The onions are doing well. The seed leaves have yellowed and then shriveled. They still look like they have quite a ways to go, but they weren't intended to be planted for another month. The leeks on the other hand (on the right, Megaton) are much less vigorous.
Only 2 out of the 7 artichokes I planted (02/14/2016) had germinated. They came up in about a week. They are really small compared to last year, I am not sure what to make of it. I do not think the cotyledons are going to grow any more. I almost immediately transplanted them to solo cups, as I learned last year that they have a large, rapidly growing taproot and need a lot of root space, and in addition they do not transplant well and sulk for a while after transplanting. I planted the rest of the seed I had as a backup and maybe to get more plants and they have not germinated yet.
Yesterday one of the four Numex Suave habaneros I planted (02/14/2016) finally peeked its head out. It took forever, not only for them to germinate, but once the stem started peeking it took many days for the cotyledon leaves to come up above the soil, even with supplemental heat (I had them on a radiator and later got out a heating pad.) Luckily, I only really want one of these guys, but sowed some backup ones just in case.
I am not really happy with the Nature's Care potting mix for seed starting, it did great last year but this year it seems more dense and rich and not good for germinated seeds, it is primarily peat and compost. I went out and bought some of Burpee's Seed Starting mix, which is primarily made with coconut coir, with perlite and very little nutrition. I am hoping for much better luck germinating in this lighter mix.
Below I have some cauliflower seedlings, they also had trouble pushing through the mix. In the front I have started Green Magic broccoli and Hestia brussels sprouts in the new mix. The Hestia sprouts are new this year, and supposedly heat tolerant and I am excited to try for some late Spring sprouts! I will also be starting Quickstart cabbage, but since this sulked last year in cold soil and did great in the summer, I will wait to start them.
Since the weather has been so mild, I also sowed a few Sun King broccoli seeds I bought a couple years ago and have not grown, just to see what happens.
Next week I will sow my sweet peppers. Even in this warm weather it is very bad to rush the heat loving plants. Better to be too late than too soon, or you could wind up with unhappy rootbound transplants. The habaneros and most hot peppers are super slow growing (or so I read, this is my first year growing them), so I am not as concerned.
Hard to believe it is still technically February, and I am out there planting in the garden! The soil froze last night, but tonight it was nice and workable and temps in the 60's.
I started with some spinach, one of the most cold-hardy crops. This was the spot I planted beans in last summer, so the soil should be nice and nitrogen rich for the green leafy spinach. This is an early variety from Johnny's, Space.
Just dumped it nice and liberally in a trench and buried it about 1/2-1" deep (a little extra cover for winter) and mounded it over. With the ground not forecast to freeze in the next few days I am not providing any protection at all.
Next I sneaked some mustard greens in at the end of a row. I just need a couple plants of this.
Then I planted carrots and lettuce in a raised bed. 2 types of carrots (Bolero and Purple Haze, left over seeds from last year), and Burpee bipp and Adriana butterhead.
Beautiful! Since the lettuce and carrots need more warmth both for germination and growth, I decided to cover these with 3.5mil plastic sheeting I am using elsewhere to warm the soil in preparation for the heat-loving eggplant and peppers. I will keep it on until hard freezes are no longer predicted, or temps get too hot, and then I will replace it with agribon/harvestguard if necessary. The hoops were set up with flexible PVC piping. Works great!
So it was 60 degrees today, in mid-February, which is bizarre, but I couldn't help getting out there in my garden for the first time this year. The weather people are predicting a warm Spring here this year and I am eager to really get started.
So this is my garden. It is about 800 square feet.
Those are 6' high metal stakes, with galvanized wire mesh (two layers of 3' mesh). I put that up the first year to keep out the deer. The deer can jump it (they can jump 8 feet or more), but they are both very hesitant to jump into an enclosed space, and they are also very lazy, especially with the abundance of food in the summer. Unfortunately, groundhogs got in last year by digging under the fence and decimated my brassicas, so I had to reinforce it. Chicken wire was added all along the bottom. A 3' roll was used, and about two feet of it is buried just under the ground, bent outwards all along the edge of the garden, and then 1' is spliced with the bottom of the fence. This helps keep groundhogs from digging in and keeps small animals out too. The top is nice and floppy the way it is with the fence posts at 6-8 feet apart on the inside of the garden, and prevents climbers. This type of hardcore fence is a must to have a garden here!!! I got the idea from here. The gate was built by hand with a gate kit and pressure treated lumber hand cut.
So I pulled up all the leftover dead Fall plants, cut the neglected asparagus ferns down, the artichokes (which I will be amazed if they survived even this mild winter -- there were a few brutal lows), pulled a few weeds out of the garlic, and put down plastic sheeting to warm the soil where I will be planting the heat-loving peppers and eggplants, in the sunniest spot I have.
My garlic is looking sad, but no worse than any other wintertime plants in my yard. I have about 70 cloves of Music hardneck garlic I planted in 3 different spots in the Fall, purchased from Big Red Barn. They have not sprouted new growth yet.
I planted artichokes and a super-low-spice habanero Numex Suave Orange (my wife can't eat spicy peppers due to her stomach) 6 days ago, nothing has germinated yet. They are both slow to germinate, and artichokes can be especially fickle. I have them on a shelf above a heater which provides some needed extra heat to get them to germinate.
The onions have sprouted their 2nd true leaf, and the seed leaves have begun yellowing at the tips, which I expect to completely wither away.
So it has been 2 weeks since sowing my first round of onions in tubs, and 1 week since sowing leeks and a second round of onions in seed starting trays. Seems like longer.
So here were the onions this morning:
They were about 5" tall, and following advice I have found on Gardenweb (http://forums.gardenweb.com/discussions/3627591/seed-starting-time), I decided to trim those straggely ends off today.
The trimmings smelled awesome, I will eat them when they get bigger. You can see through the tub the roots have already reached the bottom of the tub. The large tub seems to be working fine, next time I will just stick with that. It does stay moist for many days, but the onions don't seem to mind.
The Megaton Leeks (on the left) sprouted very fast, 4 days or so, and 8 days post sowing the second wave are all coming up like crazy:
The way this winter is going, I am hopeful to get these all in the ground nice and early, before the end of March. Looking forward to starting the artichokes, maybe next weekend.
The onions that were given a haircut basically stopped growing the seed leaf at that time, probably coincidental. They have started growing their first true leaves, but this seems to be going much slower. You can see them at the bottom of the seed leaf if you look closely.
The leeks and onions in the seed starting tray are growing at a similar pace to the tubs.
It has been 3 weeks since the tub onion sowing, and 2 weeks since the trays.
Some of the onions in the tub needed a haircut, but most did not. The seed leaf has definitely stopped growing, probably from when the first true leaves appeared.
The onions in the trays are actually not growing quite as vigorously as the tubs, believe it or not. I will definitely stick with the tubs next year. It is very dry in the house with the heat and I think they prefer the more even moisture the tubs can provide. Now I will have to transplant these seedlings into a clump and that won't be an easy task. I am waiting another week. The picture below of the seed starting tray has the same age seedlings as the first tub pictures above. The leeks (on the left) are also less vigorous than the onions, despite germinating sooner.
About this site
My name is Peter and I am a gardener in the Lower Hudson Valley. This is my third year growing a very large garden, from seed. This is my journal.