This magenta pink claytonia caught my eye when I was out in the vegetable garden today. It had popped up in one of the garlic patches last autumn, and it managed to survive the winter weather including a January deep freeze with lows of -17C(1F). I do not recall seeing pink tones in this plant before so I looked it up. There is something called Claytonia rubra mentioned on www.claytonia.org. Apparently it is native to our area, so that may well be it. I think it is exceptionally pretty, and very cool. I may have to mark it for seed saving. 🤔
My mom had taken cuttings from a store bought basil plant to root in water, and they were beginning to grow roots; they are now trimmed and potted up in individual pots to grow on. Italian Parsley got bumped up to 2" pots as well; I should have started the parsley much later, as it can't go out for another month (evidently this biennial will bolt come July if it is exposed to near-freezing temperatures, as it will think it has gone through winter).
A few days ago I finally turned on my heat mat, to experiment with germinating pepper seeds under squares of damp paper towel placed in small take out cups. Given that pepper seeds can take many days or even weeks to germinate I would like to have a germination method that is soil-free until the seeds show signs of sprouting. One challenge is that the piece of paper towel in the little plastic cups dries out too quickly, so I floated one of the cups in 1/2" of water in a lidded glass dish instead. I hope that works to moderate the heat and moisture.
Lisianthus Doublini Rose Pink seedlings are one month old now, and even though their leaves only span about 1/4" they are ready to get bumped up. There are about 60 of them in 3/4" soil blocks as well as a few in a small take-out cup, and they will need a lot more room under grow lights once they move to small 6-cells. It's got to be done though. To produce small transplants they will need at least 8-10 weeks longer in the cool 15C(59F) basement under lights.
Update: the lisianthus is now in small 6-cells.
A month ago I sowed a lettuce seeds thickly with every intention of pricking them out-- but it never happened. After a month the seedlings were all tall and raggedy. I finally pricked them out yesterday and placed them in a couple of large bins outside, under cover. They had almost no root system so I don't think they will amount to much, but at least I can stop feeling guilty about not transplanting them. If their leaves are still all droopy in a few days I will feed them to the bunny and start over. 🤣
There were two more trays over overgrown lettuce seedlings, though not nearly as dramatic as these ones. Those varieties got pricked out, and I feel much more confident that they can be saved. I covered those bins with row cover to retain humidity while they put down roots.
We have several days of mild weather in the forecast which is a good opportunity to begin hardening off lettuce starts. These varieties include Prizehead and Darkness, each of which I would like to grow out for seed; there is also a nice little tray of Tatsoi that will find its way to a stir fry soon.
I really want to test the cold-tolerance of early dwarf tomato plants this year, so a bunch of stocky little tomato seedlings are getting hardened off as well. It seems very mean to put tomatoes outside in February, but I won't be able to cultivate cold tolerance by keeping them indoors. I have lots and lots of tomato test subjects (victims??) to work with, and if I push the limits sufficiently some of them will perish; the survivors are the ones that I will grow out for seed. There will also be a couple of each variety growing indoors as insurance, because I would like to be able to have some early ripe tomatoes for eating as well.
Our weather forecast for the next two weeks will be quite ideal for this experiment. Over the next few days our night time temperatures will gradually drop to at or near freezing for just a few hours each night, allowing the plants to feel the chill without actually freezing to death. They will also have the wall of the high tunnel to temper the wind, and to keep them just a bit warmer than what is showing on the outdoor thermometer. When I was moving the seedlings outside I noticed that there were a lot of holes in the leaves of the Swiss Chard plants; on closer inspection I located three cutworms and a chafer beetle grub under the containers. I will have to be vigilant in case there are more pests.