Friday, April 3, 2009

More plantings (Less poker)

Another day of changeable weather, yet a tad bit more sun than yesterday. The greenhouse thermometer read just shy of 70°F when I last checked.

As boring as it may seem to some, farmers talk about the weather so much because so much depends on it. For instance, it has been ten days since I started planting and have yet to get any seedlings popping up through the soil. I’m getting a bit worried that the temperature in the greenhouse has not been consistently warm enough for germination, even with the space heater. Like your veggies? Then allow us our indulgence in amateur meteorology.

The hippies from whom I ordered my herb seeds finally got their shit together. I picked up the box at the post office this morning, about 50 seeds packets in all. That may not seem like a lot, but when one considers that there are anywhere from 100 to 200 seeds in a pack, that’s a lot of plants. It’s a bit daunting. Adding to the dilemma is the size of some seeds. To plant one seed per cell would be a nearly impossible task. My fingers are too big and chubby to grab a single seed, and the light in the barn is not sufficient, even with a new bifocal prescription.

Besides, planting 6-packs with hundreds of seeds would take an eternity and a ton of soil. Instead, I open-seeded several herbs into trays and will transplant them into 4-inch pots at a later date. Provided these things grow, I’m going to have many more plants than I will need. Here’s the list:

Basil, Sweet Lettuce Leaf
Basil, Genovese
Sage, Garden
Savory, Winter – A perennial
Savory, Summer – An annual
Sweet Marjoram

I planted one tray of each. The sage packet contained 100 seeds. All of the others had 200 seeds. I will transplant the seedlings into 4-inch pots when they are about four inches tall. (Time to get more potting soil.)

Not all of the seeds are so incredibly small. Part of our buyer’s order is for Echinacea purpurea (Purple Cornflower) and Calendula. In that I can readily pick up a single seed, these went into 6-packs. I planted 4 trays of Echinacea and 3 of the Calendula.

The Purple Cornflower ranks right up there with my favorite flowers. Here's an interesting fact: the flowers are hermaphrodotic.

Field marigold (Calendula arvensis)
Calendulas are a source for a variety of herbal remedies, yet most gardeners plant them as an insect repellant.

(Both above photos courtesy of Wikipedia, the unsourceable source of choice.)

In yesterday’s post I wrote that I would be transplanting tarragon from our herb patch. Tarragon is an odd bird in that it doesn’t readily grow from seed (which begs the question of how it ever got started in the first place). The plant sends out runners, and these become your starts. We bought six small plants a few years ago, and now we have more than we know what to do with, so I had plenty of new little plants to harvest… or so I thought. The root systems for these runners are very sparse as the runners seem to rely more on the parent plant for nutrients. I did better with what would have been runners from two years ago. Even though they had stalks of dead old growth attached, they had plenty of new growth as well, and more importantly, had established their own root systems. We’ll see how these do. Fortunately, the buyer doesn’t want too many of these plants, as tarragon is not used very much in cooking. Why that is, I’ll never know, because it has a fabulous flavor.

A plant that has no trouble reseeding is parsley. We grow the Italian Flat Leaf variety, and if left to go to seed, the following year will find a lot of little parsleys growing around the parent plant. (Parsley is a perennial in this region.) I took advantage of this and dug up enough little babies to fill 54, 4-inch pots and an additional tray of 6-packs (36 cells). Like the chives I transplanted yesterday, if I need more, I know where I can get them.

Tomorrow: more seeds, and transplanting of Greek Oregano and French Sorrel. R moved his home game from Fridays to Saturdays, so there might be two posts by the time I go to bed tomorrow night.

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