Branching Out's Seeds and Sprouts

Branching Out

Deeply Rooted
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For six or seven weeks I've had a couple of trays of tomatoes and peppers getting started at my friend's place; he's my seed starting buddy. I got the trays back from him a couple of days ago, and are they ever in rough shape. Not sure what happened to produce such a lacklustre result, but good chance it was the peat moss that I used for the soil blocks; it sat outside all winter, and was likely full of all kinds of spores. I think this is the homeliest batch of transplants that I have ever produced. Lol. Rather than tossing them all I moved the least ugly ones to a seedling bin, and I'll give them a week or so to see if they perk up. I also madly started more tomatoes and peppers. Losing all of those early pepper starts is a major setback though, since they take so very long to mature.

On a positive note the Ferrari Bush beans that I started on March 30th have really blossomed with nice bright green leaves reaching up on strong stems. They will spend a few days in a row cover pillowcase under cover on the sundeck, and then I will plant them out with row cover later in the week. I also have one tray of early sunflowers that is getting to enjoy the fresh air outside today.
 

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digitS'

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starlings
Are those what take the sunflower seedlings!?

Several years ago, the robbery in the flower garden was just too much to put up with. The sunflowers went from direct-seeded to greenhouse starts.They transplant well.

I thought that it might be the rabbits. There are always rabbits in and around the distant garden. The neighbors tolerate our Rocky Mountain snowshoe rabbits. Another thought was the Magpies. I didn't think that it would be a favorite food but there can be a dozen Magpies that show up out there at a time.

Starlings are always around.

Steve
 

Branching Out

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Are those what take the sunflower seedlings!?

Several years ago, the robbery in the flower garden was just too much to put up with. The sunflowers went from direct-seeded to greenhouse starts.They transplant well.

I thought that it might be the rabbits. There are always rabbits in and around the distant garden. The neighbors tolerate our Rocky Mountain snowshoe rabbits. Another thought was the Magpies. I didn't think that it would be a favorite food but there can be a dozen Magpies that show up out there at a time.

Starlings are always around.

Steve
A couple of summers ago I planted out small sunflower seedlings and they all disappeared in just a few hours. I saw a bird tug one of them out, but I can't recall if it was a starling. Now I try to plant those seedlings deeply, and if it's practical I cover them with row cover for a few days as well. It's a constant battle with the critters. ;)
 
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Branching Out

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On January 22nd I started four kinds of tomatoes to test their cold tolerance: Andrina, Kalinka, Uralskiy Ranniy, and Wildling Panamourous. I multi-sowed 3 seeds in each tall round 3" soil block, and then bumped them into two trays of 4” cells on Feb. 26th. It was surprising that vigorous 3" tall seedlings could be held for this long in a tall round block, with 3 plants per block. Given that I had to disturb their roots to pull them apart they were given low-light conditions for the first couple of days, so their roots could settle in. After that they adapted very well. One tray was placed outside in early March for exposure to the cold weather, and the second tray was kept indoors under lights for three more weeks. At the end of March the indoor tray got moved outside as well. The good news is that the tomato plants that were out in the cold did just fine. Here is a photo of both trays taken this afternoon. The light green plants on the left are the ones that were pampered indoors, and the dark green tomatoes on the right have been living outside for the past month in an unheated high tunnel. The plan is to save seed from the tray that has been living outside, in the hopes that the seeds will have developed a degree of epigentic cold-tolerance. Now I just have to keep track of them so I don't mix them up! I think I will give away all of the seedlings that were grown indoors; that way there will be no risk of confusing the two groups.

The shortest plants are Andrina, a Russian nano dwarf cherry that starts flowering when it is just 3-4" tall. The close up photo below is a cluster of Andrina buds. Last summer this one did great for us in containers, producing until the autumn. The foliage hides the fruit, so it was like a treasure hunt to find them. 🍅
 

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Branching Out

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Not sure if this rogue Ferrari bush bean is just an over achiever or an out cross in the making. Time will tell. Perhaps a climbing Ferrari? That would be very interesting. For now I have separated it from the rest and given it a taller pot. This tray was sown with seed that I had saved. 🌱
 

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Branching Out

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Yesterday was SO much fun! A friend helped me to bump up the early cold-tolerant tomatoes that I've been growing. I have a new work area under cover of the deck, so even though it was raining we could get a lot accomplished. I sorted out the seedlings that I will be keeping to grow out, and the rest will be divided up between several friends who expressed an interest in trying them. Here are some of the tomatoes that will be heading to new homes soon: Alenka, Andrina, Kalinka, Honey Nail, Latah, Marmalade Orange, Moskvich, and Uralskiy Ranniy. I am also trying a few grocery store tomatoes, to see if they can survive a chilly start, and Kron Prince which was new to me last summer and really impressed me. There is also a tray of Wilding Panamorous Tomatoes from seed that I saved last year. Those ones cross readily, so I will have to keep them all to myself and plant them far away from the others. 🙂
 

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Branching Out

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Approximately four years ago I purchased asparagus crowns by mail order and also started some asparagus from seed. They went in a bed that slopes gently towards the west where they get lots of afternoon sun. Last year the first shoots appeared but I didn't notice because they were camouflaged by larkspur that had volunteered; I was not able to harvest a single one. So yesterday was a very exciting day. I was able to pick a handful of beautiful asparagus for the very first time. I gave them to my mom, since they grew in her garden and she LOVES fresh asparagus. On her kitchen counter was a really pretty vase of orange tulips from her garden.
 

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Branching Out

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Every year I try to start sweet peas in pots and every year I experience epic failures with these seeds. My mom loves to pick bouquets of sweet peas, so thankfully one variety called High Scent consistently grows well for me; it also produces lots of seeds for saving. It would be nice to have a few colourful cultivars to grow alongside it, so I will keep trying to improve my game. It can take quite a long time for these seeds to germinate, so by the time you realize it's a bust several months may have gone by. This photo shows a robust tray of High Scent, with a tray of three other varieties in front of it. Prince of Orange had no sprouts at all, and the other two each produced a couple of seedlings. I will have to hope that I can get seed from them so I can try again next year. In the mean time I planted out the well-developed ones in between rows of Romaine and Bronzed Mignonette lettuce.
 

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Branching Out

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When I had Covid back in January I saved the small dropper vials that came in the Covid test kit, and now I have one in my pocket at all times. I am finding them very handy for wetting the seed coat of peppers, tomatoes, and melons. Often the water drop remains suspended beautifully in place, helping to loosen the stuck seed.
 

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heirloomgal

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Every year I try to start sweet peas in pots and every year I experience epic failures with these seeds. My mom loves to pick bouquets of sweet peas, so thankfully one variety called High Scent consistently grows well for me; it also produces lots of seeds for saving. It would be nice to have a few colourful cultivars to grow alongside it, so I will keep trying to improve my game. It can take quite a long time for these seeds to germinate, so by the time you realize it's a bust several months may have gone by. This photo shows a robust tray of High Scent, with a tray of three other varieties in front of it. Prince of Orange had no sprouts at all, and the other two each produced a couple of seedlings. I will have to hope that I can get seed from them so I can try again next year. In the mean time I planted out the well-developed ones in between rows of Romaine and Bronzed Mignonette lettuce.
Those sweet pea starts look amazing. They're so thick & bushy; have you been pinching them to create that fullness? I concur in experience with the High Scent variety being an above average performer and seed producer. I grew 'Blue Celeste' in 2022, which is possibly the largest, most fragrant, powdery blue bloom I've ever seen in the sweet pea family and it's a favorite, but it's a terrible seed producer. Of all the varieties I've tried the newer ones have been superior to the older historical ones for both volume of blooms and vigor. I grew 'America' not long ago and while the bloom color was pretty the vines were not vigorous and the flowers were few. Same with Prince of Orange, Black Knight, Lady Grisel Hamilton, Painted Lady. I hope you post pics of the blooms. :)
 

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