeds going. First will be the slower growing peppers, eggplant and such followed by the tomatoes. Dropped some of the heirlooms from last year as they really didn't do well. I will stick with the Cherokee Purple, Rutgers, Moonglow and a couple of others. Main season this year will be Better Boy and Celebrity. The Better Boy produces a tastier tomato than the Celebrity but suffers a little from cracking if we get too much rain and while the Celebrity is a fine tomato it doesn't seem to crack when the weather doesn't cooperate. If the weather is close to ideal then the tastiest of the red tomatoes will be the old standby Rutgers. Taste wise the Cherokee is the winner but it is usually not a very attractive specimen. I have another day off tomorrow so I should get all the trays filled at least though I am not so sure I will be able to get any seeds going. My goal is to have them going by 2/15 so I have a few days. The tomato target is the first week of March. I got started a wee bit early last year and the tomatoes were a little overgrown and leggy by the time they were ready for the garden in early April.

One little disappointment arrived with the last seed order from Southern States (the only place I found seed for the Dixie Butter Pea. They came coated with Thiram which is an anti-fungal. Now I have to decide whether I lower my standards when it comes to chemicals in the garden and plant them. The ad in the online catalog didn't mention that the seed was treated but I should have suspected it. A lot of the big ag seed suppliers treat peas, beans and corn with Thiram  as well as squash and melon seed. I will probably just wash the seeds very well and go for it. The chemical coating, as minute as it is, will go down the drain and not wind up in the garden. No tests or reports I can find has shown that Thiram shows up in the endosperm of the plant anyway so it won't show up in the fruit regardless.

Anyhow, February is the time to start the march up the long hill to harvest and we are a few steps along. Won't be long before the first seeds are germinating.

I have mentioned it before but you don't really need to spend big bucks on "special seed starting mix" and the local garden store. It is much cheaper to mix your own. It is really simple. I make it from 2 cubic feet of compressed sphagnum peat moss mixed with 2 cubic feat of vermiculite and 1 cubic foot of earthworm castings. Works for me.

No comments: