Our 2023 garden: last seed starts!

First, something pretty!

There are quite a few crocus buds popping up, and we’re also seeing lots of grape hyacinth greens emerging! Too early for the flower stalks to start forming, but the leaves come up in distinct little clusters that are easy to identify, compared to the grass and weeds that are in the same area. I’m looking forward to when the crocuses and hyacinths spread enough to start choking out the weeds and grass where they’ve been planted!

Last night, I started hydrating the seed trays with the Jiffy pellets, then headed into town this morning to pick up some more seed starting mix for the other tray.

There wasn’t any.

I tried a few places and found lots of potting mix, but no seed starting mix. I wasn’t willing to drive to another town, so I ended up getting more of the small trays with Jiffy Pellets in them. I did pick up a few bags of manure, though. Two of composted cow’s manure with peat, and two more of composted sheep’s manure with compost. These will be good for top dressing some of the beds, and for the trees we’ll be transplanting when they come in next week.

When I got home, I first had to start new trays hydrating, then I could work on the ones that were ready.

I had 5 trays, each with 12 pellets in them. I decided to do two different seeds in each tray, for a total of 20 new seed starts. Hopefully, we’ll have a nice, high germination rate, since each pellet got only one seed each.

These are what I chose for the first batch.

For melons, I’ve got the Sarah’s Choice, a new variety, Halona and Pixie, which we’ve successfully grown two years ago, and Cream of Saskatchewan watermelon, also new. Our attempt to grow melons last year was a complete failure, due to flooding. There are the two types of cucumber; Lemon, which we got as a freebie, and Eureka, a dual purpose variety for both fresh eating and canning. Then there are the winter squash: Pink Banana, North Georgia Candy Roaster, Honeyboat Delicata and Little Gem (Red Kuri). We tried the Candy Roaster last year, but they got drowned out. This will be our third year growing the Red Kuri squash, which survived last year because we planted them in a completely different location. I thought I’d ordered a new packet of those, but couldn’t find it. I ended up finishing off the few seeds in this older packet, then used seeds we’d saved ourselves from the first year we grew them.

I rearranged things a bit in the sun room to make room for these on the makeshift table. Later on, I’ll move the mini-greenhouse frame to the sun room to have more space for the trays.

As for the second batch, it will have:

The three varieties of hulless pumpkins, Kakai, Lady Godiva and Styrian, that we also grew last year. We’ve been slowly going through the ones we harvested last year – yes, we still have some! – but I lost track of two varieties that looked alike, so I haven’t been able to keep track of which seeds we like best. There is more winter squash: Red Warty Thing is new, while Boston Marrow and Winter Sweet were among those that got drowned out last year, though the Boston Marrow did start to recover somewhat. I’ve got more gourds, too. We started the Canteen gourd too early last year, and they were starting to bloom before we could transplant them, so they are being started later this year. Hopefully, they will actually get a chance to produce fruit this year. The Yakteen gourd transplants got killed off along with the melons, during our terrible, no-good growing year last year, and I hope to be able to actually try some this year. The Ozark Nest Egg and Apple gourds seemed to do well last year. We still have some Ozark Nest Egg gourds curing. The Apple gourds actually recovered rather well from the terrible conditions the squash were all hit with last year, and were producing quite a lot of gourds, but it was too late in the season by then. We were hit by frost before they could fully mature. I’m hoping we’ll have a better year this year.

I was tempted, but decided against growing the Tennessee Dancing gourd again this year. They are fun and do well, but we just have too many things going – and that’s not even considering what needs to be direct sown!

The new trays are being hydrated now. I’ve got another 5 going, though I have a spare available to hydrate, just in case. Hopefully, I’ll be able to plant into them tonight, and things can be moved into the sun room right away.

Once the last seeds are started, it’s back to working outside! I’ve still got the one last bed to work on in the old kitchen garden, then we need to build at least one trellis tunnel, with the raised beds that will be part of it, and prepare existing beds for planting, as well as grow bags for the potatoes, and containers for things like the lemongrass, some of the peppers and probably the eggplant as well.

Lots to do, and just a few weeks left to do them!

I’m so happy being able to get outside and get work done again!

The Re-Farmer


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