1/28/13

Starting the Gardening Year

I started seeds last week for a few of the slow growing vegetables and herbs I want in my garden this year. Remember, I am in Zone 7, so I can plant tomatoes outdoors safely by our average last frost date of April 10th. Of course, my garden season runs year-round here, and right now I have a choice every day of picking collards, kale, spinach, chard, pea leaves, beet greens, and scallions. To review my process for starting seedlings, read my post from last February. By the way, the two seed catalogs illustrated here are my favorites. I highly recommend you send for the Baker Creek printed catalog - the varieties, the photos, and the stories about where the seeds come from are amazing.

This has been an unusually warm winter. In fact, I spotted my first crocus flowering today in one of the rock gardens, and my lenten roses (hellebores) are in bloom. But it's also been wet, with rain every few days, it seems. So there's no telling exactly when I'll be able to plant directly in the garden. Meanwhile, these seeds are now warm and wet and hopefully will germinate soon:

TOMATOES - I'm diverting from my allegiance to heirloom seeds in this category, due to my ongoing battle with blight. I bought some hybrid tomato seeds called "Iron Lady" from High Mowing Seeds, which are described as early- and late-blight resistant. I want to get my own good harvest of tomatoes, which I've missed out on during the last couple of years. I'm also trying a second variety from the same company, called "Matt's Wild Cherry Tomatoes".

PEPPERS - I've started 3 varieties, all of which I have grown in past gardens and enjoyed:  Jalapeno, Marconi, Albino Bullnose

PARSLEY - curly and flat, both of which I use abundantly, particular in tabbouli.

STEVIA - in case mine doesn't come back from last year

Garden HUCKLEBERRY - I grew these blue berries in the garden 2 years ago and enjoyed cooking them into a sauce, similar in taste to blueberries. Except for a bug eating the leaves, they were easy to grow and produced continuously all summer. Read more about them here.

QUINOA - I cook quinoa grain and decided to experiment this year and try growing my own. This variety comes from Baker Creek and it is called "Cherry Vanilla Quinoa" because of its big bi-color flower. The plant's leaves and seeds are edible. My climate might be too hot, but I hope, at the very least, that I get pretty flowers and leaves for my green smoothies.

PANSY - Just for fun, I'm starting some Giant Swiss Pansies. They are so lovely, flower abundantly before the weather turns hot, and the flowers are edible.

I'll be starting more seedlings indoors next month and I'll keep you posted on my varieties. Get some seeds going yourself!