Spring has Sprung! A Month Early!

Garden peas and sugar snap peas were planted  a week ago! They should be up in about a week.

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Bachelor Buttons, Shasta Daisy, Pansies, Snap Dragons, Marigolds, Foxglove and other flower seed were planted in cell trays. Broccoli, Cabbage and Cauliflower were started as well.

Tomato and Pepper seed will be planted tomorrow.  Full production has started in earnest!

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Flowers have started to bloom. The Crocus and jonquils are showing their lovely blooms!

Watch for more gardening goodies!!!

Papa

What’s Happening?

Introducing our newest family member – Oakley (who doesn’t like her picture taken!) She is quite the lady and has started learning the skills of country life.

 

We like our birds!!!! A small showing of our “regulars”.

 

Hoop house growing! The spinach and cabbage remain delicious!

 

Let’s not forget Miss Kitty, our tomato transplant supervisor. As quick as the transplants were re-potted, she would playfully paw them out of the pot. She is a very curious kitty!!

 

Papa presenting at the Wabash Valley  Master Gardener Spring Conference in Terre Haute, Indiana. The topic , “Starting a Seed Saving Garden”. This wonderful group of dedicated Master Gardeners is very active in their community. Kudos to all your community service projects!!

Wabash Valley Master Gardeners

 

Spring  flowers are cheerful! It is a delight seeing colors once again! Real “eye candy” for the soul.

 

Papa

Need a Garden Planner?

A friend of mine has created an easy to use Garden Planner.

Why would I recommend this helpful tool?

If you are like me, it is good to use a planting schedule to keep on course.

Clyde has created a tool helping you visualize your planting dates for Spring and Fall planting.

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Visit his website Clyde’s Garden Planner

Watch the video on the website as Clyde explains this valuable tool.

This planner is well worth the investment.

Papa

Spring Has Sprung!!

Plants are blooming early this year in the Missouri Ozarks. Add to that some crazy temperature swings. This morning (Feb. 29) it was 26° and in the 70°s this afternoon.

Papa planted Sugar Ann snap peas in the hoop house.

Check out these veggies growing in the hoop house!!

The Cole crops (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage & collards) were started January 29 and are now ready to plant.

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Gardening is such fun!!

Papa

 

Time to Prepare, Time to Sow!

It’s the season to start your spring Cole (Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Kale, etc.) and cool season perennial seedlings for transplant. We have snow predicted for today in the Missouri Ozarks. Sounds like a great day to start seeds for March transplants.

Using clean flats and cell trays filled with soil-less potting mix and compost, plant 2 to 3 seeds per cell about 1/4 inch deep. Make sure to label the cell packs or small pots with the date and variety of plant.

Gently water the flats (We don’t want to wash out the seed!). Allow water to thoroughly wet the entire soil profile. Once the water has drained, you may now start to sow the seeds.

I place my seed and cell flats in an environmental chamber constructed from a shelving unit, thermostatically controlled electric heat mats and artificial lights. With this station, the perfect germination temperature and light requirements are met. In addition, plastic domes are a great way to create a humid atmosphere to enhance germination.

Usually cool season transplants require 4 to 6 weeks to reach the proper level of maturity to plant in the ground or other container.

This topic will be continued in the near future!

By the way, I will be attending and presenting at the 2016 Missouri Organic Association Annual Conference in Springfield, MO. The conference dates are February 4 – 6.

2016 Annual MOA Conference

See you there!

Papa

 

Seed Saving Tip

Have you saved seed from your vegetable garden or traded for seed during a seed swap? Have you provided space for them in your spring garden?

Here’s a tip worth your consideration. Find those seeds and start germination testing. Why? Germination of 50% or below should send you to your 2016 seed catalogs for replacements. Doing this now insures you will find the replacements available instead of “out of stock”.

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Save time and money as a low germination rate will require double the seed sown for an expected yield.

An easy technique for germination:

  • Gather paper towels and zip-lock bags
  • Moisten the paper towel
  • For large seeds a minimum of 10 seeds ( ie.: watermelon, gourd, winter squash, summer squash, sunflower, pumpkin, beans, peas)
  • For small seeds a minimum of 25 seeds ( ie.: eggplant, sweet pepper, hot pepper, tomato, lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, spinach)
  • Place seed in moistened towel with spacing between seeds and fold towel in half. Be sure to label the bag with the seed name.
  • Place in zip-lock bag and seal.
  • Place the zip-lock bag in a warm place providing temperatures of 70-85 degrees.
  • Check the bag every 3-5 days for signs of germination.The seed coat should be bursting and either a plant shoot should be on the top of the seed and/or a root on the opposite end.
  • All the seeds in the bag should germinate at the same rate of time for the seed type.germination600
  • A 50% germination rate for 10 seeds would be 5 seeds.
  • A 50% germination rate for 25 seeds would be 13 seeds.

Any questions? Do not hesitate to contact me!!

Papa

 

Sweet Peas for the Sweet!!!

Now is the time to start Sweet Peas for winter and early spring production. Sweet Peas (Lathyrus odoratus) are members of the legume family Fabiaceae which hail from Southern Italy, Sicily and the Aegean Islands.

Henry Eckford of Scotland is responsible for the incredible crosses which produced many of the famous heirloom varieties known today. The noted beauty and fragrance is a direct attribute of the careful breeding by Eckford in the late 1800s through 1906. The breeding production of today focus on stem length and lasting abilities of cut flowers.

Sweet Peas require scarification (nicking or abrading the seed coat to enhance seed germination). Warm water soaking of the seeds may also enhance germination.

Use a nail file or nail clippers to nick the seed coat. The nicking or “chipping” will speed up the germination process. By the way, this is a tedious process. Make sure you give your self plenty of time to keep on schedule for your planting area.

Planting in large cell packs or 4″ pots for transplants is a proper way to plant exactly where you desire. Start the process by using a soiless soil mix with generous compost added. Make sure the soil is adequately moist and plant the seed 1″ deep. I usually plant two seed per cell or pot. Once planted, water in the cell packs/pots and place where the soil temperature is  65° to 68° (F). I know that sounds pretty cold but that is what sweet peas prefer.

The correct germination temperature will insure proper germination in 7 to 10 days. When most of the seeds have germinated move the seed flats to a much cooler area (45° to 55° (F)). A mildly heated greenhouse, coldframe or hoop house will do the trick. Sweet pea seedlings can take it down to 32° (F). The added benefit is stronger and cold tolerant seedlings.

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Sweet peas may be bothered by aphids when planted outside. The aphids spread disease and stunt the plants and subsequent production. The other area for concern is powdery mildew. Powdery mildew is caused by too much shade and poor air movement. Watch cultural practices (such as full sun and planting further apart to provide air circulation) to prevent the scourge of this pernicious disease.
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Be careful with sweet pea seeds! They are toxic for consumption. If you have small children the seeds could be enticing!

I will keep you posted on future development.

Papa

 

Why Does the Pepper Seed Take So Long to Germinate?

I started my peppers at the same as the tomatoes. Some of the peppers did not come up until 2 weeks later than the tomatoes. Why is this happening?

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Peppers are related to tomatoes, but have different requirements for germination. Sweet pepper requires a germination temperature of 75° – 80° (F). The seed trays benefit from being covered with plastic domes or plastic wrap to retain humidity until germination. A minimum of 6 hours of sunlight will allow your seedlings to have shorter, stockier stems.

To meet these requirements you will have to supply:

  • Heat source
    • On top of the refrigerator, where the defrosting coils are located.
    • On top of an electric water heater.
    • A wire shelf with an incandescent light fixture placed underneath.
    • A thermostatically controlled electric heat mat placed under the flat.
  • Light source
    • Natural sunlight – 6 hours minimum
    • Artificial light
      • Fluorescent fixture – seed trays 1 inch from the bulbs for 16 hours a day
      • LED fixture – seed trays 1 inch from the bulbs for 14 – 16 hours a day
  • Humidity retention source
    • Clear plastic wrap stretched over seed flat
    • Clear plastic dome placed over flat
  • Soil
    • Soil vs. soilless mix
    • Jiffy planter pellets – peat moss or coconut coir
    • Soil blocks made from compost and other natural amendments (blood meal, bone meal, green sand, rock phosphate, etc.)
  • Water
    • Tap water
    • Well water
    • Filtered water
    • Rain water

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Hot peppers require a germination temperature of 80° – 85° (F). The hotter germination temperature is necessary for tropical pepper types. Some varieties such as Ghost Pepper, Habanero and Trinidad Scorpion (all 3 are Capsicum chinense) require a longer germination time. You need patience to grow these types of hot pepper. You may be able to speed up the germination process by soaking the seed overnight. By re-hydrating the seed, the plants may emerge more quickly!!

The basic requirements for hot pepper are the same as the sweet pepper mentioned above.

Papa