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Starting the new growing season!

 
Posts: 67
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Yay! For those of us on the northern hemisphere, spring is nearing... We feel it here. About a week ago, we had a cold spell with temps as low as -12 Celsius and snow across large parts of the country. Within two days, all the ice and snow has melted and this week we were in the 10's (C), and from tomorrow we'll be getting a blistering 17 to 20 degrees Celsius. While this is not an unambiguous reason for celebrating, as long term average temps should be around 5 Celsius and every year it is getting warmer (and dryer...) earlier, I do feel very energized by this sudden bout of spring! I've been ordering seeds, folding toilet roll pots, and planning crops for weeks now, so I was very excited to get some sowing done yesterday. I got in three varieties of peppers, aubergine, celery and an early frost-hardy lettuce, which are now sitting on my window sill. Tomorrow, I'll be sowing peas and fava beans in the garden so they'll get a chance to sprout in these warmer temperatures. It'll likely get colder again, but I am very happy to kick off the gardening season!

Have you started yet? What are you planning on sowing first? Or are you still very much in the midst of winter? (thinking about you Texans out there too, man...) Please share your excitement!

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pollinator
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 Got peppers, tomatoes and artichokes a few weeks or so away from putting in garden.
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Sanna Heijnis
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Wow, these are looking great! Will you be putting them under some sort of cover/in a greenhouse, or can you be confident that there will be no more frost by then? Last couple of years we had some serious frost around mid May, and the one year I had put my tomatoes and squashes outside (under a poly tarp, even) mid April thinking the cold was done, I ended up running around with woolen blanket covers to keep them alive. They survived but took a big setback and the time I thought I had won by putting them out early, I lost because it took them weeks to recover (and it was a lot of extra work too). Not taking that chance again!
 
Ralph Sluder
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 Those are actually in an old room in the house because it is pouring down rain.  I leave them outside otherwise... Bright sun keeps them slow and strong.
When I plant them, I plant them on their side in trenches with just the top few leaves poking out.  Any late frost I just place upside down plastic flower pots over them. Our humidity allows frost under about 40 deg. F. but wont last more than a night or two at a time after may 15th. (my frost free date).
 
gardener
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We typically have a late frost around mid May, so all heat loving plants have to stay in the house until then. Space is the limiting issue here! I only have two real windows that are facing south plus some makeshift shelf in the bedroom unter the roof.
So for the moment I have started with hot peppers and regular peppers, artichockes, eggplants and physalis.

I put the seeds in humid kitchen tissue (the only use I have for it as I "unpapered" my kitchen) near the radiator. Only when the sprouts are easily detectable, I transplant them in little pots.
So far I have long red pointy peppers, orange "snack" peppers, Siberian chili, one pipi de mono chili (resembling bird's eye), three artichoke plants and several Physalis.
I only got one eggplant so today I sowed some more (from an old seed packet, let's see if any will sprout at all!).
The surprise was the orange snack pepper. The seeds were really old, I can't remember in which year I last planted them and I had about 10 sprouting!

In the unheated greenhouse I have sown hardy vegetables, so far two of my lettuce varieties have come up.

Ah, and yesterday I sowed faba beans at our allotment. Not sure if the voles like them, I hope not!
 
Sanna Heijnis
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Our last frost date is also around mid May, although it can be much earlier. Typically, tomatoes and such don't go outside until after that.

I have physalis planned for sowing in April, along with my tomatoes! It's the first time I'm sowing it, although I had a plant once - and it fruited way too late, we got one berry off it! Maybe I should try sowing it now? I worry that the plant will get too big before it will be safe to put outside...

Yesterday, I sowed three varieties of peas in the garden, fava beans will go in on Wednesday!
 
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Still winter here, but I have a (large) bunch of linden seeds undergoing improvised heat treatment under the desk lamp, and a smaller number of seeds from some nice-tasting miniature apples by the window. All to provide trees for our future forest.
I might have gone a bit overboard on the number of linden seeds, actually. By all accounts they're a bit tricky to get going, but if all of them germinate... Well. Ninety-eight trees are practically a forest in their own right. Plus, they'll likely have company soon. We've ordered loads of seeds, and some of them are short viability ones... Anyway, super excited!
 
pollinator
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So far I've only started onions, leeks and alpine strawberries.  In the next week or so I plan to start brassicas, peppers, asparagus and rhubarb.
 
Sanna Heijnis
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Wow Eino, that is awesome! A whole linden forest! I can just smell the blossoms right here.

Are you starting asparagus and rhubarb from seed, Michelle?
 
pollinator
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I found out late winter is a good time to root cuttings. Here in the photo are goji cuttings I took 3 weeks ago. See how fast they rooted and grow new leaves!
I am quite encouraged and am trying to root several more plants like fig, mulberry, raspberry and blackberry the same way.
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Goji cuttings
Goji cuttings
 
Michelle Heath
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Sanna Heijnis wrote:
Are you starting asparagus and rhubarb from seed, Michelle?



Yes.  I'm starting Victoria and Glaskins Perpetual Rhubarb, and Mary Washington, Precoce D'Argenteuil and another variety of asparagus which escapes me at the moment.  For me it's a great way to increase the amount of plants I have for very little cost.  
 
pioneer
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I can't do anything until at least March, and that is mostly getting a start on mending the garden fence, maybe situating the compost heap in a new site and raking up some Winter debris (at my current level of experience; I haven't done anything regarding season extending, but should be exploring that this year.)

I will be starting seeds indoors under grow lights in mid-March or so.
 
Posts: 110
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Just started here in Ohio! We're a bit late....
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C Mouse
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A wee update - two more trays started. And this is what the basil looks like now.
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Sanna Heijnis
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That's amazing Mouse! I will be sowing basil this week too.

Here is my tray: peppers and aubergine and lettuce coming up nicely.
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Posts: 22
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We are very excited for the new growing season here! It's been a grey, wet winter and it's nice to see the sun again. I probably started some of my plants earlier than I should have... the first of February I started my seeds: leeks, onions, peppers, garlic, asparagus, tree collards, celery, stinging nettle, and rhubarb. Most are looking good, although some are getting a little big. Hopefully we will have an early spring this year and I can plant them outside safely.

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Started in February
Started in February
 
Sanna Heijnis
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Are those asparagus seedlings? They are beyond adorable!
 
Gilligan Caisse
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Yes, those are asparagus and I think they are adorable too! And so soft. You can't see it in the picture, but the tops are over 2 ft tall now. If I had realized that asparagus grow so quickly I might have waited a little longer to start them. They seem to be doing fine though.
 
Sanna Heijnis
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You're right, they look tiny but now I see the peppers in the background and realize how big they are. So pretty, I would grow them just for that!
 
pollinator
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This week I planted onions, sweet potato seeds (not slips), peppers, a few tomatoes and a bunch of flowers. Three more sweet potatoes ready to go in soil, and all of it out in the unheated greenhouse. Yes, even the sweet potatoes.

I torture my plants. Cold germination, no special soils, no bottom heat, no extra light. I do put them out in the greenhouse in good sunlight. I ran out of TP rolls, so I need to figure out something else for the rest of the seeds...

So far, I've never seen the greenhouse itself get below freezing after March 1. It was 80 in there yesterday when I went out.
 
Gilligan Caisse
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Lauren, do you grow your sweet potatoes in the greenhouse or transplant them outside? Do you have good success with them?
 
C Mouse
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Those asparagus look so soft! I just want to pet them. XD
 
Gilligan Caisse
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C Mouse, I pet them all the time.
 
C Mouse
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And here I was thinking I was the only weirdo who pets their plants.

I've actually heard it can help them grow stronger, thicker stems that way. So I gently touch most of my seedlings when I water them.

I've been thinking of putting in a rotating desk fan as part of my seed starting setup and see if that makes a difference in how thick the stems develop.
 
Gilligan Caisse
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I didn't know it could help them grow stronger, now I'll pet them even more. My asparagus do seem to have thin stems at this age, but I'm not sure if that's typical or if they've just been too comfy. The fan is an interesting idea - I'd love to hear updates on that experiment.
 
Lauren Ritz
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Gilligan Caisse wrote:Lauren, do you grow your sweet potatoes in the greenhouse or transplant them outside? Do you have good success with them?

Last year I got seeds from my own plants for the first time, so I don't know yet whether I'll have good success. Last year's plants that I tried to overwinter didn't make it, but I had one plant that had a good basal cluster of nice sized roots. Not huge, but usable. I started them for slips last week. They'll all be planted out in the main garden where I can keep an eye on them.

My goal right now is seeds that can reliably sprout and grow in conditions sweet potatoes normally wouldn't appreciate, and I think I'm making progress.
 
Gilligan Caisse
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Lauren, I would love to hear how that goes for you. Sweet potatoes are one of my very favorites, but I have never had luck growing them. The slips that I start every year end in disappointment. Even so, I started some again this year.
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Sweet potato starting
Sweet potato starting
 
Lauren Ritz
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Gilligan Caisse wrote:Lauren, I would love to hear how that goes for you. Sweet potatoes are one of my very favorites, but I have never had luck growing them. The slips that I start every year end in disappointment. Even so, I started some again this year.

Sweet potatoes love heat even more than they love water. You'll want to plant them in your sunniest spot, possibly against a wall that heats up during the day. Water them with hot water straight out of the hose (if it ever heats up in your area).

The thing with seeds is that they can learn. It takes 3 years/generations (apx) for seeds to learn about their new home and really start to thrive. Roots are essentially clones so they don't learn as easily. I have my first generation, and with any luck I'll have my second generation this fall. It's the third generation when things get interesting.
 
Gilligan Caisse
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Thanks, Lauren, I'll try that this year. That's very interesting about the seed generations. I hope you keep us posted!
 
Anita Martin
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C Mouse wrote:And here I was thinking I was the only weirdo who pets their plants.

I've actually heard it can help them grow stronger, thicker stems that way. So I gently touch most of my seedlings when I water them.

I've been thinking of putting in a rotating desk fan as part of my seed starting setup and see if that makes a difference in how thick the stems develop.



I have read that info years ago and since then I make sure to touch them as often as I can. When you are away from home or outdoors all day you might think about a fan (many people do so) but to pet them by hand is far more permie
 
Sanna Heijnis
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Ok, so I can stop suppressing the urge to touch my babies? Totally petting my seedlings from now on!
 
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I start all perennials in late winter, early spring outside.
Inside the car: Aruncus dioicus,Trifoliate orange, Fava, Pea
Outside: Schisandra chinensis, Angelica Gigas, Platycodon grandiflorus, Dystaenia takesimana, Asyneuma japonicum, Angelica dahurica
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C Mouse
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Starting seeds in a car is super clever. Our car gets used too much for that I think. I like the idea of it.
 
Jeesun Pak
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C Mouse wrote:Starting seeds in a car is super clever. Our car gets used too much for that I think. I like the idea of it.


A little hothouse.  I have to cover it with blankets at night.
 
Sanna Heijnis
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Sowed my new tray today! Basil, endive, fennel, physalis and two varieties of 'pointy cabbage' (which I don't know the English word for, but is like white cabbage only, well yeah, pointy. We call it spitskool and for some reason it is the cabbage that does best in our garden).

Can't wait for my physalis, it's the first time I've sowed it myself. We got a plant 2 years ago but I think it was sown too late, it produced about one berry before the frost killed it off.

(Meanwhile, I have bursitis and really hope it clears out soon because I have some chicken fence to put up - it's time to banish them from the growing area)
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Anita Martin
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Sanna Heijnis wrote:Sowed my new tray today! Basil, endive, fennel, physalis and two varieties of 'pointy cabbage' (which I don't know the English word for, but is like white cabbage only, well yeah, pointy. We call it spitskool and for some reason it is the cabbage that does best in our garden).
Can't wait for my physalis, it's the first time I've sowed it myself. We got a plant 2 years ago but I think it was sown too late, it produced about one berry before the frost killed it off.


My Spitzkohl - pointy cabbage has already been transplanted. I have it in the greenhouse, covered up a bit, I hope it will endure the low temperatures.
I have also two types of lettuce going there, Cime di Rapa and mini Pak Choy, some plants of cauliflower and onions.

Endives in Germany are a later autumn crop, I have not heard before that people sow it in spring. I normally sow it in June. When do you harvest if you sow now?
Have you had good luck sowing fennel that early? I have heard it can bolt when planted too early.

Good luck with the physalis, I did sow mine in February (together with peppers and chili) because they tend to grow slowly.
I have also overwintered one plant which is looking good.

Today was a beautiful sunny day but very cold.
In the last days I pruned my espaliered trees and my berry bushes.
Another week or so and I will start with tomatoes and basil.
 
Sanna Heijnis
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Pointy cabbage in my experience can take some frost. In fact, it survived outside all winter (as chicken fodder).

The endive is an experiment. I had some volunteers coming up in the garden so I figured if they felt it was the right time, who am I to argue! I always assumed that high temps and long days were the problem (because it makes them bolt), so I'm just giving it a try now. Hope to harvest towards the end of May.

I hope my physalis makes it in time then! The seed package said sow in April like tomatoes, so I was feeling very adventurous already, haha!
 
Anita Martin
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Got all my 40 tomato varieties for this year in the soil (of my seedtrays).
I got one new variety from a nice lady nearby who recommended to sow them according to the moon calendar (which I never do) so I just wrote the date down in the calendar as a reminder. And as I like to-do-lists, I used it as a task for today and sowed them all.
This time I used the hot water method for the seedlings. I brewed a tea from chamomille and garlic and watered the seedlings - in the soil - with the hot liquid. I have done so already and it is a bit frightening to do so but it worked fine last time I did (another tip from a Russian gardener).

I also started some flowers and one type of basil; the rest will follow in the next days.
 
Ralph Sluder
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Got my baby doll watermelon, roselle and nasturtum seeds started in seedflats last night. Time to put my corn, summer squash and cucumber seeds into the garden this weekend. Looks like the cold is over for us.
 
Gilligan Caisse
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Anita Martin wrote:Got all my 40 tomato varieties for this year in the soil (of my seedtrays).
I got one new variety from a nice lady nearby who recommended to sow them according to the moon calendar (which I never do) so I just wrote the date down in the calendar as a reminder. And as I like to-do-lists, I used it as a task for today and sowed them all.
This time I used the hot water method for the seedlings. I brewed a tea from chamomille and garlic and watered the seedlings - in the soil - with the hot liquid. I have done so already and it is a bit frightening to do so but it worked fine last time I did (another tip from a Russian gardener).

I also started some flowers and one type of basil; the rest will follow in the next days.



That is very interesting, Anita. I've never heard of the hot water method. What benefits have you noticed?
 
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