Tag Archives: seeds

It’s a waiting game.

Ok, so still no Porter tomato seeds, or trellis netting, or heating mat.  How am I supposed to garden, in the dead of winter, without my stuff?  My friend Holly, who lives in NY,  just posts pictures of snow and probably laughs at me.  But really, I could be getting so much done.  really.

We did have some 70 degree days and I was able to run out in the garden and WEED for a couple of hours as well as prune away some of  the unsightly perennials.  Here is the before and after of my Becky daisies.img_0094


And here is the garlic I had promised an update on. img_0095

Doesn’t look like much does it?  Garlic always makes me want to dig it up, just to have a look and see how its going.  Don’t worry, I didn’t.   (oh, and the tacky green edging is going also.)

I also planted the seeds I HAD received into the sponges of my seed starting system.  They were the Tam jalapeno, Purple jalapenos,  Patio Red Marconi peppers, Emerald Giant bell peppers, zebra tomatoes, aunt Ruby’s German cherry tomatoes (these were a freebie from the company) and the ground cherry seeds. 

img_0100 All of these except the ground cherry,  I placed two seeds into the hole of the sponge.  If  two plants should emerge, then you can just cut the less vigorous plant at the base with sharp scissors.  I figure I am increasing my odds of success with more than one seed, if you catch my drift.  Those ground cherry seeds were a challenge.  It was like planting  seeds the size of those on the outside of a strawberry.  These were just placed on top of the sponge.  I had to use my pointed tweezers just to pick them up and place them. img_0103img_0105img_0104

This is a post-it note and the black seeds on the left are poppy seeds.  The ground cherry seeds are on the right in the little plastic bag (very tiny).

 I then placed the system on top of my refrigerator  (a warm spot) for them to germinate.  This is what I did last year and it worked.  I will use the heating mat instead,  if it ever comes.  Once they sprout, (crossing fingers)  I will move them to underneath the grow light.

I also planted two rows of English peas.  These were directly sown into the garden.   My handy dandy vegetable gardening guide said to  plant them 2-3 inches deep, 1 inch apart and the rows should be 18 inches apart.  I kind of fudged on the 18 inches apart but not by more than an inch.  I laid a dowel I had in the middle of the row to mark the spot where the netting/trellis will go….. provided it ever comes.

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Well, heck.

img_0088img_0089img_0092I am so itching to get out in the garden and we are expecting freezing rain/ice,  in other words, the worst weather for our area. 

 I did manage to get outside one day this past weekend and begin preparations for my main vegetable bed.  I took out the spinach-going-nowhere and also some of the swiss chard to make room for english peas.  The peas I had placed in a plastic sandwich bag on a wet paper towel germinated, so I have decided to plant the remainder.  Oh, and I also left the parsley.

So, I had a couple of bags of chicken manure which I dumped into the bed and worked in a bit.  I am so hoping my trellis netting will come TODAY or tomorrow so I can get it erected and get these peas in the ground by the weekend .

I received my sponges for the seed germination kit, but no seeds or heating mat yet.  Are you beginning to see how my life goes?  Whenever they do arrive, I will be starting seeds of peppers and tomatoes.

I did come across a wonderful book this weekend that may become my new gardening bible Month-to-Month Gardening in Texas  by Dale Groom.   In addition to being divided into months, it is then further sub- divided  into annuals, perennials, shrubs, trees, roses, and vegetables.   There is  also a wonderful table which has all the information needed re: planting vegetables.

In addition to work in the vegetable garden, I am very anxious to begin some major revisions.  These will include moving shrubs and plants to optimize space. ( more on that later)

But, for now I will leave you with a lovely photo of my compost pile.img_0085

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Decisions, Decisions

So I know the anticipation is just killing you as to what seeds I bought.  But first, I have to tell you what preparations I have been doing before the seeds arrive.

First, I ordered some new refill sponges  for the  system I bought last year.  This is the system without the sponges, and my cat Ling Ling checking it out.img_0080

I am also sending off this soil sample from my vegetable bed.  At Calloways, you get two free samples, so I thought it would be fun and “educational”  to find out what my beds are lacking.  I meant to do this last year but never got around to it.img_0084

I also ordered a nylon trellis.   It is 5ft x 30ft. but you can cut it to fit and then you just secure it to two poles.  ( I am hoping this is as easy as they described it.)  I had envisioned this last year when I planted my english peas as a way to get two rows of peas, with the trellis in the middle,  for them to climb.  The openings on the trellis are 7in x 7in.  I think I will try to find some bamboo poles.

Now, here are two conundrums I have already encountered.  My swiss chard is still producing. img_0075

 The spinach I planted hasn’t done much at all.  It looks healthy but still small.  The same with the parsley.  Do I take them out in order to plant  English peas for which I will get a smaller yield or give them a little more time until I am ready to plant warmer vegetables?  Argh.  The other thing is, I still have English pea seeds from last year which I have on a wet paper towel in a plastic bag to see if they will germinate.  If they do, I need to use them this year, because they probably won’t be any good next year.

The second problem is that I want to plant Porter tomtatoes.  I planted one plant last year and it outdid all the other varieties I tried.  This variety was developed by Porter and Sons, here in Texas,  for our hot summers.  There are two kinds, orginal Porter and Porter’s Pride.  Porter’s Pride is larger.  Well, the place I ordered the seeds from has said they have a 28 day backlog so I may not get them in time to get them going.  So, do I order more Porter seeds from another place?  or just buy transplants from a local nursery?   what a world, what a world

So, this is what I bought:

Baker Creek (rareseeds.com)

  • green zebra tomatoes
  • a & c pickling cucumbers
  • De Bourbonne cucumbers (tiny pickling )
  • Tom Thumb lettuce
  • Mignonette Bronze lettuce
  • Little Gem lettuce
  • Petite Rouge lettuce
  • Tam Jalapeno (mild)
  • Purple Jalapeno (med. – hot)
  • Emerald Giant bell peppers
  • Patio Red Marconi bell peppers
  • Garden Cress
  • Ground Cherry (Strawberry Husk Tomato)

Heirloom seeds

  • nylon trellis
  • Porter tomatoes
  • Purple Hull peas

Seeds I have from last year:

  • English Peas
  • basil
  • dill
  • Lemon cucumber
  • zucchini
  • yellow squash

I selected these particular varieties either because they are for the south and/or heat tolerant;  or they are dwarf/mini plants i.e. the lettuces; or they are great container plants  i.e. the Patio Red Marconis and lettuces.  The ground cherry  I have been wanting to try for a jelly and the cucumbers for pickles.  The purple jalapenos sounded fun – they ripen to red – but the purple should be fun in a salsa.

Now if I can just get my seeds.  Are they here yet? Are they here yet?

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Kid in a candy store

Well it’s that time of year when I feel like a kid in a candy store.  No silly, Christmas is over, it’s seed catalogue time.  It’s that time of year when seed catalogues from all over the country fill your mailbox to overflowing.  See?


What to buy?  What to plant?  I see these gorgeous catalogues and I want them all.  ( As if I planted them they would all turn into fruits and vegetables).  Hey, some do and some don’t.  However, at this time I have great expectations. 

Last year was the first year I planted seeds in my garden and not transplants.   I decided I needed a light source for my seedlings and bought this light.


The light source is movable and can be lowered or raised depending on your seedlings.  This is important because if your light source is too far away from your seedlings, they will be tall and “leggy”. Why don’t you  ask me how I know this?

This year I am going to add a heat mat to aid in germination.  I also need to order some more peat pots to fill the system that I purchased.  If  I were buying a new one I would get larger pots, but since I have the small ones I will just stick with it.  They did just fine last year.  It may require transplanting an extra step as they get bigger and bigger.  I purchased these items at www.parkseeds.com.

The most important piece of information you will need to know once you have picked out your seeds is the last frost date for your area.  I just googled frost dates for zone 8b and found  that mine is March 17th.  Depending on the type of  seed you are planting, you will count back from your frost date for your seed planting date.   For example, let’s say your last frost date is March 20th and you want to start tomato plants indoors.  You would need to start your seeds 8 weeks before the last frost date which would be approximately Jan. 23rd.  There is a great gardening guide at Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds which I found very helpful.  You can find it at www.rareseeds.com/guide.  It was my gardening bible last year. 

Some seeds can be directly sown into the garden like peas, carrots, lettuce, squash and cucumbers to name a few.  Directly sown seeds are my personal favorite because I seem to have better luck with them.  Although last year my cherry tomato plants I grew from seed did very well.

But for right now, I am just enjoying trying to figure out what to buy.  Last year I bought English peas because I haven’t been able to find fresh ones at our farmers market (peas are delicate and don’t travel well).  I also bought a variety of tomato seeds ( way too many – this year will stick with 2 or 3) as well as zucchini, yellow squash, lettuce, herbs, purple hull peas and lemon cucumbers.

But just like a kid in the candy store, I am limited by that nickel in my pocket so I do have to use some restraint.  I am going to pick items that we eat on a regular basis and those that will fit into my pint-sized garden.


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