‘Tis the season for chicks!

I guess it’s appropriate that my first post of the year is always of either chicks or newly planted seeds. This time it’s both. Our six new Ameraucana chicks arrived yesterday, a day old, and this morning proudly stood for their first portraits. Nearby sat the pots in which I just planted seeds for tomatoes (my favorite heirlooms: Large Red and…

The Only Reason You’ll Ever Need to Start Your Own Tomato Plants

Here in USDA Zone 7, this is the week for starting tomato plants indoors. They’ll have seven weeks to grow inside before the last expected frost, enough time to get big and robust but not so much time that they’ll outgrow their 3″ pots and the space allotted for them at my south-facing windows! Starting your…

Starting Onions

Here in Zone 7, January is the time for starting onion seeds indoors: two months before the last expected frost. I got mine planted a little over a week ago, and the shoots are already green and unbending towards the sun. (When an onion seed first germinates, its stem is folded over with both ends…

It’s Not Paranoia If…

Back in January, at seed-ordering time, I wasn’t sure if my plan for extending the vegetable garden by 1200 sq. ft. in one season was going to be feasible. Since I dig a new bed three times in order to kill the sod, that’s a lot of hand digging. But it turned out we had…

Rhubarb from Seed

A couple years ago, I spent the summer on a farm in Brittany, France, doing some gardening, raising some chickens, and picking baskets and baskets’ worth of fresh fruit from the trees and bushes tucked around the property. There was a wild-looking, unstaked raspberry patch about 4′ by 6′ that yielded bowl upon bowl of…

Asparagus, Part 3: Xmas Tree Farm

Gazing at my asparagus seedlings this morning, I realized that the last time I posted about them, they were just barely emerging from their seed coats. I was burying them in pots of dirt, worrying if I’d ever see or hear from them again. Well, I have–half of them, at least. 13 out of the…

Asparagus Experiment, Part 2: Germination?

Ten days ago, in what I dubbed The Great Asparagus Experiment, I put thirty asparagus seeds between two damp paper towels and left them in a Ziploc bag. To do their thing. Which would hopefully be absorbing water and joining the ranks of things that look less like rocks. As I’ve been known to do,…

The Great Asparagus Experiment

Okay, maybe it’s not going to be that “great.” And maybe it’s not soooo experimental. I mean, other people have grown asparagus from seed. But the “normal” way to start an asparagus bed is to buy crowns: the roots of one- or two-year-old plants. Starting a bed with nothing more than a packet of seeds…

Caring for Seedlings

Well, the seeds I started almost three weeks ago are full-fledged seedlings now. They’re the plant equivalents of toddlers. No longer content to stay where I put them, they’re declaring their newfound independence by straining towards the sun. All of them have true leaves now—not just those run-of-the-mill round or oblong cotyledons that first break…

Seed Starting: Broccoli & Company

In my part of Virginia (the inland plains), the next couple of weeks are the perfect time to start seeds for refined brassicas. The brassica family is a large one. It includes plants like kale, collard greens, and mustard greens, as well as their more genteel cousins: cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and that old favorite…

A Watched Seed Never Sprouts?

If this were true, I’d be in real trouble. I’m an incurable seed watcher. From the very first morning after I bury them in their little flats and tin cans, I’m spying on them. I’m lifting up the saran wrap that’s supposed to keep in the soil moisture (but admittedly doesn’t work so well if…