A Little Ray of Sunshine

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Spring Planting

I am planting. Not outside, of course, that won't happen for another two months or so. I am starting all my seeds that need a longer growing season than we have here, though. Last year I used the little peat pellets that expand when you put them in water. After two months, the plants were long and leggy with poor root systems. So this year I am trying seed starting soil in 4" pots. Hopefully I will get better root systems this way.
Yesterday I planted until I ran out of pots. Then I called up my Dad, and asked him if he could find me some more in my parents' garage. He thought he could, and this morning Mom showed up with a bagful. Dad's new pacemaker is triggering his heartbeats 97% of the time, and the result is he's feeling a lot better. His brain still isn't as sharp as it used to be, but it hasn't been since he had the bypass surgery five years ago. It's still sharp enough to drive his tongue! So I've been bugging Dad lately about whatever I can think of that he might have input on. I think it's good for him. He likes to have a pity party and feel sorry for himself, and if I treat him normally (or close to), then he can't justify the "Poor me" line so easily.
I've planted two varieties of tomatos, hot peppers, tomatillos, okra, Armenian cucumbers, pumpkins, Kabocha squash, and cantaloupes. I still need to plant the sweet peppers and the eggplant. I think. I've got it all written down, but I'm going from memory here, and my memory is always lousey when I'm pregnant. What's my name again?
One of the tomatos, the Pruden's Purple, is an heirloom. My other tomato is a hybred plum. The difference between the Pruden's seeds and the plum's seeds was quite remarkable. The Pruden's seeds were brown (earth colored) and smooth. The plum had fuzzy white seeds. The plum seeds were easier to see and to hold on to. The Pruden's seeds seemed difficult, until I got to the Tomatillo. The Tomatillo (a relative of the tomato, for those who don't know, the fruits grow in little 'paper lanterns' and are pretty, they are green when ripe and good for salsa) has seeds shaped like a tomato, but perhaps an eighth the size, and just as brown and smooth as the Pruden's. I did get them all planted, and I'm pretty pleased with that.
We're trying an okra, it's a short-season okra, and it might grow here. My husband loves okra, so if it does well, I'll plant a bunch next year. But for this year, I'm just doing one plant. The okra seeds looked very strange after planting the others. They are little round green balls. Hard to hold onto, but not as hard as the Tomatillo.
When I'm done, I will have forty-two pots of seeds. I'm starting to run out of window space already, and I've still got ten to go. The soil I'm using smells just yummy, so I hope the plants will grow as well as the soil smells like they should.
Some of the plants will go into pots on the front porch instead of the garden. A few tomatos, a pepper or two. We'll see how they do there. If they grow well all summer I'll bring them inside in the fall. Mom used to keep cherry tomatos on the south windowsils all winter, and we'd get a few tomatos each week. They have to be hand fertilized when they're inside. I don't buy fresh tomatos in the winter, except for special occasions, so any would be more than we get now. I've also got some cabbage family plants (cabbage, brocoli, Napa cabbage) to grow inside next fall: the aphids are terrible on them outside here, and I don't like pesticides around the children.
Of course, the pickling cucumbers, the beets, the carrots and parsnips, the beans, peas, corn, zucchini, lettuce, spinach will all be planted straight in the ground. They all have less than a 50 day growing season, or can germinate (corn) or grow (parsnips) in cold soils. I'm going to get some Jerusalem Artichokes from my folks, they're a tuber crop from the sunflower family, and should work quite well to hide the neighbors. They grow six or seven feet tall easily, and even flower. I don't care for the taste, but I understand that they are one of the few crops that still produced back in the Year without a Summer. I remember that they are recommended as a carbohydrate for diabetics, but cannot recall why. They'll make an excellent screen, with a secondary use if we should ever need it.
We're planning on adding a Reliance Peach tree to the yard, and possibly ordering some grapes for the back (west) fence next summer. When we're all done, we should have a nice, private, productive yard. Private is a key word in this neighborhood, where the homes are so close together, and I can't wait until we can finish fencing it to keep the feral children out.
Oh, and my tulips are coming up! I'm quite excited. Even snow Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday didn't discourage them. It looks like the little basswood tree we transplanted last fall may have survived, too, at least, its buds look like they're swelling from the window.


  • At 9:42 PM, March 22, 2006, Blogger CrazyJo said…

    I just love spring! You've got me wishing for some earth of my own and some seeds to grow in it.
    Have you ever read The Secret Garden?
    "Please, may I have a spot of earth?"

  • At 10:51 PM, March 22, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I got an email confirming they shipped out our seed order today. Good times.

    How do you get your okra to trun out? Same with the tomatillos?

    I haven't had much luck with either here.

    Res Ipsa

  • At 2:11 PM, March 23, 2006, Blogger BoysMom said…

    This is the first time I've grown okra. One of the seeds has sprouted already in that pot: I was quite surprised. (Two days after planting.)
    My folks grew tomatillos a couple years when I was a child and never had any trouble with them. The big thing seems to be to get a short season variety and start indoors to get a jump on the season. I got our seeds from Johnny's this year. I've got a variety that says 60 days to maturity, but it'll be growing inside for two months before I put it out.
    My parents have altered their garden soil quite a lot. Mostly rabbit manure, some goat, some chicken. So their soil is not at all typical for this area, not the clay stuff that is usually around here. They have about two feet of good soil in the garden. I don't know how much this would have affected the tomatillos.
    Joelle, I've practicly memorized The Secret Garden over the years. You should go get yourself a pot and some pansies for it. It's a huge mood pickerupper, and they'll live nicely on a windowsil inside or wherever. Cheap therapy is what I told my husband.

  • At 12:18 PM, March 24, 2006, Anonymous Res Ipsa said…

    We've been improving our soil for several years and its alot better.

    The problem with okra, at least here seems to be that it needs soil temp to stay in the 80's to get a good crop. The last time I got any 1 plant came up and we got 3 pods off of it.

  • At 11:38 AM, March 27, 2006, Blogger BoysMom said…

    Res, thanks for the heads-up. I see black soil cloth in the future! I did get all three to sprout: on the desk in the south-facing window next to the computer monitor, the hottest spot in the house.


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