The Slowcook at Spydog Farm The Slowcook at Spydog Farm


March 14th, 2010 · 2 Comments · Posted in garden

Welcome to the world

Welcome to the world

The miracle of seeds sprouting never gets old. Only the annual ritual of showing photographs of seeds sprouting gets old.

Did you know that seeds are actually little embryos, waiting to be born? All they need are the right conditions: moisture and warmth. Some, like these tomatoes, need more warmth than others. I sprouted these in seed trays on top of a special heat matt. Radishes, and other members of the brassica family, will happily germinate in much cooler temperatures. They can be planted directly in the ground as soon as the soil can be worked.

I’m a little behind some of my other gardening friends with tomato seedlings. Sylvie, over at Rappahannock Cook and Kitchen Gardener, planted her tomatoes (all 144 of them) on the 22nd of February. She likes to eat tomatoes out of the garden in June. And that, really, is the only reason for us here in Zone 7 to be planting things in seed trays this time of year: to extend the season. When I first started gardening, I planted all my tomato and cucumber seeds directly in the ground and we had wonderful results. Of course, by starting seeds in trays, you eliminate a lot of guess work as far as which seeds will actually turn into plants.

I’m planting five varieties of tomatoes this year, my favorites–Mortgage Lifter (resistant variety), Cherokee Purple, Dr. Carolyn and Roma–plus Green Zebra, at my wife’s request. (Note to all of you out there who think Brandywine is the best : I still don’t get it. We’ve grown Brandywine, and it was never better than an average tomato.) We tried Green Zebra before and it did horribly. But my wife promises to pamper this one. I’m also starting a greater variety of peppers–bell peppers, hot chili peppers, jalapeno peppers–and several dozen eggplants. Now that we have a method of preserving eggplant we really like, we can’t grow too much eggplant.

The only trouble is, I don’t have a grow light. That means chasing the sun from one window to the next, and eventually carrying the seed trays in and out of the house when it’s warm enough.

What we won’t do for our garden.

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  • Sylvie

    I don’t use “grow” lights, just a few inexpensive shop lights, hung on chains from the ceiling (so I can raise the lights over the plants as they grow). They make a world of difference to the seedlings: turn them on when I get up, turn them off when you go to bed.

    We now have a green house (albeit not heated very much), so as soon as the true leaves show, seedlings are off to the greenhouse. But before we had a greenhouse, cold frames were my friends. Put on top of a bed of hot manure, they provided all the warm & lighted environment I needed for the tomatoes & pepper seedling from late March on. It was pretty amazing.

  • espringf

    I’m with you on the Brandywines. So-so flavor, always cracking, and more tomato than two of us can eat in one sitting.