Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Snow, Ice and Seedlings

Somehow it is still winter.  We had a few warmish days and then we were sent straight back to the teens again.  I'm anticipating that the schools will be closed for tomorrow due to the snow and ice storm headed our way, I must check our inventory of hot chocolate and prep some cookies.  I'm sure that the sleds will be out and there will be lots of wet mittens and gloves tomorrow.

Despite the wet and cold, I look to spring.  My big box of seeds has emerged from the closet and I have given it a good clean out, anything dated before 2010 is gone, but that still leaves quite a lot.  I generally don't plant a whole packet of most things, so I have a bit of everything left each year.  If anyone local needs veggie seeds--don't buy any until you check with me, I might have half a packet leftover from the last couple of years. The seed marketing folks don't want you to believe that seeds can be good for several years, but they are, there may be a few more duds each year, but most are still good.
The seed box, before editing.

I looked back over my notes for my garden last year and realized that I put out my cool season greens waaaaaaaaaaay too late, which may be why they were ravaged by bugs and slugs.  So, knowing this, I pulled out my seedling heat mat on Monday, and the  mini-greenhouses and dove into the cool season vegetable world.  Kale (2 kinds), collards, broccoli, broccoli raab, mustard spinach (Komatsuna), Swiss chard (2 kinds), Chinese cabbage (for kimchi!!!) and two types of bok choy seeds went into the seed starting mix.  As of this morning, less than 48 hours later, there are many germinating  seeds just popping to the surface.  I'll be firing up the plant lights  in the garage tomorrow.  In about two weeks, I'll plant a bit more broccoli and broccoli raab.
Seedlings to be (I hope)

Despite the cold, I have been back to the horse rescue shoveling manure into tubs to haul home.  The top two inches are frozen, but after I break through the crust everything is shovel-able.  I've extended my long narrow front garden another five feet and will widen it when the daytime temps hover closer to the mid-thirties.  My husband, the plant doctor, says that he has been getting e-mails at work predicting more dry weather in California this year, which would cause much higher vegetable and agricultural product prices because of poor harvests.  He is encouraging me to keep the back garden because of this.  If he helps weed and water, I'm all for it.

It's time to pull out the wire fencing and leather gloves to fashion critter resistant cages, the battle with the squirrels and bunnies last year destroyed any hopes I have for ever raising uncaged okra, cantaloupes or cucumbers.  I'd put the cukes in and within a few hours the squirrels would have them uprooted, I'd put them in again and they would repeat the process until the plants died and I gave up.  They didn't mess with the pumpkins or watermelons though.  The cantaloupes and okra would be nice little seedlings with a few leaves in the morning and by afternoon they would be merely a tiny piece of stem extending slightly above the ground.  I'd replant and you know the story.

So, I'm off to get organized for the sledding, shoveling and pre-season gardening!

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