If you just can’t bear to throw out those old seeds, here’s a test to tell how viable your older seeds are. Take 10 seeds and soak for about 1 hour, then put them between damp paper towels and in a plastic ziplock baggie. Put in a warm spot (on top of your refrigerator or on a grow heating mat). Keep checking them daily and when you get them to germinate, count up how many actually did germinate. If you got 3, then you have a 30% germination rate, 5 would be a 50% germination rate and so forth. If you only get 1-2, throw them out, their not worth the trouble. So if you have a 100 seeds, then you can be pretty assured that around 30 would germinate (30% rate).
Category Archives: SEEDS
10 things to Do in February For the Garden
We may not be able to get out in our gardens right now but it is time to get busy with things to do to get ready for the garden. March will be seed starting time and there will be lots to do before for that. I will be elaborating on some of these items over the next few posts as I see there is moe info I can offer.
1. Go over your current seed supply. Organize it. Get rid of any seeds over 3 years old unless you froze them. Fresh seeds are essential for good germination. Older seeds have less success of germinating.
2. Decide which vegetables you want for this year and order any seeds you may need to get from seed catalogs.
3. Talk to your local nursery to see what they might be growing this year. I give a list to mine and they tell me what they are growing so I don’t duplicate. I prefer to let them do the growing, it’s just that I want to grow so many different varieties that they might not have so I have to start some by seed.
4. Stock up on any fertilizers, amendments, compost, nutrients, mycorizzial, and biomicrobes you may need for veggies. i.e- tomatoes, giant pumpkins
5. Check your grow light boxes to make sure they work. Get new bulbs if necessary.
6. Check grow heating mats to make sure they work and get more if necessary. Last year I had one and ordered another as my seed growing expanded.
7. Purchase soil seed starting mix. I use Metro Mix 100 to start seeds. This stuff is great. The water doesn’t roll off the ‘dirt’ like many seed starting soils
8. Clean and sterilize any containers you plan to reuse for seed starting or transplanting seedlings. Use a 10% bleach to water ratio to rinse off the containers.
9. Buy any containers you may need for seed starting/transplanting. Most gardening stores sell up to 3″ in the peat pots. If you want a 4″ peat pot, go to Territorial Seeds. They are the only ones that have that size. I need them for my giant varieties cause they grow so fast. I also like the flats that have a raised lid. good for germination.
10. Read at least one good gardening book your interested in each month during the winter. I’m almost finished with ‘Four Season Gardening’ by Eric Coleman and just ordered ‘The Compost Tea Brewing Manual’ by Elaine R. Ingham.
Grow Black Oil Sunflower Seeds For Your Wild Birds
I just came back from the bird store where I got some black oil sunflower seeds for my wild birds when I thought why not grow my own for next year? My favorite sunflower up to now has been the Titan sunflower which is a striped seed and is not a black oil seed. Black oil seeds compared to striped sunflower seeds have a higher oil content and are meatier for birds. They are also easier for small birds to crack open. I already cut off the sunflower heads from sunflowers for birds so why not give them what is really good for them. One variety of black oil sunflower seed that I found is Peredovik Black Oil Sunflower Seed from Russia. In 2016 you can get it at Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. You can also just plant the black oil seed you get in your birdseed. I read that the sunflowers grow from 3-6 feet tall. So this year I’m going to add them in with my other sunflowers that I grow for a treat for the wild birds.
Hmm, now I wonder if I can grow that real expensive finch seed, Nyger? I’ll have to look into that! It is super expensive but I don’t know if it will grow here. I’ll get back to you on that one..
2014 update: Try to grow some from your birdseed mix but if yours don’t grow from your birdseed, go to the site above to buy some that will germinate. This is the most current seed company to buy from.
2011 Seed Catalogs
Now’s a great time to look at all those new seed catalogs we’ve been receiving. I’ve gotten a few new ones (for me) as well. I am now going over them and deciding which seeds I can’t live without! So many choices! I’m only adding a few new tomatoes as I par down the list from the past 2 years. That and I am not going to grow as many as last year because I need to rotate them to new areas. I’m planning on growing more flowers down in the main garden as well. For more information on all my favorite seed catalogs, go to my catalog page at the top of the blog (also on the right sidebar)
I also got 2 new seed catalogs-One’s called ‘bbbseed’, which features heirloom vegetables and wildflower seeds. It’s veggie section is little but what interested me in the catalog is it comes out of the Denver area and seems to be a good resource for wildflowers for our areas. You can order a catalog at www.bbbseed.com. The other catalog is John Scheeper’s Kitchen Garden Seeds. It looks interesting with it’s larger veggie and flower section. You can order one from www.kichengardenseeds.
Veggies I will and won’t grow this year and why in 2011
Here is my veggie list from last year. I thought it important to go through it and tell you what I will and won’t grow again and why before I forget. Look at my SEED LIST PAGE next week (as it could always change) to see exactly what I am growing in 2011
San Marzano-red plum tomato-YES-I will try again even though ALL 4 died. I hear too many good things about this tomato
Striped German-bicolor tomato-YES-I WILL grow it again for my third straight year-One of my favorites even though it takes a little longer to develop
Black Cherry–YES– I will grow this for my third straight year-another favorite
Paul Robeson-black tomato-YES-A Farmers Market favorite although I prefer others.
Cherokee Purple-purple tomato-NO-I missed this one last year but it is wonderful. As good as Brandywine.
Cherokee Chocolate–YES-Just as good as Cherokee purple but a little brownish color. I will choose between one of the Cherokees due to space.
Prudens Purple-purple tomato-NO-not as good as the Cherokees nor as prolific but planted it because it was suppose to ripen sooner-not true for me last year.
Black Krim-black tomato-NO I didn’t do this one last year but had it in the lineup because it is only 69 days to ripen. Never had good luck in previous years.
Pantano Romanesco-red classic tomato-YES-wonderful tomato from Italy
Great White–NO– novelty-lost both plants
Costoluto Genovese-red tomato-YES fantastic looking-fluted and great taste
Goldsman Italian American-large red plum-YES even though I lost 3 out of 4, and it took forever to ripen, it makes the BEST tasting tomato sauce I’ve ever made
Aunt Ruby’s German Green–NO-Novelty-lost 2 plants
Gold Medal-bicolor tomato-MAYBE-took longer to ripen than Striped German but great taste
TOMATOES-HYBRID-I grow a few hybrids
Lemon Boy–MAYBE-didn’t get any in last year but it is a sweet terrific tomato
Park’s Beefy Boy-red tomato-70 days-YES-only 70 days and great taste
Sun Sugar-yellow cherry-NO-kinda like a lot of yellow cherry tomatoes but super sweet.Want to try something different.
Original Goliath-red tomato-NO– nice size, early ripener but can’t remember the flavor
Big Zac-red/80 days-YES-takes the longest to ripen but taste is great and chance to grow a huge one.
2010 VEGGIE LIST
BEANS-Rattlesnake-YES-great tasting pole bean over my arbor and Tavera-NO average tasting bush bean
PEPPER-Shishito-YES-I love these-not hot but full of flavor
SUMMER SQUASH-ZUCCHINI-Costata Romanesco –YES wonderful taste and Lungo Bianco-NO-it was good and more prolific than Romanesco but not as flavorful. Sticking to one kind this year.
SUMMER SQUASH-SCALLOPED-Yellow Custard and Bennings Green Tint-NO on both. I’m only growing Costata Romanesco
WINTER SQUASH-Marina di Chioggia–NO-powdery mildew problem and not many squashes and Galeux d’Eyesines–YES-prolific-great taste-3rd yr.
EGGPLANT-Little Fairy-YES-prolific tender skin and great taste, third year in a row. Thai Yellow Egg–NO-took all season to develop and then froze at first frost. What a disappointment.
CUCUMBERS-Parisian, Boothsby Blonde, Poona Kera, and Parade–YES TO ALL-Third straight season
CORN-not sure if I’m growing. Might just pick it up at Farmers Market
LETTUCES-from COOK’S GARDEN-Provencal Mix, Mesclun Mix, Buttercrunch, Yugoslavian Red, Santoro Lettuce, and Little Gem-YES
SPINACH-from COOK’S GARDEN-Indian Summer and Double Choice-NO-will look for bigger leaf variety.Too puny.
CARROTS-from COOK’S GARDEN-Kaleidoscope (mix of red, purple, orange and yellow)-NO want only orange and purple ones this year.
BROCCOLI-Brocolli Romanesco-NO–takes too long to develop.
BOK CHOY-Extra Dwarf Pak Choy-YES
CHARD-5 Color Silverbeet–YES TO ANY CHARD
PEAS-DWARF SUGAR, OREGON SPRING II–YES
2010 GIANT PUMPKINS
895 Grande (1016 Daletas x 1385 Jutras)-YES-grew the 2010 NM State Record Pumpkin-421 lbs + 3 other new ones
GIANT MARROW (like a giant Zucchini)
206.5 Wursten 09–YES–didn’t grow last year but will this year
75.4 Wursten 09–YES–grew the 2010 NM State Record-43 lbs
7.18 N. Harp 09 (5.58 Timm x open) YES–grew a 2 lb 11 oz tomato in 2010
5.416 N. Harp 09 (5.58 Harp x open–YES
Big Zac (from Totally Tomato)-YES
I just realize it looks like from the photos so far that I only grow giant pumpkins so I want to show you some titan sunflowers which got 10 feet tall last year. Really beautiful. Can’t wait to grow them again this year. The birds love them too. I call them the guardian angels of the garden.