Saturday, August 22, 2009

Spring Seed Plantings

Maybe its the lovely weather we've had lately, or maybe I just need a bit of optimism in the garden, but today was time to start off my vegetable seed plantings for Spring.

I have a lot of seeds left from last year so no need to buy any more yet, and I enjoyed picking through and seeing what I could start off now. We have quite a mild climate here, mostly it is safer to wait until the soil is a little warmer before planting in the garden, however most veggies can be started off in pots now ready for planting out in 4-6 weeks. (Its only 9 days until Spring officially starts anyway!)

I prefer to grow from seed than buying seedlings for a few reasons - it is definitely more economical to grow from seed, depending on what you buy and the company you can often get 200 seeds or more in a packet costing around $3, whereas a punnet of just 6 seedlings of most things will cost around $4. Even factoring in a few failures you are still way ahead with seeds. Also you can choose non-hybrid, non-genetically modified, open pollinated and organic seed much more easily than finding seedlings of the same. By growing these types of food, you can then save your own seed if you wish for the next year, with a much greater chance of growing true-to-type plants. These types of seeds are also more disease resistant, hardier, produce over longer seasons, have more nutritional value and are tastier !!! (Have I convinced you to try yet??!!)

Some good online companies I have seeds from currently are --- The Lost Seed, Cornucopia Seeds, Green Patch Seeds and Diggers (Check out their websites by clicking on my links.) I have found The Lost Seed (based in Tassie) to be most generous and have loads of helpful info on their packaging including germination info and seed saving tips (do you know any other industry that tells you how to NOT buy their product again??!!!!)

I also have a few odd packets from swaps I have done with other seed-savers, and some seeds I saved myself from last year.

I use commercial seed-raising mix, and whatever I have for containers. The best I found (from many experiments last year!) are the containers from strawberries/alfalfa/cherry tomatoes etc, they already have the drainage holes and have their own little lid, which is handy until the seeds germinate.

So today I planted -----

Bush Beans -Cherokee Wax
Climbing Beans - Purple King
Climbing Beans - Blue Lake
Broad Beans (only 2 left from last year)
Vegetable Spaghetti/Squash (never tried it, but looks interesting!)
Butternut Pumpkin -Waltham
Watermelon - Moon and Stars
Beetroot - Rainbow Mix
Tomato - Grosse Lisse (full size)
Tomato - Tommy Toe (cherry size)
Cape Gooseberry - Golden Nugget

I have some more to plant but ran out of time today, lots of lettuce varieties and some more herbs, but will do that another time .... they will go direct into the soil.

So hopefully in a few weeks I will have a whole load of seedlings ready for planting into warm soil. Until then I will keep them covered on my back deck, and for the containers that don't have lids I will show you my incredible germination greenhouse-system ......

Yes, its a plastic bag. Came as excessive packaging from something or other. I think if I can't avoid plastic bags at least I can reuse them!

Works well to keep heat in without drying the soil out, with a few little breathe-holes. (If you use these, remember to take the pots out when the plants germinate or they can rot).

I always like to know what others are growing, and what works for you, so let me know!



Jacqueline said...

I like your propagating trays! We have something similar set up and spent the weekend putting seeds in - we'll be doing some more this weekend.

I know what you mean about how disheartening gardening can be when things don't grow. Our winter veg patch was pretty unproductive - we did get some things from it but it was in a too-shady position so everything was a bit stunted.

Also know what you mean about the chooken moonscape - things should regrow pretty quickly if you keep the girls in their new area as spring comes on. We use eucalyptus mulch for our paths - it beds down well and is soft and is a good weed suppressant.

I wonder what you can plant in that center patch? I guess it'll be trial and error but you might do well with berries (if you cover them with bird netting) and the spuds should like it a bit sheltered but really, we are novices too so I don't think I'm being much help. Maybe some of our more experienced gardening friends can help out with suggestions? I guess the main thing is to just get it covered again as quickly as you can. You could put some sheep poo down and cover the ground with your hessian sacks so that it is a bit protected then plant through them? We have a lot of exposed soil too and I've decided that I don't pull out weeds anymore, just plant around them as at least they keep the soil in tact

mountainwildlife said...

Cheers Jacqui- I think actually our whole backyard is too shady for anything much to thrive, thanks to neighbours enormous trees shading throughout the day :(
I posted over at ALS and had replies suggesting leafy greens/herbs in the middle, so I have done that and made another impromtu patch!
Only covers part, so lots still to do, but I agree about the weeds, seriously- at least they protect the soil and keep it intact.

Thanks for the tips :)

Mountainslife said...

Oh goodie! thanks for the seed sowing tips, perfect timing as I recently picked up some carrot seeds from the co-op (King West variety) and have a cherry-tom box saved up- might need a few more! And in an exciting development, we've been given the go ahead to have chooks!

mountainwildlife said...

Good news on the chooks Marty! Carrots are one of the few seeds that need to be sown direct into the ground, not into pots as they don't handle transplant. I grew the same variety last year, were pretty small but I didn't water them enough I think....
All learning isn't it? :)

dixiebelle said...

The punnets are a great idea for germinating seedlings in... last year I used a heap of plastic yoghurt containers, which we had to poke/ melt holes into. They were quite successful, except not having anywhere to plant the seedlings out to for them to keep growing (were going to use foam boxes in our rental property, but then found that may be toxic) BUT this year, we have an actual garden and vege bed's to plant things into! Very exciting!

dixiebelle said...

Oh, and had to add, I LOVE spaghetti squash! Best way to cook it is to boil or steam it until it is tender & starting to come apart from the rind (it resembles fine strands of spaghetti, sort of!) and then fork it off the rind, add some butter and cracked pepper and it is DIVINE! I also eat the cooked rind/ skin too, but it can be tough sometimes...