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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?

Bean Seed Trials

June 28th, 2016

I found some old seed for the same variety of beans that I purchased fresh seed for this year. Instead of throwing it away, I decided to plant it along with the new seed to see how the old seed compared to the new.
bean seed trials
As you can see from this photo, the old seed didn’t germinate as quickly and not as well. It’s a great illustration of the importance of starting with fresh seed and not trying to use up old seed in the garden. This is especially important if your garden is small, there’s no reason to waste space by trying to use up old seed.

Have you noticed reduced germination rates with older seed in specific varieties?

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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 moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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