Branching Out's Seeds and Sprouts

flowerbug

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Last year I had some issues with poor germination. I think a lot of my seeds just rotted when I placed them in the moist seed starting soil, so this year I am trying pre-sprouting most of them. So far getting the seeds hydrated under a moist paper towel set inside a clear plastic container is working pretty good. I am able to open the lid to moisten the paper towel once a day or so, and I can check on the seed's germination progress by looking at them from below (since it's a transparent container). The seeds get lots of air this way as well. In the photo below the flat rectangular container holds scallion seeds; they showed signs of sprouting after just two days. I'll probably wait a couple of more days, and then plant them in small 6-cells. Today I put some pansies,lettuce, and peppers to pre-sprout. Last week I figured out that there are a few seeds such as mustard that sprout so quickly that this method isn't beneficial; mustard pops in just a day or two, and is best poked directly in to the soil (after three days I had a tangled container full of microgreens that tasted like spicy horseradish). So this afternoon I started some Tah Tsai pac choi too-- but in 3/4" soil blocks, without presprouting. Good chance they will be up in a matter of days.

this is the kind of thing learned by experience and you get to call yourself an expert if you can repeat things a few years in a row and have good results. :) :) keep at it! :)
 

Branching Out

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This afternoon I was in the kitchen washing out my espresso pot when I spied something green coming out of the little crevice where the faucet rests on the sink. On closer inspection I was shocked to realize it was a slender, leggy seedling. I couldn't resist potting the seedling up and placing it under lights so I can see it grow. I wonder what kind of seed it is?
So the seedling that sprouted under my kitchen faucet seems to be growing happily-- but I am still not sure what it is. I tried identifying it using the PlantNet App, and it was inconclusive. It could be a chrysanthemum perhaps, but I'm not sure.
 

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digitS'

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My first thought is that you may have been using coriander seeds for something.

Admittedly, it does seem like a kinda random thought.

That's a large family so a "weed" possibility fits in easily. I hope not, for the sake of more fun.

Steve
 

Branching Out

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The leaves appear to be thicker and more succulent than coriander leaves, and it seems to be branching enthusiastically too. When I think of how many varieties of seeds that I cleaned this past year and how many containers I washed out at the sink, it could be almost anything. 😊
 

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I finally got around to removing the many layers of frost cloth and row cover that I had placed over plants in my high tunnel 2 weeks ago, just prior to a week-long cold stretch where temperatures dipped below -13C(8F). It is pretty wet in there now with all of the rain that we are getting, so it was a good thing I got out there today before mildew sets in. Most of the lettuce plants froze to mush, but a few hardy ones survived and are looking great. The pansies, kale, little baby seedlings, and chard did just fine under the airy white fabric. Radicchio did okay in the high tunnel, but all of my outdoor radicchio froze completely; outdoor lettuce is all rotten as well. Having multiple thin layers of dry fabric to trap air in the high tunnel helped to keep the plants alive I think.
 

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Branching Out

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A note on row cover: I learned the hard way to not put too much laundry detergent in the machine when you wash it, or it becomes an epic bubble event reminiscent of a scene out of 'I Love Lucy'. Start with just a tablespoon of laundry soap, and add more if you feel it needs it. If you shake off most of the loose dirt and debris first it washes up really nicely, and then the material should be hung to dry (and it dries very quickly). Once I tried drying row cover in the dryer and it kind of melted-- so always hang it to dry.

The frost blanket that I have is made of a much thicker, stiffer material than the row cover--so to keep that clean I will just try to prevent it from contacting the soil (I placed it on top of the row cover in the high tunnel, so it was well off the ground). It may respond well to machine washing too, but if it doesn't it could ruin the fabric. So I won't plan on washing the frost cover unless I absolutely have to.
 

digitS'

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Monday, we cleaned up the little greenhouse bed (18"x20') and moved the benches back in place. The overwintering of the greens was something of a mistake altho there was one harvest of each, leaf lettuce and mustard greens. It was a bit of a surprise to see that even some of the mustard had died in the subzero weather.

it is the center bed (3'x20') that can be more easily covered with plastic film and tarps if necessary. The benches over that ground are heavier and much more of a bother to move out of the unheated greenhouse for the Winter months. I haven't done that in recent years.

Can you describe your high tunnel setup, Dahlia?

Steve
 

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Is it my high tunnel set up that you are curious about digitS'? If so, it is a work in progress as this is all new to me. During the spring we used the high tunnel for seedling flats, in summer it held large containers with hot peppers, and now it has some bins of lettuce and various other seedlings. I don't have a bench in there so some plants are sitting on the ground where slugs are finding them. Recently I placed upside down 2 gallon pots on the ground so I could lift up the lettuce bins; that seems to be working okay so far. It seems like this will be a fluid space, or kind of like a triage unit for the plants that need it most.
 

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One of our local garden mentors sends out monthly gardening tips, and after her repeated suggestions I finally placed some vinegar traps in the garden to catch the dreaded spotted wing Drosophila. SWD is a fruit fly, and according to Linda Gilkeson they overwinter in our area and then start laying their eggs in soft fruits like raspberries and strawberries come springtime. After a couple of weeks of waiting I think I have caught a few of them.
 

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Branching Out

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A quick update on the last few storage tomatoes that are kicking around our basement after having been harvested in October and November. I thought I would include the good, the bad, and the ugly rather than trying to make everything look pretty, because from my experience it seems very important that these tomatoes be placed where they will not make a big mess if and when they rot. And rot they did! Some of these such as Piennolo Giallo and Piennolo Rosso still look okay but taste terrible now; they were each very tasty when fresh. I think I should have started those seedlings much later in the season, so the plants would have been at their peak rather than at the end of their life when I harvested. Long Keeper was a dud for me, and the tomatoes are still just orange orbs. The centre photo shows the best in terms of firmness, and that is Giallo a Grappoli; the large cherry-sized fruits are unblemished, and none of them has deteriorated. Taste wise they are not bad-- although nothing noteworthy either. I am wondering if I should have planted those ones earlier. Clearly there will be some tinkering to find the sweet spot with each variety. It's February though, and I still have home grown tomatoes to munch on which is very cool.
 

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