We Have Germination!

So far, my experiment has been a wonderful success. After being out of town for the DC Snowquester, I returned to find many of my seeds (planted last weekend) SPROUTED! Take a look:IMG_0287 IMG_0288 IMG_0289 IMG_0290 IMG_0291I moved all the seed-starting trays (and tupperwares) to the sun-room  They are now under three lights to help provide additional warmth and light for the new veggie-life. I have also been keeping up with my new garden journal and added in the dates of germination for the seeds that germinated so far.

It was a beautiful day, and I spent it daydreaming about the garden.

Seed Starting 2013

Yes! March! We are so close to spring, I can taste it in the air. February was a wonderful month to fantasize about spring and everything related to the garden. Rooting DC confirmed that I am ready to get gardening (or at least, garden planning). I attended wonderful workshops about seed-saving (thank you to Southern Exposure Seed Exchange), herbal medicine from the home-garden, achieving continuous harvests with succession planting, and growing your own mushrooms!  I was also able to collect free seeds for community gardens at the University of Maryland.

This weekend, I pulled out all my seeds (and bought some new, exciting ones from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange), my gardening books, and a lovely new garden-journal a friend gave to me for my birthday, to develop my garden plan and start some seeds inside. With two seeds starting trays and six tupperwares , I started over 30 seed varieties. Vegetables, herbs, and flower! Some highlights include five types of basil, ground cherries, okra, artichoke, and cauliflower. I focused my seed-starting efforts on cool-weather crops (broccoli, lettuce, leeks, etc.) and slower-growing warm weather crops (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, watermelon, cucumbers, etc.). I also started a tray of red-radish microgreens.

I took tupperware from Thai take-out and other unwanted containers, lined them with small gravel, and put in organic  seed-starting mix, and voilà: home-made seed starting kits. I also made every effort to label the seeds  with some duck-tape and sharpie markers. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep track of the seedlings as they grow.

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I’m still planning many different types of seeds to direct-sow in the garden. For spring, I’m planning to direct-sow radishes, peas, beans, spinach, carrots, onions, garlic, broccoli-rabe, and other greens.

I was also really happy to pick up a few clay pots and paint them with chalkboard paint – I’m eager to use these for kitchen herbs and label them accordingly. Cute!IMG_0269

 

I cleared out some of the fall/winter crops from the garden that were hurting from the cold weather. I harvested kale, mustard, collards, and broccoli to enjoy this week.

Next item on the garden “to-do” list is a soil test and developing a garden design. I’ve got a fire going, some mint-green tea and all my garden books out — so, I’m ready to go!

Planted Too Many Greens?

I guess I just don’t believe the seed packet: the spacing requirements or the promise that the seeds will germinate and become full-grown plants one day. A friend of mine who was raised on a farm told me that for each plant you want to grow, plant three seeds (one is for the rabbit, one for another pest, and one for you). For each fall-vegetable plant I wanted this season, I planted about 30 (or more). To my amazement, the seeds all germinated and sprouted. I am in awe of this process each time.

Now, my rows of kale, collards, broccoli-rabe, and radishes are coming in way to thick!

After a visit to Willowsford Farm, I was reminded by their beautiful rows of fall vegetables how large these plants get! So, I came home and started the process of thinning.

I’m left with lots and lots of yummy microgreens. Microgreens are also really nutritious – a recent study this summer found that microgreens contain up to 40 times higher levels of vital nutrients than their mature counterparts.

I’m using radish, kale, collard, and brocolli rabe microgreens now in salads and on sandwiches. Take a look at how many I’ve eaten so far.

 

Next time, I’m going to be scaling back on the number of seeds I plant. But, I love the process of thinning these rows now that I know how to enjoy the fruits of my labor with these healthy, little microgreens.