NO GREENHOUSE, a tiny house, and various other obstacles notwithstanding, I’m madly coaxing along one crop after another of seedlings over here. Want a little tour of how to start seed indoors (well, at least Margaret’s improvised method, that includes some outdoor steps, too)? [read more…]
How to grow vegetables and garden flowers from seed.
PLANTING PEAS—that first traditional first task of each new food-growing year—took on new significance this spring. I’d just finished watching a lecture on Gregor Mendel and his pea-breeding experiments in an online biology class I’m taking, when the snow finally melted and the soil warmed enough—well, almost enough— to have at it. The peas I like best, and how I plant them, all with a new reverence for the genetics built into a single Pisum sativum seed: [read more…]
MAYBE YOU’RE WONDERING this about now: Why do vegetable seedlings stretch and grow spindly sometimes, and how can you prevent it? That was how I began a note to Dr. Thomas Nils Erik Bjorkman, Associate Professor of Crop Physiology at Cornell, seeking an answer to a question I’m asked a lot. He’s a botanist whose research focuses on the effects of environmental stimuli on plant growth and development, particularly in vegetables. So I asked him what’s going on—are the leggy seedlings reaching for light, or is something else at work? (I couldn’t resist sharing the mung-bean time-lapse video, above…though probably not what you’re sowing at the moment.) [read more…]
FEAR OF STARTING FROM SEED dramatically limits the choice of plants you can grow, but many of us nevertheless afraid to try. Ken Greene, my guest this week on the public-radio show “A Way to Garden With Margaret Roach” and co-founder of Hudson Valley Seed Library seed company, encourages us to just do it, offering tips to foster success. Wonder how deep to plant, or how many hours of light to offer, or about succession sowing? Read (or listen) on–and maybe come join us in person when Ken comes to my town to talk heirlooms and seed saving on March 23. [read more…]
HURRYING TO THE STARTING LINE can make for mishaps such as false starts, so don’t. That’s my best advice on when to sow what seeds for this year’s garden, but I know it isn’t very specific. To zero in on just what date you should sow your tomatoes indoors or put your peas in the ground, I’ve rounded up some calendar tools that can help, including a new one just sprouted by my friend Dave Whitinger of All Things Plants. [read more…]