East Sac Edible


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Seedling and Garden Updates

DSC_0725 DSC_0726DSC_0732 DSC_0733 DSC_0734A few weeks ago, my seed starting operation was in full swing and I was at a tipping point of having too many seedlings and nowhere to put them! I have a heat mat which can hold four trays of seeds. Each tray can hold 8 six-packs of seeds although I only use space for 7 for easier watering access. I start fast growing things such as lettuces, spinach, kales in six-packs. I start bigger plants in larger containers mainly because I want to do as little up-potting as I can before the plants go out in the ground.

At the beginning of March, my problem was that I have three trays on my grow light system and it was filled to the max. This means I had to do a lot of shuffling around when my newly sprouted seeds come indoors to the grow lights. My top tray is for seedlings in their first week of life and as the plants grow bigger they get kicked down to the medium tray and finally to the bottom tray. I have rigged the lights on each level at various heights. Now the problem lies with the lowest tray which has the tallest plants. These plants look big enough to be transplanted outside but one always worries about the impending last frost (that may or may not happen). So a few plants are now bravely outside.

DSC_0735Last weekend, I finally got out and added some plants into the ground. I first sifted my large compost pile and dug big holes into the ground. I put in a huge bucketful of my compost into each hole, added egg shell powder and some E.B. Stone Tomato and Vegetable Food into each hole. DSC_0723DSC_0740DSC_0741DSC_0742DSC_0743DSC_0744DSC_0745DSC_0746

After preparing the soil, I planted some tomatoes. My front yard has a little strip of land between my driveway and my neighbor’s. This would normally would be non-productive grass but I converted the space to be one of my main tomato beds. Amongst the lavender and fruit trees I planted 5 tomato plants. I used one of my raised beds in my backyard for the rest of the tomatoes.

Here are the varieties of tomatoes I have in the ground so far:

  • Hillbilly
  • Fox Cherry
  • John Baer
  • Better Bush
  • Moonglow
  • Persimmon (2)
  • Big Boy
  • German Pink
  • beefsteak
  • Black Krim

I interplanted tomatoes with basil, borage and nasturtiums. I am really hopeful that this year is my year for tomatoes since last year was so pathetic. I’ll keep you all posted on the progress. Wish me luck!

Here are a few photos from my garden today:

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I haven’t been good about my garden tally lately but February was a one-veggie-harvest. All I harvested was kale! I have been eating about 4 cups of kale a day in my delicious kale caesar salad which has completely stripped my Lacinato plant bare. I had to give it a rest and let it grow a bit so it was the first month I actually had to BUY kale. All to feed my kale habit. March added lettuces and strawberries to the harvest. I’m looking forward to my upcoming harvests!

 

 

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Starting Seeds

DSC_0612 DSC_0613I always like to start some seeds in January to give my seedlings a good healthy start before I set them out. Last week I cleared off my work bench in the garage to make room for my heat mat. I started many varieties of lettuce, kale, pepper, basil and tomato. As the seeds germinate I move them indoors under my grow lights. Once the seeds have germinated I make sure to remove them from the heat because the heat can damage the young roots and the plants will not thrive. Heat really only aids in speeding up the germination process and then after that the seedlings need light. I move the plants indoors because my garage is just too cold for the young plants.

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This is my second year using the heat mat and grow lights system. The year before I tried to start seeds indoors and just put them by the window but they got very poor light. Last year the grow light system really gave them the boost they needed so they didn’t become spindly plants. Since the lights are on a pulley system, I am able to move the lights close to the plants and retract the lights as the plants grow taller.

I keep track of everything I start with dates of when I sow seeds, when they germinate and when I transfer them outside. I also keep notes on how well the plants do during the season so I can keep track of whether I am starting seeds too early or transplanting them too early. I especially like to keep track of what worked well (rather than what failed) so I can repeat the same timing from the year before. This also helps in succession planting because I always try to have something in the ground. For example, I noticed planting turnips before tomatoes works great because turnips are quick and out of the ground before the tomatoes are big enough to go in.DSC_0615 DSC_0617

Last week I also started some seeds directly outside. After amending the beds, I planted Green Arrow Peas, carrots, various turnips (Purple top, Shogoin, and Mikado), and beets (Red Baron, Early Wonder, and Detroit Red). I had put a layer of leaf mulch on top of my raised beds a few months ago and while the bottom layer was pretty well decomposed, the top layer was still a visible layer of leaves. I just dug these into the soil so I am a little worried about them tying up the nitrogen as they decompose. Hopefully it wont affect the growing seedlings!