So, Albanyish people…got your seeds started? After a late start last year I tried to get mine started on time this year and mostly succeeded, I think. I got them going last week and most have germinated, including most of the tomatoes, which I didn’t try last year.
Most things are popping up all over here, in fact some are so responsive that I need to cull out the weakest from some of the herds already.
The only layabouts are the chocolate cherry tomatoes, cantaloupes, and…well…all of the peppers.
The goal, of course, is much fresh veggie chomping during the late summer and early fall and canning. The reason I mention what’s going on at this point is because these little seedlings will be starring in some recipes and photos later in the year.
I again got all of my seeds from Gurneys, some new stuff to supplement seeds I had left from last year. The plan, which I have no idea how I’m going to implement with my small garden (hello pots!), is to grow:
Buttercrunch and Black Seeded Simpson lettuces: I grew the Simpson last year with great results – it came up fast and lasted well, I got multiple plantings in the early and late parts of the year. I’m going to try the Buttercrunch to supplement it, I like the idea of a mild lettuce and heat tolerant is good – assuming we actually get a hot summer. These will be direct seeded in pots once it warms up.
Roma II bush beans: I grew the Early Contender bush beans two years ago and they did pretty good, plenty for us to eat. I didn’t actually plan on growing them last year, I just sort of threw a few seeds in the ground in between some other stuff, figured if it grew, fine. Boy, did they grow. Some stuff did nothing last year, as you know if you were gardening in the area. But the beans – wow! They literally just kept coming. Every time I thought those half-dozen plants had exhausted themselves I’d do a check a few days later and bring in another double-handful of big, beautiful beans. I’m sorry to admit that eventually I had to stop, we just couldn’t consume anymore. I made a jar of dilly beans, but haven’t cracked it yet to see how they are, but we sure ate beans last year. I decided to try the Roma II’s this year, highly rated on Gurney’s site, good taste, and supposedly good for canning, so I could can extras. I froze some that grew in ’11, but I just wasn’t thrilled with them from the freezer, they were tasty enough, but the way their skin peels off, etc, it was just a turnoff. These will be directly seeded in the garden when warm.
Miss Pickler pickling cukes: I love these picklers. They did great two years ago and so-so last year, which is to say ‘fantastic’ given how crummy last year was for cukes (see below). They make great pickles and extras/hideaways that get too big are tasty in salads. I mostly grow them for pickling and got just barely enough to pickle enough last year. Let’s face it, if you want to make pickles, you need to be growing picklers. Even with so many farmers markets popping up, too often their picklers were picked the day before or earlier and are no longer crisp, are too big, etc. Unless something comes up, I pick and pickle the same day, ideally I bring in cukes in the afternoon/evening and immediately slice and can them. It’s just a jar or two at a time so I process them in an asparagus pot from Bed, Bath, and Beyond (thanks to Food In Jars for that tip) and they’re done. I know, it’s better to pick and process immediately in the morning, but I can only do that on the weekends (and d0) – sometimes I pick in the morning and pop them in the crisper until after work, that works out OK. These will be direct seeded in the garden and shortly thereafter my annual battle with the cucumber beetles will begin.
Straight Eight slicing cukes: I’ll give these another try after getting exactly zero edible cukes last year. But I blame the weather, a lot of people had terrible luck with cukes last year. The plants started out OK, then just did nothing – a few mutant specimens, but that’s it. Seeds will go straight into the ground.
Snow Crown cauliflower: We’ve really started loving cauliflower in the past few years (recipe later when we start eating them again), and even growing them at home we’ll eat so much that we’ll buy one probably about weekly at the Greenmarket. I planted 3 plants for the heck of it last year and got edible heads from all three (although two came at once and we didn’t manage to eat the last one), much to my surprise. So this year I decided to get some seeds and give them a whirl. They germinated shockingly fast. No clue what to do with them, I might see about planting them in pots, they take up so much room in the garden.
Coronado Crown broccoli: Mostly on a whim here. Bought seeds last year, but they never did anything. This year they germinated at light speed along with the cauliflower. We’ll see how it goes. I’m guessing it will go badly since I didn’t do much research before starting them, but I’ll take this year as a learning curve for them.
Oregon Sugar Pod II snow peas: A favorite of my wife, I only eat them in stir fries. Figured I’d give them a shot. They’ll get seeded directly in the garden.
Crimson Sweet and Sugar Baby watermelon: These are just for kicks. I don’t think we really have ideal conditions for watermelon and probably not enough sun, but what the heck, I can get packets of seeds for less than the cost of one melon at the supermarket and see what happens. Grew just the Sugar Baby seedless last year and hilariously got about three teeny-tiny melons. One was big enough to get a melon ball scoop from each half, the others never really ripened. That bite was good, though! I direct seeded them last year, so I’m trying to give them a leg up this year by starting the seeds indoors 2 months before moving them outdoors. They’re just starting to germinate. I also got some seeded Crimson Sweet seeds this year, they’re also germinating now. Not seedless, but seeded are supposed to be easier to get to grow. We’ll see.
Peppers on parade: No new seeds this year, I had leftovers from last year I’m using. They’re all planted already, but not doing much so far that I can see. There are sweet bananas, jalapenos, and a bell mix. The bells are just supposed to be a variety of colors, we did get some last year and they were tasty. I LOVE the sweet bananas pickled in a sweet brine, I use them all the time on hot dogs instead of relish, now. I also put them in my salads and, when fully gripped in their sirens song, on all sorts of other things. I got enough last year to pickle a good amount. The jalapenos did so-so last year. I got enough to make a few jars of tasty candied jalapenos, but not a lot of extras. A couple to put in some salsa that got canned, that’s all.
And, last, but FAR from least, the tomatoes. First time I’ve tried them from seed, if it doesn’t work well I’ll just have to buy plants. I’ve been lucky enough to avoid the tomato plagues the past couple of years that have torn through the big box tomato plants, but this way maybe I can further remove myself from that threat. For a few years I’ve been planting enough Romas to make a year’s worth of pasta sauce to can, so I decided to try for the seeds this year. They’re germinating nicely. I often also plant some cherries or grapes, depending on what looks good when I see the plants, I like them in salads, my wife doesn’t really care for them so much, so I just plant what I like. As much as I like a big, juicy beefsteak sometimes, I just can’t eat that many tomatoes, so I don’t grow them. I can always pick some up at the Greenmarket to satisfy a craving. The small ones just produce and produce and if you pick them they’ll keep for a while so I can try to eat them all. I picked out a couple of interesting options to try – Chocolate Cherries and Jelly Beans. The Jelly Beans are just a tasty little grape tomato, a favorite of mine for snacking and salads or just as a dinner side dish. The chocolate cherries are just interesting looking, “brick” red with brown shading, they’re supposed to be tasty. For the cost of a few tomatoes I decided to give them a shot. Neither of these are germinating with much enthusiasm, but they’ve got time.