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Getting Better with Time

March 20th, 2017

When it comes to edible gardening, one area I always felt like I struggled a bit was succession planting.  Sometimes I simply forgot to sow the additional seeds, other times my various sowings matured at the same time. Over the past few years, I noticed that it’s starting to become second nature to me and I’ve figured out a few things to make it work for me.

One of the things I learned was that it’s not always a good idea to start something “every two weeks” as the gardening books tell you. If the soil and the temperature is cooler, things grow more slowly and sometimes the later planting will catch up to the early one. Starting additional planting in flats indoors also makes them grow more quickly than those planted outside. If your first planting is just being planted in the garden, transplant shock and cooler temperatures can slow growth rate allowing the indoor seedlings catch up.

Perhaps this is only something that affect us northern gardeners, but after a few years I find that a three or four week schedule is often better than the two weeks most normally recommended. It also makes it easier to manage because I’m not doing it as often. It’s nice to be able to have fresh lettuce throughout spring/summer/fall, which is the main reason I have been trying to improve my success in this area.

Do you plant in succession to have a longer growing season? Do you have any great tips to share? Is this an area you struggle? 

Oh The Weather Outside is Frightful

March 16th, 2017

You’ve probably heard about the big blizzard we had roll through New England on Tuesday. It dropped 16-18 inches of snow outside, on the garden that was bare and thawed just last week. Snow in March isn’t uncommon, though this much snow is a bit of a surprise. That’s Ok though, I have loads of lovely plants under the grow lights.


The first batch of lettuce seedlings need thinning, that means I’ll have a homegrown salad later this week. The alyssum and violets are starting to germinate, I’m hoping they will provide some needed color very early this summer.

What’s growing under you grow lights?

Germination Notes

March 8th, 2017

Every year I watch closely as I start seeds, taking note of germination rates for new seed and old seed. Lettuce is one of those things that I started buying fresh each year after noticing reduced germination from even year old seed. This year, I purchased a few new varieties to try.


I noticed that one variety in particular has not germinated at all – zero seeds have germinated. With other varieties I have around 95% germination rate. Instead of writing them off (or writing the company), I decided to give them another go. Yesterday I seeded three more soil blocks of ‘Alkindus’ lettuce. I’ll keep my eye on them, if I don’t get any germination this time around I’ll definitely write the company and see if they’ve had similar complaints. Since I had such great germination of all other varieties in the flat, I know it’s not the conditions.

Do you have certain seed you buy fresh each year? Have you noticed decreased germination rates in old seed?

And They’re Off…

January 9th, 2017

The spicy microgreens I seeded under the grow light are growing. Obviously the flat I put on the heating mat germinated quicker, but the second try caught up quickly and they’re pretty much the same now. Which shows that with these the heat mat isn’t worth using.
spicy-microgreens-under-the-grow-light
These are supposed to be ready to harvest in 10 days to 2 weeks, as soon as the first set of true leaves appears. I’m anxiously watching and waiting to see how long it takes and what they taste like. While I’d never grow enough greens for an entire salad like this, they will be nice to add a bit of green to certain dishes, like fajitas, soups, or omelets. I’m thinking of seeding a tray of cilantro microgreens for enjoying on fajitas in a few weeks.

What’s growing in your house this winter?

Fall Seed Saving

November 2nd, 2016

While I clean up some of the garden I save seeds to things I’d like to have more of or grow from seed. Yesterday, I was cleaning out the dahlias in the potager and saw the ligularia seeds. I grabbed a bag and my pruners and saved a few seeds. A few were also scattered around the plant to see if they’d germinate on their own.
collecting-ligularia-seeds-1
collecting-ligularia-seeds-2
I look forward to hopefully growing a few plants for other spaces in the garden. My garden is very large and mass plantings look best. Since it’s expensive to buy plants, I’m starting loads from seed and dividing perennials as well.
Are you collecting any seed this fall while you clean up the garden?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but just recently moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine.

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