Sunday, March 17, 2013

Gardening 2013 - Seed Starting Part 1

It's just about seed starting time again! But before I start getting out the trays and warming mats it would be nice to know what the state of last year's seeds is. Fortunately, it's easy to find out which are still good and which need to be replaced. All you need is a paper towel, a gallon size baggie a sheet of paper and a pen.

Start by placing your seeds in rows of 10 on the paper towel. You want to go a bit less than half way across the towel so you can fold it over later. I've marked the top with a "T" in case it gets turned around. As you place each row, note what it is on the sheet of paper.

When you've placed all your seeds, carefully fold the other half of the towel over the seeds and sprinkle it with water. You want it completely wet, but not dripping.

Finally, slip the wet towel and seeds into a large plastic bag and fold the open end under to close it. Put is someplace dark and a little warmer the room temperature.  (I've been using the top of our refrigerator for decades.) Put the sheet of paper with the seed names on top of the plastic bag and forget about it for a week.

One week later, pull out the paper towel and see what you've got. As you can see, it can get a little messy. If you're lucky you'll be able to separate the paper towels. That wasn't the case for me this year so I just held it up to the light so I could count the seeds that had germinated. This year I ended up with:

Cima di Rapa7

So I can toss my remaining eggplant and spinach seeds. The rest I'll just double up when I start them in trays in another week or so. Some seeds don't keep well, so I've got new supplies of peas and zucchini and I'll be trying a new variety of pepper, "Lombardo", a long thin Italian frying pepper. Of course we'll be growing San Marzano tomatoes again and this fall we should have our first crop of saffron from the bulbs we planted last year. I'm also going to try to grow some winter squash since I grown rather fond of the Winter Squash Soup from The Complete Bocuse.

Now I have to go clean up the seed starting area, wash the trays, and see what I've lost and what I still have.

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