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April 22, 2013 Post Produce: Almost There!

lettuce seedlings under lights

These lettuce seedlings aren’t doing well under lights. My guess: the seed starting soil I used wasn’t very good. I bought a brick of starting soil at a nursery four years ago, and seeds I started in that have thrived. These lettuce seedlings are in soil I bought in Ithaca when I was desperate to get the growing season started. The seedlings will be far happier when I set them in the garden today or Tuesday.

This month’s Post Produce isn’t about produce I’m eating from my garden. Rather, it’s about produce I WILL eat! We’re having a most “normal” spring in central Pennsylvania, meaning spring crops are just barely underway.

My peach trees are in bloom, but the apples look barely awake. Pear blossoms are about to burst. Rhubarb is far enough along that were I desperate enough I could harvest some, but I think I’ll hold out a week or two and let the stalks grow to full-length. Raspberry plants I set out last fall are putting out growth despite having been severely pruned by wild animals during the winter. Blueberry plants are also showing signs of life. Oh, and oregano, thyme, sage, lavender, and tarragon have all sprouted new leaves. If the weather is good when I wake up today, I’ll photograph the perennials for a follow-up blog post. Until then, I’m talking vegetables.

onion seedlings under lights

I posted about Walla-Walla onions on April 5th, and promised I was about to start a second tray of seeds. Here’s the second tray, and the seedlings look great—though there’s plenty of algae growing on the soil. Algae doesn’t usually cause problems but it may indicate the seedlings have gotten too much water.

When I Plant Vegetables

Despite the lift my perennials provide, annual vegetables hold much more of my attention in early spring. Two weeks ago, I planted 28 foot-rows of pea seeds directly in the garden. Many of those seeds have sprouted, but there are gaps I’ll fill by pressing fresh seeds into the soil. Also, I expect to plant another 14 foot-rows of peas TODAY!

I wish I already had lettuce, spinach, and mustard seeds in the garden, but I’ve been distracted (see the box, Missing Spring if you want to know why.)

Missing Spring

Perhaps you’ve already heard this story: My dad moved out of our family home of 51 years and I’ve been spending about 2 out of every 3 days in Ithaca, NY making repairs and improvements, emptying the house, and otherwise preparing it for rental. Despite that, I’m trying to establish my vegetable garden as I do every spring.

I’ve started several sets of seeds indoors and my wife has taken on the burden of keeping them alive while I’m out of town. When seeds fail, I’m not here to react quickly, so there may be unfamiliar gaps in this year’s selections. Worse: cool weather crops could already be out in the garden, but most of them aren’t. On two of my last two trips home, I ended up sick and accomplished very little.

Had this been spring of 2012, I’d be uncomfortably behind. Thankfully, the slower onset of warm weather this year has kept me in the game and I anticipate getting my cool weather crops planted by midweek… assuming I don’t fall ill. Spending so much time in Ithaca makes me feel as though I’m missing spring.

Seeds I planted indoors under lights have had enough time to prove themselves. Many have failed, but far more are growing strong. Tomorrow I’ll start seeds to replace the failures, and a few more I wanted to start two weeks ago before I ran out of time. Photos show where things stand.

Now You Post!

I get very excited as my seedlings emerge; there will be fresh vegetables in less than a month! What about you? Are you already harvesting pounds and pounds of delicious produce, or are you merely anticipating? Post about your homegrown produce and use the Linky Widget at the end of this post to link to yours.

tomato seedlings under lights

I planted 46 tomato seeds two weeks ago. Here’s what sprouted: Glory of Mechelon—3 of 3. Moonglow—5 of 5. Chili-pepper-shaped paste tomato—9 of 15 (from 2-year-old seeds). Indigo Rose—5 of 5. Mortgage Lifter—7 of 7. Dutchman—6 of 8 (But they’re tiny! The short ones in the photo are Dutchman at about one-quarter the height of the other varieties.) White Queen—2 of 3. I’ll start 23 more seeds later today to fill in for ones that didn’t sprout. Also: my earliest-planted tomatoes—Stupice—look about to die. They’re in the same inferior soil that holds my lettuce seedlings, so I’m thinking to start eight more though it’s kind of late for them to demonstrate cold-hardiness. (Stupice are a short-season variety and I was hoping to get an early harvest.)

pepper seedlings under lights

My pepper starts have been finicky as they always are. These seem to have been over-watered in my absence which has never helped in past years. Still, some are strugging along: Orange King Bell—6 of 8. Purple Jalapeno—1 of 5. Sweet Italian—5 of 5. Poblano—0 of 5. I intended to start two trays of peppers in the first place, but it looks as though I’ll add two more. As the soil in this first tray dries, the poblanos might just wake up and I’ll end up with too many seedlings.

Use the Linky here and add a link to your Post Produce post. Share what you’re eating or what you plan to eat from your own garden:


5 Responses to “April 22, 2013 Post Produce: Almost There!”

  • Sue:

    I only wish I had SOMETHING to share. We’ve been stuck in endless winter. But I sure enjoy reading about the lucky folks that have things up and growing.
    Though I hate this endless gray and cold, I’ll take it over last years’ TOO early warm-up (and subsequent killing off!). I’ll get there………………eventually! LOL!

  • I, too, ended up with some bad soil this year. Most of my seeds did really poorly. I was able to save a few when I finally figured out what the trouble was, but many of the seeds had to be replaced with starts from the store. Down here, I didn’t have the luxury of re-starting the seeds. I would have missed the window before the onset of summer that is too hot for the plants to grow.

  • My first Post Produce! I tried last month but I was too late.
    We had a great salad from the re-sprouted fall planted lettuces. We had some kale the other day from the fall plantings that made it through the winter. But it had now started to flower, so I’ll let it go and collect the seeds.
    Last month I harvested the overwintered carrots.
    Our March planted kale, spinach and lettuces took it’s time germinating, but they finally did and are doing nicely. It will be a few weeks before I can harvest any of that.

    Happy Earth Day!

  • Hi Daniel!

    I shared about mint, because it seems I’ve been harvesting that all month, and getting tons of it. I lost a bit of it, but live and learn–and mint is so prolific, there is always more! Thanks for the invite on the HBN page!


  • lovely post everything is slow here but I did plant some basil yesterday and reported my curly parsley and made 3 extra plantlets out of it

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