|2012 seedlings, before thinning|
I had good germination this year (85% on average), using a heat mat to help get the tomatoes, basil, peppers and eggplant started. After cooking the first batch of Brandywine tomato seedlings, I realized I need to be much more careful about moving the seedlings off the mat sooner. Of the varieties that didn't do too well -- Jimmy Nardello peppers (2 out of 7 pods), cinnamon basil (3 out of 9 pods), for example, were from older seeds, so that's not too surprising.
I decided with this year's garden to grow more of less; put differently, more quantity of food from fewer crops/varieties. So, as an example, I took brassicas off the list (no broccoli or brussel sprouts) and only four varieties of tomatoes (not 18, like I did my first year). Last year's food garden totally got away on me (we're talking invasive weeds, horrible insects and rampaging deer) and as I'm still on a steep self-taught learning curve (mountain), I want to keep this year's garden manageable.
So, taking a peek under the lights, there are:
Tomatoes: Brandywine, Amish Paste, Isis Candy (new), Baxter Bush (new)
Peppers: Bull Nose, Early Cal Wonder, Jimmy Nardello
Onions: Evergreen Bunching (already have some in coldframes, and will direct seed more this weekend, plus plant some yellow and red sets)
Kale: Red Russian
Swiss Chard: Bright Lights (have some in the coldframe -- will move outside this weekend as looking leggy and droopy inside)
Basil: Cinnamon, Lime and Italian Large leaf
Parsley: Single hardy Italian
Plus some sunflowers (doing beautifully), zinnias (doing beautifully until the cat nipped the tops off of half) and marigolds (the first batch was a total bust -- 1 out of 25 germinated, so I've started a second tray with new seed).
This weekend I'll be starting my cukes (National Pickling & Mexican Sour Gherkin (new)) and winter squash (Butternut, Buttercup and/or Acorn), and maybe some summer squash (Cocozelle zucchini (new) & pumpkins (Small Sugar & Connecticut Field).
I'll also be direct seeding some peas (Tom Thumb (new) and maybe some Sutton's Harbinger), turnips as companions (Early Snowball (new)), carrots (Danvers 126 & Nantes Coreless) and beets (mixed heirloom) and whatever else strikes my fancy! I'll also top up the coldframes with more lettuce, spinach, radishes, etc.
The traditional 'planting out' day for frost-sensitive plants in my zone is May '2-4' weekend (aka Victoria Day weekend), which this year is May 19 to 21st -- or approximately three weeks from now. I originally thought I may get out sooner, but we were hit with frosty sub-zero temps last night so despite our March 'heat wave,' I think I'll just stick to tradition.
So on the planting out weekend, I'll direct seed lots of beans (Kentucky Wonder Pole, Contender Snap bean (new), Blue Lake bush (new) and maybe some rare heirlooms that I'll write about later), some heirloom corn (Mandan Bride) and four different kinds of organic seed potatoes that I got from a farmer friend. So exciting! The tomatoes, cukes and peppers will move into the yet-to-be-covered-in-plastic-because-the-weather-has-been-crappy greenhouse.
I'll also be seeding more flowers as companions (California poppies, nasturtiums, more sunflowers, to name just a few) and then there are the yet-to-be-ordered starter plants for the new herb garden. And then there's the plants for the bee garden and... and...
Hey, wait a minute... so much for not getting in over my head this season!