Here are some nice visuals of how our indoor seed starting has been progressing since we planted 4 weeks ago.
The greenhouses are becoming greener every day with the plants getting bigger and bigger. A lot of our seeds came up earlier than expected, or at the very start of the expected days to germination. As we are getting more sunny days, we are seeing some of our plants grow leaps and bounds in a day. The timing should be good to harden many of them off before planting outside in May.
The Marigolds were the very first thing to come up on March 8, 3 days after planting the seeds. Since then they have been growing steadily. We are excited to once again be adding them to our vegetable gardens. It will also be interesting to see if we end up having any that self-seeded last year as we left a few in for the winter, so the seeds could have fallen…we will see.
The Broccoli was also a pleasant surprise. According to the packaging, they should germinate in 7-10 days, but they started popping up on March 8 as well, just 3 short days after planting. They are also growing well and will hopefully be nice strong plants by the time they go into the ground. As you can see from the March 24 photo, most of the plants already have 3 leaves, so by the time they go in, they should have quite a few and will be able to suck up that sunlight.
Last year was my first year growing red cabbage and now I’m hooked! I like red cabbage added to salads, but also make Rotkohl, a german stewed cabbage dish that is a delicous side dish to schnitzel, perogies and so many other warm winter dishes. Plus, it is good for your gut, which is always a bonus! I will likely only grow 4 again this year, meaning I will have a few to give away to some family & friends. Like the broccoli, they were very quick to germinate, popping up 3 days after planting. They are doing well with each plant having 3 leaves now.
We had a large variety of Basil last year, our favourite being the Mammoth Basil. The plant not only grew large like a bush, but the large leaves go a long way in adding flavour to our favourite summer dishes. We decided to start some Mammoth Basil from seed this year. It came up slightly earlier than expected, at day 6, with the expected germination of 7-14 days. We may add some other basil to the mix, but will purchase that from a local nursery if we decide to do so. For now, the basil is growing steadily, however only about half the seeds we planted have germinated. I may do a second round of planting to see if we can get a few more plants going.
We planted 2 types of full-size onions from seed this year. A Borettana yellow onion and a Cabernet red onion. We have always planted from bulbs, but planting from seed has given us more options of the types of onions we would like to plant. We had read that growing onion from seed can sometimes be challenging, but so far the onions have been coming along nicely. Perhaps it will be more of a challenge when we need to transplant them from the containers into the garden bed. For now though they seem happy and are growing great. Most of the seeds we planted have come up, with only 1 or 2 not showing. They popped up at the early end of the expected germination date, 6 days after planting.
Last year was our first time growing celery and it was a fantastic addition to the garden. We enjoyed it throughout the summer, plucking stalks as we needed them, and the plant continued to grow new stalks. Kind of like Rhubarb. We were able to avoid woody, overgrown stalks until fall when the plant was struggling with the cooler temperatures. We went with the Tango Celery, which was the better of the two types we tried last year. Most of our seeds have come up, which is great, as we had planned to give some to friends who were wanting to try celery in their own gardens this year. The expected germination on the package was 20-30 days, and we saw ours come up 8 days after planting, which is way earlier than expected. They now have some extra time to grow before being transplanted into the garden.
Adding to our Allium genus in the garden, we have planted scallions, also known as green onion. They are great in so many summer salad recipes as well as other yummy dishes like cool egg salad sandwiches, that we just had to have them. In past years we have harvested the smaller heads of our growing onions and used them in the fashion of green onions, but this year we decided to do proper scallions for cooking use. We went with Ramrod Scallions and they popped up at the early end of the expected germination, 6 days after planting. So far they are growing wild and steady. We will likely give a few away to family and friends for their gardens as they will regrow if chopped and not pulled from the ground, so you don’t need a huge amount of them…certainly less than we have started!
Another Allium addition to the garden this year are shallots. I do a lot of cooking with shallots due to their delicate and sweet taste versus a normal onion which has a bit more of an aggressive heat to them. A quick pickle and they make an excellent topping to a summer salad or roasted with some garlic and brussel sprouts as an easy but tasty side dish. We did a Zebrun Shallot this year, which popped up at the early end of the expected germination time, 6 days after planting. So far they are growing steadily and happily.
Another of our flower options this year was our snap dragons. We went with a rainbow mix for the seeds, looking to have a lot of colour and variety. We may have gone overboard with how we planted them in the pots, but we did as the package said. Once they are larger, we may be able to separate them a bit, but if not, we are quite happy to add clusters of them to some of our barrels and flower beds. They came up earlier than the expected 10-21 days germination, 6 days after planting.
We have once again gone with 3 varieties of tomatoes this year, though we did switch it up a bit from last year. We have once again gone with some Romas because I like them due to not having as much juices in the middle of them. They make good sauces and for on sandwiches. We switched out the yellow pear tomatoes this year and are instead planting some Big Beef tomatoes. Kurt likes them a little better than the romas. Lastly we switched the Cherry tomatoes for Sweetie Pie tomatoes, which are still the smaller size tomato great for salads and snacking. They all started popping up 7 days after planting, which was the early side of the expected germination. I am once again going with my process of planting them in larger containers, but only filling them halfway to begin. As the tomato plants grow larger, I will add more soil. I found this to work really well and helped me avoid having to transplant the tomatoes part way through growing them prior to putting them in the garden beds. Hopefully they work as well this year!
Yes, yes, I know, they are similar to green onions, but technically they aren’t an onion at all, they are an herb. Therefore, they were added to our herb list. They are very delicate and offer a great flavour to so many summer meals. Last year my chives got lasered during the heat dome that hit fast and hard. This year, they will be planted in a better location with regular irrigation to hopefully avoid heat damage. I am also hoping that they get well established and come back year after year like my mom’s chive plant does. We will be developing a little herb garden down in the permanent beds, so many of our herbs will have an opportunity to come back year after year. They came up 8 days after planting, which is within the expected germination days according to the package of seeds we have,
Another addition to our upcoming herb garden will be sage. Oddly enough, we don’t eat a lot of fresh sage, so I only planted a few plants, but we do use ground sage during the winter to spice dishes. My hope is to get the sage well established and be able to dehydrate the leaves to grind down for our own sage powder for winter spice use. I may also have to try frying a few leaves this summer to see how it goes. I always see that on fine dining dishes, so it may be worth seeing if I like it….and if I can do it. Otherwise, ground sage will be just fine. The sage came up at the end of the expected germination time, 12 days after planting.
Our peppers were finally a success last year so we are really looking forward to them again this year. We have reduced down to 3 varieties this year, choosing not to do Anaheim peppers this year. We found that we didn’t really like them, so decided to just go with California Bells, Cayenne and Hot Hungarian this year. We are going to test out a few other store-bought peppers this year to determine if there are others we would like to grow in the future. It may be that these three are our go to, who knows. I am looking forward to dehydrating and grinding some cayenne this year so that we have cayenne powder to enjoy in the winter. I did dehydrate some this last fall and froze the dehydrated pieces to use in soups and chilis, which we really enjoyed.
The last of the flowers that we started indoors is the Sweet Peas. They were the last of the flowers to pop up, about 14 days after planting, smack dab in the middle of the expected germination. They are now the biggest of the flowers, growing steadily and quickly once they broke through the soil. Luckily they can withstand cooler temperatures so we are likely going to pot them soon with some bamboo trellis and place them in a sheltered area under the deck until they are established and can be put out in some more direct weather.
One herb that I want an abundance of is rosemary. I love it fresh off the plant due to its strong flavour and aromatics. Plus, the woody stalks make excellent skewers, flavouring the food from the inside. I planted a lot of rosemary, and so far only a few have popped up. I am reaching the expected germination of 21 days, and if no more come up, then I will likely re-seed some of the pots in the hopes of gaining a few more plants. The few that I do have, came up at 15 days and so far are growing well.
The last of the herbs that we are starting in the house is our dill. Last year it was nearly impossible to find and ridiculously expensive when we did. After bringing the seed package home, we noted that it said that dill does not transplant well, so we are wondering if that is why it was so hard to find. The only thing is, that we have always bought dill plants and have never started from seed in the garden bed…so what did we do. Planted some inside to start and will plant some seeds outside as well to see which plants to better. This is another plant that I am hoping will re-seed itself in the herb garden. We went with a Dukhat dill and it came up early, at 6 days, compared the the expected 10-21 germination period the package said.
The last of the indoor plants to successfully grow is the Cauliflower. Unfortunately, I was a bone-head and didn’t think to look at the date on the seed package we had. It was dated 2016, which meant that the likelihood of the seeds being successful was not great. I thought to check after the Broccoli and cabbage was doing so well. I thought it was odd that the cauliflower hadn’t come up. The next morning 2 came up. Unfortunately, only 1 has survived as the other one got stuck in the seed shell and I couldn’t get it off without harming the plant. I left it to see if it would figure itself out, but it didn’t. I ended up getting more seeds and replanted on March 17. I am patiently waiting for those to pop, but it is just now reaching the expected germination, so I’ll give it a few more days before I start to worry about the new seeds.
Overall, the little greenhouses that we have bought have been completely worth it. We are excited to have started most of garden from seed. Once the ground is a little warmer, we will be adding pumpkins, butternut squash, carrots, zucchini, cucumbers, corn, cantaloupe, beets (red & yellow), peas and potatoes to the vegetable gardens. We will also add some more dill from seed in the herb garden as well as cilantro and tarragon. To our flower beds we have an insect blend of wildflowers and some autumn beauty sunflowers to get started.
We will then do a small trip to the local nursery that we have used in the past to get some canna lilies and wave petunias for our flower planters. Who knows, we may also bring back some other plants if our new garden beds are ready. We are hoping to add some blueberry, blackberry & raspberry bushes to the new area, as well as asparagus and garlic patches. Check in for our next post, which will be an update about the final walls that we have to build. The ground is thawed so it is time to get working!