Monday, March 29, 2010

Yesterday, March 28, I moved the tomato and hollyhock seedlings to the greenhouse. On sunny days, it's warmer in there than in my house. On dreary days, not so much. But they'll sit on heating mats under florescent lights until the time comes for planting.

No action from peppers and other flowers. Once again, I suspect old seeds may be the problem.

I also planted lettuce in my hydroponic growing system. Pics to come if/when something grows.

Weather report: Steady rain, 49 degrees.

Sprout report: Garlic and peonies are pushing through. Lots of buds on the peach tree.

Sap report: We visited a sugarmaker over the weekend who said he expects to make about 2/3 the syrup he made last year.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Seed Soaking

The seed soaking process is a keeper. Seven hollyhocks and 23 tomatoes seeds have responded beautifully to soaking and planting. The hollyhocks took about four days to sprout; the tomatoes, six or so. I started the seeds indoors on March 7, and I'll be moving the sprouts to heated mats in the greenhouse in the next couple of days.

No luck (yet) with peppers, columbine, morning glory, and coleus. I usually don't have much luck with these seeds though, so no surprises here.

Another benefit of seed soaking: Many of my seeds packets I've had around the house for who knows how long. During the soak, about three cups of seeds turned to mush--a solid clue that the seeds were old...

Our March has been a mild one. Maple sap has been running strong for a couple weeks now. Day temps are inching up into the upper 40s and 50s. (Will wore shorts to school today.) Night temps aren't quite cold enough to make the syrup farmers ecstatic, but I think they're still having a stellar season.

Husband let the hens out of their coop yesterday for the first time in 2010. They seemed pretty happy pecking around the yard, and even found their favorite dirt hole--dry--near the woods in which to take a bath. I think three chicks are in the plan this spring.

Finally, this morning, I tossed two greenhouse mags in the recycle bin, reminding myself that I just don't need any new plants. Except for maybe a cherry tree, a weeping something or 'nother, or a Japanese maple (if I can find one for Zone 4).

Happy spring! Still waiting to see a robin!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Spring Planning

Seed catalogs are piling up on my desk, waiting to be circled and tagged. The greenhouse is covered in a layer of snow this morning, waiting for a few hours of sunlight. And I'm buried in scarves for Special Olympians, the big spring school fundraiser, another day off school for the kids, and any number of other things that distract me from spring planning.

Next weekend. That's when it will start to happen. March 6 is tax-free day in Vermont, so I'm planning to order apple trees from a local nursery during their pre-season sale. I'm also determined to see if I can grow those apples without pesticides. A tall order, from what I understand about apple growing.

While I'm at the nursery, I will pick up a bag of growing medium in which to start my seeds. Last year, I had good luck sprouting tomatoes, but no luck with flowers or peppers. This year, I'm going to add a new step to the process: soaking the seeds. In a "Starting From Seed" special edition magazine by the publisher of Fine Gardening, an article claims that a "good overnight soaking is all many seeds need to begin growing." I've never done this, but it makes complete sense; gives the seeds a little embryonic push. No longer than 24 hours, though, or the seeds may rot, advises the author.

So from a snowy place, where 30-degree days and the trusty calendar are promising the spring that will come, I diligently begin another Zone 4 season...