Monday, February 19, 2007


While I was sick, I tried to use my "feel good" times effectively and worked on getting some more of my seeds started. (I had a horrible cough "thing" going on. Yuk!) I now have all our tomato seeds started for this year and all have been quick to sprout. I am running out of grow light space, which is more of an issue of no where to hang them, and I need to solve this quickly or I could end up having problems because of it. I have had plenty of radiator space though and it's been cold. Anything requiring heat to sprout is set on the radiators, or near them, and usually sprouts very very quickly--as in just a matter of days. 7 to 9 days to sprout---no way! their up in 4.
I am trying something new by planting the tomatoes in dixie cups this year. Not that the dixie cups are new--I have used those before for seed starting--but how I planted the seeds in the cups. I only filled the cups about 1/4 of the way up with soil and then planted the seeds. As the plants have grown up in the cup, we first thinned, then added more soil. Most haven't made it to the top yet but they seem to do fine---a bit leggy since they were so far down in the cup but it works with the idea of "potting and re potting". Only this way---I don't have to move them to a bigger cup/pot yet but I get the benefit of encouraging roots along the stem. I will see if I think they end up same, better, different than the way I normally would start them. Maybe just more convenient rather than better. Or maybe no difference at all. Hopefully they will have many roots more quickly. We will see.
I also have a picture up at the top of this post of my artichokes in the paper pots. Here is a picture of them two weeks ago, so you can see how much they have grown. I have been using a 50/50 mix of bagged seed starter mix and worm castings. I love this mix. I will stick with it since it seems to hold moisture very nicely. I find that even the regular bagged seed starting mixes have just a bit to much peat for me. I think they dry out a little too quickly and get hard. Everyone who has started seeds knows how hard it is to re wet dried peat mixes. The worm castings seem to keep the mix a tiny bit moister and easier to re wet. Even if I make my own (which I have done for soil blocking) I will incorporate the worm castings from now on---I just really really like it.
Out of the 30 seeds for the artichokes that I started I only had 12 finally sprout. The un sprouted are still down on a heat mat ---but I think I am just about ready to throw them in the compost pile. I am not sure if it was me, the seeds or the technique or maybe all three. I had 8 sprout fairly quickly but then the rest were stragglers. The last one sprouted about 1 week ago----which is the reason why I haven't just chucked the whole batch yet. Now that I actually have some up for this year that will more than likely set buds/fruit, I will start the rest this spring (remembering to soak them this time) when I can just set them outside and let nature do it's thing with them. We will see how they sprout then.
I did want to have about 20 of them so 8 more would be nice---but no big deal if I don't get them. I can always take side shoots off the current plants next year and get my other 8 that I wanted.

Well, I know everyone has ordered seeds already BUT if anyone wants a free package of "Rose" tomato seeds--described here---please email me with your address and I will send it to you. I debated whether or not to keep them but really I have plenty and they were a freebie with my order. I thought about starting a few just to try them---but again, I really don't need more.
Currently this year we have planted these varieties of tomatoes:

Purple Russian
Japanese Black Trifele
Pink Accordion
Granny Cantrell German
German Lunch Box
Weeping Charley
Dad's Barber Paste
Homestead 24
Purple Calabash
Carol Chyko's Big Paste
Great White

All of these seeds are from either Baker Creek or TomatoFest. All have sprouted well and I of course have many left over. I would like to eventually start all the seeds in my packages to grow and sell in the early spring but we just don't have the room this year to do that. Next year I believe we will be a bit more organized and have less remodel supplies and hay stored in areas where they aren't suppose to be. That in turn will re-free up room for my seed "stuff".

Everyone have a great day--we're about a month from the "official" start of spring.

SmallMeadow Farm
Icelandic sheep, Irish Dexters and heritage chickens


El said...

Holy cannoli that is a LOT of types of tomatoes! YUM. And I though I grew a lot with just 8 varieties.

You know, M, artichokes are really difficult little buggers to get to sprout, much less get going big enough to ever have the flowers to eat. So getting as many as you did seems about right. I would watch the unsprouted ones for a few days yet. You never know. The plants get pretty big (about 2' around) in their first year and can be quite magnificent thereafter. Mine get to be a bit taller than knee-high, and I have them clustered together; it makes it easier to mulch over them to keep them alive over the winter.

farmer, vet and feeder of all animals said...

el--that's only 4 more than you are growing! Besides about 1/2 of them are paste. So you can guess what I am doing with them this year. I always find I plant lots of eating tomatoes and end up with too few canners---so for the first time, I switched! It's hard not to get caught up in all those beefsteaks though when reading the catalogs :-)