Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Spring in New Hampshire

Tomatoes and broccoli and kale... oh my!
Spring has finally come here in New England, and I'm glad of it! I was beginning to despair. Our nights are ranging upward in temperature, and it looks as if we're past the freezing point on them. There will still be heavy frosts through until the end of May, but it's now safe enough to plant hardy things like peas, cabbage, spinach, and other leafy greens directly into the raised beds. It's nice to know we can finally start doing things out there!

Tomatoes are sun lovers
Today's temperature was 65F in the sun, with only a bit of a breeze, so I took our larger plants out for a two hour tanning session. This is the beginning of the "hardening off" process which will lead to the plants being put outside permanently. Tomorrow, if it's warm enough, they'll go out again, for three hours. Then four, then five. When they can be out all day, hopefully our nights will all be above freezing and I can start leaving them out but under cover of plastic or glass.

Cilantro, hiding
Most of the seedlings that I planted are doing quite well. I managed to break a couple of tomatoes today during the move from indoors to out, and I cursed myself, but then realized that I started enough tomatoes to feed a small army so we'll be fine. My cilantro is doing exceptionally well, and you can see it there amidst the tomatoes. I planted several more cells worth of cilantro today, because it's a well loved herb in our house and we use it fresh in salads, as well as in salsas and stewed tomatoes and such. I'm especially pleased because this is the cilantro seed that I gathered last fall, and it's making the most beautiful wee plants.

Basil, before...
Back at the beginning of the month, I planted a few cells of sweet and Genovese basil, and they all came up well. This little guy looked tiny in his transplant cup, as did most of the other herbs that I re-potted. The chives were just tiny strings of green, and my sage had only three or four minuscule leaves. They almost looked absurd in their new homes, because they were so small and the cups looked so huge. I'm wanting to encourage heavy growth, though, and so I wanted my herbs to have lots of room for growing strong, healthy root systems. I love having the herbs in the clear plastic cups, because I can actually see many of the roots once they've established themselves, and that allows me to know before they become root bound.

Basil, after!
Now, the tiny leaves have become much larger ones. They don't look quite so small, and now they aren't anonymous green things, either. It's obvious from both their look and their smell that these little guys are basil plants. Sometime next month, they'll be transplanted out into the big tire herb garden, to grow and multiply many times over.

Today, I ended up planting more chives, as well as a lot of other veggies. I planted organic sweet bell peppers, as well as cayenne and jalapeƱo peppers. They're under the warm re-purposed fishtank light, keeping them quite toasty. I started some red and yellow "pear" cherry tomatoes, which look to be very delicious. I can't wait to see how they turn out!

I also started green onions in toilet paper rolls. I thought that might be best, as they can develop long root systems before transplanting into the garden, and I don't have to disturb those roots as I can plant the entire roll right into the ground. I planted Mammoth sunflowers, Shasta daisies, more cabbage, some romaine lettuce (Parris Island Cos), some heirloom marigolds (auspiciously named "Naughty Marietta"!) and some snapdragons.

All in all, it was a pretty busy day. I'm so grateful to have both the time and the ability to start all these seeds for our garden. I hope to have a bumper harvest this year!

What sort of starts do you have? Do you go for organic seeds, or heirlooms, or just whatever you can pick up at the Dollar Store? Are you a flower person, or does edible landscape appeal more to your sense of design?

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