The Urge to Tame

snowsideyardvegetablegarden17feb2017

Well, there’s a foot or two of snow on the ground here, but it’s time to order seedlings! I sent in my order yesterday to a new place (for me), Good Earth Farm in Weare, NH (I’ve never even been to Weare. Where? Weare.)

pretty beet seed packet
pretty beet seed packet

This year, in a break from past planting seasons, I’ve decided to go with seedlings almost exclusively, and eschew seeds almost completely. I have always had a lot of trouble planting seeds but persisted because a. their packets are so appealing, b. they seem like a good value, c. there are so many varieties of seeds.

nasturtium seeds planted and marked
nasturtium seeds planted and marked

But because I plant vegetables, herbs, and annual flowers not only in rows in a sort-of-dedicated vegetable garden (that also has perennials and annual flowers in it), but also among perennials, bulbs, and shrubs, I tend to lose track of where the seeds are entirely — even when I take photos of them in their planted spots — or if I plant them “as soon as the ground can be worked,” as is often advised, I’d learn a month or two later that some ninja perennial had leafed out, spread out, and otherwise completely (and literally) overshadowed the little seeds, which only wanted sun + water to survive. I just could not keep track of the little rascals.

seeds in vegetable bed
seeds in vegetable bed

Even in the vegetable bed, except for large seeds like green beans and peas (I love you, legume seeds), I felt the soil was too coarse to really plant them well. I’d scatter and then have to thin 90% of the seeds, which ended up feeling tragic and seeming a waste of money, time, and life force rather than a good value.

probably the only seeds I'll be planting this year
probably the only seeds I’ll be planting this year

So. This year — other than for peas — it’s seedlings all the way, little plants that I can see from the get-go.

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Here’s what I ordered from Good Earth Farm, and will pick up in late May to plant in my yard by early June:

Perennials
3 4″ pots organic ‘Cheyenne Spirit’ echinacea – red, orange, purple, yellow, or white! (from Johnny’s Seeds)

Annuals
2 4″ pots Chocolate Covered Cherry’ coleus – “rose and mahogany leaves” (Harris Seeds)
1 six-pack organic ‘Standard Mix’ Bachelor Button – pink, blue, violet, white
1 six-pack organic ‘Alpha’ Calendula – orange
1 six-pack ‘New Day Formula Mix’ Gazania (I love this annual!) – bronze, orange, yellow, white
1 six-pack ‘Vanilla’ Marigold – white/cream
1 six-pack organic ‘Jewel Mix’ Nasturtium – red, orange, yellow
1 six-pack ‘Lime’  Benary’s Giant Zinnia — three feet tall!
1 six-pack ‘Queen Red Lime’ Zinnia – pink/burgundy petals with lime centre
1 six-pack ‘Benary’s Giant Mix’ Zinnia
(I do love zinnias)

Herbs – all organic, grown from either Johnny’s Seeds or Fedco, except the thyme, from High Mowing Seeds
4 4″ pots organic Arugula
2 4″ pots organic ‘Bouquet’ Dill
3 4″ pots organic Thyme
1 six-pack organic ‘Aroma 2’ (organic classic Genovese) green Basil
1 six-pack organic ‘Giant of Italy’ flat Parsley

Vegetables – all grown from Johnny’s, Fedco, or High Mowing Seeds
1 six-pack organic ‘Provider’ bush Beans
1 six-pack ‘Diva’ Cucumber
1 six-pack organic ‘Marketmore’ Cucumber
1 six-pack organic romaine mix (‘Jericho’ green and ‘Marshall’ red) Lettuce
1 six pack organix ‘Yellow Crookneck’ Summer Squash
1 six-pack ‘Bright Lights’ Swiss Chard
4 4″ pots ‘New Ace’ red Bell Pepper
2 4″ pots ‘Sun Gold’ gold cherry Tomatoes
2 4″ pots ‘Tomatoberry Garden’ red cherry Tomatoes
2 4″ pots ‘Honey Bunch Red Grape’ grape Tomatoes

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The tips for choosing, planting, and caring for vegetables on Good Earth’s website are very useful for me. For example, although I know cucumbers and tomatoes like warm soil, I didn’t realise I should water them both with warm water, at least the first week, and probably delay planting the cuke seedlings until the 1st or 2nd week of June, when night temperatures are warmer. Makes sense; I just never thought of it. And now I know not to put straw around the tomatoes right away, when the soil is cold, because straw reflects some of that hard-to-come-by spring sunlight and warmth; I should wait until the end of June or start of July to apply the straw.

green bean seedlings
green bean seedlings

I also learned not to separate the bean seedlings, which will be planted 2 or 3 to each cell in the six-pack, because that would disturb their roots, but rather I should plant them as a cell clump and leave 4″ between the clumps. Probably this root disturbance is an issue with other seedlings planted more than one plant in a cell and may be the reason for some past transplant failures.

I’m looking forward to meeting my new plants in three months and tucking them into the soil here, confident that I will be able to find them again. Photos of the seedlings in situ coming in June!

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“But each spring…a gardening instinct, sure as the sap rising in the trees, stirs within us. We look about and decide to tame another little bit of ground.” — Lewis Gantt

5 Comments on “The Urge to Tame

  1. Sounds like you’ve got a good plan! I don’t really enjoy the seed part of the process – a lot of faffing around and heartbreak. My soil is too solid for most seeds, so I need to sow elsewhere…. something I need to start doing if I am going to have any vegetables this year 😉.

    Anyway, enjoy you seed free months 😃

    • When you say “sow elsewhere,” do you mean start seeds yourself inside, or sow seeds outside in a community garden, or ? I did seed-starting inside for 4 or 5 years but without special lights and added heat, most did not grow well, and I never wanted to add grow lights, heating pads, etc. Coupled with the reality that we often go away for long weekends or even weeks at a time from March to May — when seed watering really has to happen every day — I’ve made the calculation that it’s best to let someone else handle that aspect of my gardening 😉

  2. ‘Elsewhere’ means in pots with compost. Then they seedlings have a better chance, once they’ve got a reasonable root structure.

    I wouldn’t want grow lights etc either.

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