• Last spring my garden is alive after along winter sleep. Plenty of work to be done. Planted many vegetable seedlings grown in the greenhouse. Lettuce, carrot (sowed direct into the ground), collard, kale, Swiss chard, corn, pumpkin, potato, beet, summer squash, tomato and leek. The garden is doing great. Just yesterday I harvested several zuccinni. Right away I made zuccinni chocolate cake. It is always a joy to be able to harvest from your own garden and cook with the vegetable that you grow yourself. Gardening is an excellent exercise for body and mind. Regardless how big or small your garden is.
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Forsythia Welcoming Spring

 

Forsythia with its bright yellow flowers like a beacon in the dead of winter.    A deciduous shrub.  Branches can be forced indoor blooming in winter.  Tolerate most soils, likes sun, moderate feeding. I rarely feed the forsythia and yet they thrive beautifully. Height 8 feet to 10 feet, spread 6 feet to 8 feet.  Remove oldest branches, weak or dead wood.

 

The variety  I have is Forsythia Suspensa (weeping).  Dense upright growth, drooping vine like branches root when touch damp soil.  During winter remove the branches that took root and transplanted elsewhere.  You may use containers to plant the forsythia seedlings.

 

In summer the shrub will be a mass of green foliage.  Good for screening too.

 

Happy Gardening !

Forsythia Suspensa

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SEED STARTING

 

Growing your own seeds is fun and easy.   I have been sowing my seeds in the greenhouse for many years.  Timing is critical for success.  Soon I will be sowing peas in a reusable polystyrene trays with  individualized pyramid-shaped cells which virtually  eliminate transplant shock.   I have been using this type of tray for several years.  You may find the trays here http://www.groworganic.com/ , those mushroom containers, milk carton, tofu containers, yogurt/pudding cups,  they are all perfect for seeds starting.  First you need to clean the containers with a solution of 9 parts of water and 1 part of  chlorine bleach, followed by thorough rinse with water.  The picture on the left is the polystyrene tray where I sow garden pea seeds.

Need to remember too, peppers, eggplants, tomatoes are slow germinating.  You want this to start early, especially when summer is short in your area.  I sowed tomato seeds in March, peppers a little bit early in January.   The peppers have germinated well,  I spray them with chamomile tea to prevent damping off a fungus type disease.  Broccoli and cauliflower sowed in the greenhouse as well as herb seeds later this month.  The rest such as summer squash, pumpkins, lettuce, collard, kale,  carrots all directly sowed in the garden.
Use sterile soiless seed starting mixes.  Either you make them yourself or store-bought. Do not use garden soil as this contains weed seed, harbor diseases and tend to be muddy, hard and reducing germination and root growth.  Seed-starting mix containing sphagnum, vermiculite, limestone, and gypsum.

Read the seed packet for instructions and carefully determine when you have to start sowing, and  tinning the seedlings.  Germination can vary from few days to several weeks.  This depending on what variety of seeds you are sowing.  With my experience, you need to sow the seed thinly, over crowding will produce weak seedlings.  Into medium barely cover seed with starting soil and gently press into mixture.

Label and date each variety as you work.  This is important, if not you will forget which variety of seed you sowed.  Water lightly with a spray bottle.  Keep the soil moist as this important for gemination.  Then cover flats with clear plastic and keep out of direct sunlight. 

Remember to remove cover for an hour or two everyday to provide air circulation.  Most seeds germinate well between 70-75F.  I used heating cable that is buried under soil and the containers or flats I rest on it.  It worked well as long as you keep the heating cable on all the time.  Don’t forget to remove covers once 50 to 70% germinated.  Remove flats or containers from heat to prevent seedlings grow thin and leggy.

Place seedlings in a bright, sunny window or if you are lucky a greenhouse.  If you do not have adequate light use artificial light 12 to 14 hours each day.  I used plant fluorescent light in the green house after dusk.  I keep checking the seedlings for fungus disease.  This is their crucial time.  Seedlings require little fertilizer.  As they mature apply your favorite fertilizer


It is so much easier to thin seedling when they are larger. generally 1-2″ tall.  Thinning is necessary to prevent crowding.

Before transplanting in the garden, acclimate the seedlings outdoors 1to 2 weeks,  this is called hardening off.  Select spot out of direct sunlight and away from wind.  If nights are still cold bring them inside.  After several days, provide 3 to 4 hours direct morning or afternoon sun.  Gradually increase daily exposure to sunlight.

Move young plants to garden for transplanting preferably on cloudy day or late afternoon to minimize transplanting shock.   Set out hardy plants after heavy frost has passed.  Set out sensitive plants once night-time above 58F.  I covered sensitive plants with a sheet when the forecast called for low temperature.

Happy Gardening