Archive for the 'Seeds' Category



Growing a Valentine strawberry

Valentine Grow Kit

Although Valentine’s Day has come and gone, it seems appropriate to tell you about a littleDirt disc indoor plant experiment I have going on right now. At Christmas, my former roommate Susan, who has managed to locate the world’s greatest gardening gifts ever since I started this blog, sent me a terrific gift that I will unveil to you patient blog readers when the season for actual gardening comes around.

But in the meantime, there was a smaller, more immediate part of the Christmas gift: A small “Valentine” kit, with a teeny-tiny pot, little strawberry seeds and the growing medium to plant them in.

I haven’t had much luck with strawberry The enlarged pelletplants outdoors, but thought it would be cool to try the kit indoors just to see what will happen. Susan and I coordinated by email: we would both plant our kits on January 21, mine here in Iowa on my chilly windowsill, and hers at her new house.

The growing medium arrives as a flat disc that requires a little water to expand out to a thick cylinder. It’s sort of like sea monkey dirt: you add water and the fun Valentine potbegins.

I planted the seeds and put my pot up on the kitchen sill, and but for a couple of days, have managed to remember to open the shade so the thing has some sunlight. It’s watery, often-snowy sunlight, but it still has to be healthier than the gloom in my kitchen without the shift in shades.

So far, nothing has broken the surface of the dirt, and I’m trying to take a lesson from the aloe and not water it every single day. We’ll see how it goes—even if I don’t end up with a ripe strawberry, it would be nice to see something green rise up from the dirt.

Seed order: unplaced

Snowy walk“Have you figured out what you’re planting yet?” asked Betsy’s husband during dinner tonight. We had escaped into the Old Capitol Brew Works for the only thing that, tonight, would really take the edge off the weather: a burger, fries and a beer.

“No,” I sputtered. “I haven’t even really thought about it.”

I talk a big game about the whole seed catalog thing, but the fact of the matter is that I’m having a tough time wrapping my head around the fact that it’s ever going to be spring again. I’m back in it, just like I was last year, whining all the time about the weather and obsessively checking my Motorola Q to see if another Emergency Email Network message has arrived, bringing news about the next life-threatening cold temperatures or travel hazard-creating snowfall.

So, no. I have not ordered anything. I flipped through my SeedSavers catalog about six to thirty-two times right after it came, and then Bikes in snowset it aside, certain that I’d have plenty of time to deal with it later.

I know I have to place an order soon, but it feels very odd to think of working the dirt when there is a layer of snow at least a foot thick between me and the garden. That photo of the bikes? That’s my neighbors’ yard, but you get the idea, right? That’s how it is in my yard, too.

Glimmer of hope

2008 Seed Savers Exchange CatalogOn one day last week, I came home and had the 2008 Seed Savers Catalog waiting in the mail. I know it’s a long time until actual planting season, but the catalog itself is just a little glimmer of hope.

A glimmer of hope I needed to keep in front of me, because the very next day, my garden turned into a sea of white, and has remained in such a state ever since.

We’ve been fighting icy conditions around here for days, Snowy back yardand while I know there’s a break in the weather coming up shortly, I’m finding it easier to cope if I spend at least a little time every day flipping through the catalog pages and imagining what I could put in if my garden was at least eight to ten sizes bigger than it is.

Oh, tomatoes. Oh, lovely lettuces. Oh, watermelons that look like a starry night sky. A warm starry night sky. When you can wear shorts. Shorts, that is, without a pair of long johns and then a pair of jeans on top of them.

Seed Savers’ Fall Harvest Celebration

I keep meaning to get up to Decorah—a field trip to Seed Savers’ Heritage Farm has been on my list of things to do since I started gardening, and here has gone another season, and I never made it up there.

Hmm. I sense the start of a 2008 Resolutions list.

So it was with great regret that I got an email from the Seed Savers folks earlier this month announcing their Fall Harvest Celebration. Half-price seed packets. Squash and apple recipe tasting. Pumpking carving. A garlic planting lesson.

You’re killing, me, Seed Savers! Because I cannot make it to the party this year.

But if you’re a reader within reach of Decorah, you just might be able to go. The event will take place Saturday, October 20 from 1 to 4 p.m. More details are available on the Seed Savers site, and if any of you attend the festival, please stop by and leave a comment to let me know how it was!

A murder of peas, a birth of beans

The rabbits have committed many sins this summer. Many, many sins. And I’m not talking about the two that chase each other around the yard with gleams in their eyes.

Among the sins committed includes murder. A murder of peas. All of them. I planted little pea seeds, I implemented a rudimentary trellising system (granted, it involved tomato cages, but the vegetables could not possibly know what is what when it comes to trellises, and the rabbits certainly don’t care…), and I ended up with nothing. A few pea blossoms, of course, but not any actual peas.

But I’m not bitter. Really. Not. Not. Not. Bitter. Who needs fresh peas out of the garden, really? Who needs a truly miraculous treat? No, not me. Not unbitter me.

Baby beansSo now I’m trying beans. And they’re incredibly cute when they come up, all furled and curly, and then they stretch their way up toward the sky.

I decided to just grow some pretty standard bush beans, and I probably planted them too close together and didn’t water them enough, and I also planted them the same day that I ripped out the spinach and lettuce, which was a day when we got more rain in 24 hours than we have practically all year, so I’m probably pretty lucky that all the seeds didn’t just wash away.

But so far, so good. The beans are born, and are rapidly heading toward adolescence. I’d rather, after all, have an adolescent, cranky bean than the stumpy dead pea plants I ended up with at the end of my earlier experiment.


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