Sunday, April 3, 2011
Torrential Rain, Thunderstorms Today
Heirloom Marigold 'Simba'
Today is a good day to be inside gardening. Torrential rain is pelting the last remnants of the snow outside. I just heard a might crack of thunder. We are decidedly in the "April showers..." phase today.
I just finished watering my transplants on the light racks. This is getting to be a more onerous chore. They need watering cell by cell, pot by pot daily now, not just a mist with a sprayer bottle.
I planted more fennel seed. Although I got a good germination rate the first time around, the pricking out survival rate was very poor. This surprised me because my luck transplanting direct sown seedling in the garden from one spot to another is fairly good. I like fennel for its seed, and good with it a lot, but it can be pricey. My son likes it in biscuits and gravy, and I would cook with it more frequently if I had more of it. Also the type I planted has a nice mild anise flavoured bulbous root I like raw like celery.
I planted a second type of basil, lemon dani, and it is coming up. This variety is good as a garnish and in salads, but although its lemony flavor is quite nice I have a hard time using it for my traditional pastas, pesto, or my basil aioli. For those things I like a good Genovesee.
This week I also started two edible flowers that are good bug chasers, too. They are the heirloom chrysanthemum-type marigold and the frothy marigold Tangerine Gem. I prefer Lemon Gem for its paler yellow color, more workable when blending colors in the garden, but the seed is not always easy to find. The germination rate I got with this one has been great. The heirloom, I generally see marketed under the name Simba because these days it tends to remind one of the Disney "Lion Story" character. I am sure there is a trademarked marketing scheme in there somewhere. Although an heirloom, there tends to be about 25% of the plants that are singles versus the frillier more than double blooms. I am very careful to collect from the phenotype with the type I like and pull out other, but I have a feeling this one is capable of crossing with all the different hybrids growing in my neighbors' yards.
I also decided I did not have enough onions started. I started one named 'Ringmaster'. As I mentioned I have not been impressed with my results planting onion sets in the past so I decided to grow my own this year from seed of varieties I know to be long day types, versus using the generic sets labeled as white, yellow, and red.
Following along on yesterday's theme of garden experimentation, I planted the seed from a poblano-type red pepper I had been given last year that I thought was an incredibly sweet, large pepper. I know the prevailing wisdom is this was probably from a hybrid plant and I will not get the pepper I so enjoyed, but I will let you know. I do know one thing so far-- germination rate is incredible.
I love sweet red peppers; however, I can't bring myself to pay nearly $4.00 a pound for a red bell pepper that has been shipped 3,000 miles. It just goes against the grain for me! Buying pepper plants is not always an option, because I am never sure whether the peppers haven't been exposed to temperature between 40 degrees and 50 degrees. Temperatures below 50 degrees wreck havoc with a pepper's flower setting rhythm and generally drastically reduce how much fruit you get.
Germination rate which seems to be between 35% and 50%, though, for the pricey ($.35 to $.50 PER SEED!) packets is such a rip! I started Jung's 'Carmen' (50% germination), 'Marconi' (nothing so far, but early), and the collected seed (I'm guessing around 90% germination rate). I started some Jung's cayenne type peppers and got 72% germination with a pricking out rate of around 65%. Some of those seedlings were slow to germination and have not really thrived, so I should have probably culled them at the start. I have also started about ten jalapeno seeds, about 50% germination. The cayenne and jalapeno I use in canning, salsa, and dried in cooking. I definitely don't need 72 cayenne, but I am hoping to be able to sell or trade half of them as seedlings or as dried ristas, if I end up growing them out.
The Botanical Interests cauliflower looks to be a winner so far. It is the combo packet with a purple, cheddar, and green variety packed as one. I think I got between 90% and 100% germination. Cauliflowers are acknowledged hard to get a yield here because of pests and weather conditions. I intend to use some sort of row cover with these.
My sister-in-law and I went over our garden preparation schedule last night over supper. The garden we have planned will take up about one acre. This is huge for many people, but our goal is to provide for more than just our immediate households, and also establish some perennial fruiting areas with berries, rhubarb, herbs, and grapes.
Currently, this area has been fallow for a number of years. We want to have a local farmer plow it once and disc it for us a couple times so we can till in composted manure and organic materials. The snag is many of the local farmers have such big tractors and equipment they can not get effectively work a plot even as large as an acre (or for them as small as an acre)! Flip-flopping our intended gardening area with an area previously fenced for my sister-in-laws donkeys might get it for us, in that it that acre lies adjacent to a field typically planted by the neighboring farmer to corn or soybeans, depending on the crop rotation. Regardless, getting everything prepped and ready will undoubtedly be a time crunch for all of us.