Tomato seeds planted April 5th

150 tomato seeds planted this year in these germination trays. 42 varieties

Every year it seems, I adjust my tomato seed planting schedule. This year is the latest I’ve ever started my tomato seeds-April 5th. Still trying to tweak it out about when the best time is to start them. If I plant seeds too early, the plants will get too tall before I transplant them outside in wall of waters. Last year I started seeds March 29th. So we will see how they do.

A couple of things have allowed me be able to start them later and get them in the garden earlier.

First, since I changed to Batch 64-Moonshine soil mix (from Agua Fria Nursery), the plants take off growing like a rocket as soon as they germinate. The list of ingredients in it is unbelievable. Once the seeds germinate, there is enough nutrients in this soil mix to basically fertilize your seedling for 6 weeks without adding anything else (except maybe liquid seaweed and Vitamin B at transplanting time to reduce transplant shock). Now I can plant them outside in 5 weeks instead of the 7-8 weeks in years past.

Secondly, I now start my seeds in these germination trays (see pic) where the cells are close together. The trays being shallower, seem to speed the germination process too—less soil to heat. These are a 20 row seedling flat.

Thirdly, it seems to be getting warmer sooner in the spring here in Santa Fe or at least that is my experience. Using wall of waters to protect the young tomato plants from cold nights, I was able to transplant my tomato plants outside on May 3rd, shaving 13 days off the ‘frost free’ date of May 15 that we have here in Zone 6b. They did just fine in their wall of waters.  But last year we were in a warm drought and this year may be different with all the precipitation we got this winter. We’ll see.

And lastly, maybe, just maybe, I’ve become a better gardener through the years…

NEW! Seed Starting Class-March 17

NEW! Seed Starting Class-March 17

DATE: March 17, 2019
TIME: 12 noon TO 2 pm
INSTRUCTOR: Jannine Cabossel/Tomato Lady
LOCATION: Tomato Lady mini-farm • 56 Coyote Crossing • Santa Fe, NM

 

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Why start seeds when you can buy plants at the nursery? There are many reasons to start seeds inside early. Start plants from seeds if:

• You want to grow unusual varieties that are not sold in the nurseries—this is the #1 reason I grow many of my crops from seeds. So if you want to try that unusual tomato or watermelon, you’ll probably have to start them from seeds yourselves.

• You want to get a head start on spring—start many crops from seed and get them in sooner

• You hate buying more plants than you need—many plants are sold in pony packs-maybe you don’t want 4 or 6 plants of the same variety

• Many times the plants are already root bound—the number one problem I see from nurseries

• You can save money by learning to grow your own veggies from seed

• It’s FUN!!

Participants will learn:

• Which seeds should be started inside and which seeds can be planted directly outside later when it warms

• Learn what dates to start the seeds & what dates to put out in the garden

• Learn about different soil mixes and containers-which ones are best

• How to transplant the seedlings up into bigger pots

• How to care for your seedlings

• How to avoid spindly transplants by using proper lighting

Certain veggies are hard to start from seed like beets and peas. They don’t like to be transplanted and are direct seeded into the cold spring soil and many times the seeds rot in the ground before they can germinate. Let me show you how to grow them from seed inside so they can be easily transplanted without stressing them. Stress free plants are happy plants, happy plants produce more. There are many things you can do to get started successfully, and I will share my knowledge with you. Handouts provided to take home to guide you.

 

HOW TO REGISTER: PAY BELOW and I will send you a confirmation to your email that you give to PayPal. I will send directions before the class starts.

Step 2: TO PAY: Purchase this class for $20 here (you don’t need a pay pal account, just a credit card):


Buy Now Button

Need to Contact me? Email me: jcabossel@hotmail.com

What’s up in the garden!

20140403122458-Meraviglia-di-venezia-a-grano-biancoStill catching up on what’s up in the garden. I planted a new bean called Climbing pole French Bean – Meraviglia Venezia that I bought from Franchi Seeds. It’s a Romano type of bean only yellow in color. I wonder what it will taste like. I also planted Emerite french filet pole bean from John Scheepers Vegetable seeds and a Chartreuse leaf colored scarlet runner pole bean which I grow for looks as the bright yellow-green leaves look fantastic against other greens.

 

Detroit Red beets, Craupadine beets and Atomic Red carrot seeds were planted directly in the garden. I put row cover over all of them to keep the birds from eating the bean seeds and to keep moisture in the ground for the beets and carrots.  If you’ve had trouble with birds eating germinating seeds, put row cover over them till they get about 3 inches tall. The Detroit beets and carrots are coming up nicely but the Craupadine beets are not. They are so hard for me to germinate compared to other beet seeds-still I try as I love the flavor of them.

cuke transplantsCucumber seeds planted in 2″ pots in the greenhouse at end of May, have germinated and will go into the garden today-June 15. The varieties are: Poona Kheera cucumbers (best tasting slicing cuke ever-never get bitter), Parisian cucumbers (I will make Cornichon pickles out of them), Boothby Blonde cucumber seeds will become Bread and Butter pickles and National Pickling cucumber seeds which will become dill pickles. Can’t wait to make pickles!

Pillbugs_(Armadillidiidae)Last year and every year before, I planted cucumber seeds directly in the ground but roly polys ate my cucumber seeds as they germinated last year in the soil. Roly polys, sow bugs, pill bugs, potato bugs are sort of interchangeable names for Armadillidiidae. They are actually good composters of horse manure so they are great in a compost pile but can damage small seedlings as they germinate in your garden when you plant seeds. Last year, I thought it was a cut worm eating all my seedlings, but found the roly polys instead to be the culprits. I had to plant 3x before I could get enough up and only after I sprayed them with Neem did I have success. This year I pre-started them in the greenhouse in 2″ pots to get them a little bigger. I find when seedlings are bigger, the roly polys don’s bother them anymore. They only like the young tender seedlings as they emerge.  If they do eat some of my other seedlings that are direct seed planted, they will be toast as I will spray Neem Oil on the roly polys on the soil where they live to get rid of them.

Rogosa-Violina butternut

Rugosa Violina Butternut Squash

The winter squash varieties I’ve planted are Rugosa Violina Butternut and Waltham Butternut. I grow Butternut squash because it doesn’t attract squash bugs! It’s the winter squash to grow if they are a problem.

 

 

 

 

calabacitas squash pic

Calabacitas squash

I’m also growing ‘Tahume’ Calabacitas squash which is really a winter squash picked very immature-we eat it like summer squash out here in Santa Fe especially in the dish called Calabacitas, which is a mixture of sauteed onions, corn, Hatch green chili and calabacitas squash. I got this from Botanical Gardens seed company. Very yummy!

 

 

 

costata romanesco

Costata Romanesco zucchini

Summer squash varieties I started are Costata Romanesco zucchini (best flavor ever) and ‘Bennings Green Tint’ patty pan. If I hadn’t had such trouble with the rolly polys last year I would just plant the seeds in the ground and you should too if they are not a problem for you. The soil has warmed up nicely—over 70°F which is perfect for squash seed germination.

 

bennings-green-tint-scallop-squash

Bennings Green tint summer squash

Should be done with all veggies planted this week. So if you think you are behind in the garden this year, don’t worry, you’re not alone!

Seeds already germinating!

seed startingseegermination 02-16

I planted some lettuce and greens seeds on Feb 8 and by Feb 11 some are already germinating! That’s only 3 days. Wow. Unbelievable! Here’s the lineup again and how they’re doing so far:

#1 Yugoslavia Red lettuce just peaking up

#2 Santoro barely peaking up

#3 Slow-Bolt Cilantro not up

#4 Carmel spinach just starting to come up

#5 Baby Pak Choi way up

#6 Forellenschuss lettuce way up

Not surprising, the two larger seeds #3, the Slow-Bolt Cilantro and the #4 Carmel Spinach are slower to germinate. I imagine the bigger the seed, the longer it takes to germinate. But to my surprise, the spinach is starting to come up already and the little seeds like lettuce just exploded through the soil. Amazing. I’m totally surprised how fast some of them have germinated.

Now I just got to make sure to mist them heavily 2x-3x a day to keep the soil moist while they all germinate. I will spray diluted Chamomile tea on the baby seedlings tomorrow to keep Damping Off disease from coming. It works great.

Older Seeds-how to test for viability

seeds

If you have gone through your seeds and find packets that are over 3 years old, you may want to test them for viability. Are they still good enough to plant again? Many seeds are good for 2-3 years and some much longer if they didn’t get wet or damaged. I grew the state record for giant green squash (345 lbs) from a seed that was 8 years old. I was amazed. Read about the giant green squashes here; https://giantveggiegardener.com/2011/10/04/greenies-battle-it-out-for-who-will-go-to-the-weigh-off. So sometimes older seeds are fine too. Here are some things you can do with older seeds.

  1. First,  if they are over 3 years old I may toss them in the ground later in spring (especially flower seeds) to see if they germinate or
  2. I may test the seed packet (look at the date on the package) to see if they are still viable. Three years or older? Test them. To test them, take 10 seeds and soak them in water for a few hours to overnight and then put them in a damp paper towel and put them in a Ziploc bag and on a shady, warm windowsill or on top of your refrigerator (not a sunny place, you don’t wanna fry the seeds). Then in a few days check them to see how many have germinated.
  3. I use this chart  “Germination tables from Heirloom Seeds – Know when to plant all your vegetables.” to see how long it should take to germinate a particular seed under ideal conditions.  If none have germinated, keep checking them. After a few days, you’ll see some of them have germinated. So if 8 out of the 10 germinated, you have a 80% germination rate. If 5 out of the 1o seeds germinated, then you have a 50% germination rate, if only 2 have germinated than you have a 20% germination rate and so on.  I would probably toss those. This chart is also great to have when we are actually ready to start seeds inside under lights or directly outside (later) to see what is the optimum soil temperature is for each seed and how long it will take to germinate. I will post later on that when starting seeds inside or outside. This is just to test for seed viability right now.

Starting COLD HARDY VEGETABLES Super Early

lettuce_greenhouse germinating

So now that the Persephone period is almost over and the magic date of January 15th is upon us, what does that mean? It means our day lengths are getting longer and January 15th is when we start getting 10 hours of daylight that will continue to get longer every day. Have you noticed already it now gets dark around 5:30 instead of 5 pm? The darkest time of the year is over. What does that mean to gardeners? To learn how to start cold hardy vegetable seeds super early outside and how also how to start them inside read on.

STARTING COLD HARDY VEGETABLE SEEDS OUTSIDE: cold frme opened
If you want to try growing cold hardy vegetables outdoors at this time of year, you will need a cold frame, low tunnel or hoop house.

If you already planted cold hardy vegetables late last fall in a cold frame, low tunnel or hoop house, you may have noticed that the little seedlings haven’t been growing much at all as winter set in. Now with longer daylight hours, they will start to grow again and barring any devastating freezes, they will continue to grow and you can get cold hardy crops earlier this spring.

In late winter, before you have harvest your winter crops, decide what you want to plant in your bed once space opens up in your cold frame.  As the end of the Persephone period draws near (January 15) , you can re-seed the openings created from your harvesting or you could start planting seeds in your bed if you don’t have anything growing. My soil in my unheated greenhouse is at 40°F right now (as of January 12). Lots of cold hardy vegetables germinate in cold soil.  They will be slow to start at first but they will start as your soil warms up to 40°F and warmer. Now with the day light getting longer, you can think about starting early. The winter sowing you do will be ready for harvest by early spring, often long before the same crop when grown outside without protection. A bonus is many of the cold hardy winter crops don’t like our springs, bolting on the first few warm days so you’ll be able to harvest that spinach before it bolts!

Some cold-hardy plants planted inside a cold frame, low tunnel or hoop house can tolerate a hard freeze at night, provided they are allowed to thaw during the day. The plants must be completely thawed before you harvest them. In addition, put some winter row cover over seedlings at night to give them an additional 4-6°F protection even though they are already in a cold frame, etc. Remove the row cover on days when it is above freezing. Watering is necessary to get crops started, but they will generally need very little water during the winter season-early spring once established.

STARTING VEGETABLE SEEDS INSIDE:
I’ve already written about starting seeds inside on many earlier posts.
To learn all about starting seeds indoors to get a head start go here:
https://giantveggiegardener.com/2012/03/08/starting-seeds-inside/

WINTER HARDY VEGETABLES
The following list of winter vegetables to grow is from ‘The Winter Harvest Handbook’ by Elliot Coleman. These can be planted either as transplants (first started inside under lights) or outside as seeds in cold frames, low tunnels or hoop houses.

Asian greens-Tatsoi, Pak Choi (Mei Quing Choi), Mizuna, Tokyo Bekana,Komatsuna

arugula-Astro, Sylvetta

beets-Red Ace, Merlin, Touchstone Gold

beet leaves-Bull’s Blood, Red Ace

carrot-Napoli, Mokum, Nelson

chard-Fordhook Giant, Ruby Red, Argentata

claytonia

endive-Bianca Riccia

leek-Tadorna

lettuce-Red Saladbowl, Tango, Rex, Rouge d’hiver

 mache-Vit

minutina

mustard green-Toyoko Beau

radishes-Tinto, D’Avignon, Cherriette

scallion-White Spear

sorrel

spinach-Space

turnip-Hakurei

watercress

Seed Starting For Early Spring Crops-Class handouts

The Seed Starting For Early Spring Crops class that I taught today was sponsored by one of the organizations I’m a member of called Home Grown New Mexico. Home Grown New Mexico puts on many classes about growing, raising, making and preserving your food throughout the year. They are about sustainability, urban farming and growing organically which is right up my alley and the classes are open to the public. If you’d like to see what other classes/workshop Home Grown New Mexico is putting on, check out their website homegrownnewmexico.org.

Now, here are the handouts if you weren’t able to make the class or if you didn’t get them as we ran out of them during the class today-it was definitely a full house with about 35 people attending. It was a good mix of Master Gardeners, Interns and the public that attended. I really like to teach when you all show up! Hope you learned something and enjoyed it!

Starting Cold Hardy Plants in Early Spring Inside-2014

seed germination chart

PRESPOUTING SEEDS

Cold hardy crops for early spring in March-April

COOL-WARM SEASON CROPS

Seed Starting For Early Spring Crops-Sat. March 15

coldframe crops

Saturday, March 15
Seed Starting For Early Spring Crops presented by Home Grown New Mexico
How to start seeds early for cool season crops
Time: 12:30 pm-2:30 pm
Instructor: Jannine Cabossel
Location: 3229 Rodeo Road (Rodeo Grounds/Large Annex building classroom)

Jannine Cabossel, a Master Gardener and ‘The Tomato Lady’ at the Santa Fe Farmers Market will teach a class on the basics of seed starting in spring for early crops: indoor seed starting for your spring garden, outdoor requirements for successful seed germination and basic indoor/outdoor seedling care. By starting seeds indoors in early spring you not only get a head-start on your year’s food production by protecting your crops from Santa Fe’s finicky spring climate, but you also get more time with your hands in the dirt. Many new tips this year plus learn varieties that do well in our cold climate.

Jannine has extensive experience in growing vegetables on her 3000 square foot garden using all organic methods. Follow her blog at giantveggiegardener.com. This class free! Become a 2014 Member for $35—includes all classes, potlucks and tour.

Seed Starting Date Calculator

Below is a seed starting date calculator from Johnny’s Seeds. I downloaded it from the interactive tools section on their home page. I put the date of our spring frost-free date (May 15 in the Santa Fe area) and it automatically put in all the dates from when to start seeds inside to when we can safely put the plants out in our gardens. I just copied the vegetable section here for you to see but it also has many flower planting dates as well-it was just too big to capture it all. If you live in another area or want to capture the flower information as well, then be sure to go to the interactive tool section at Johnny’s to get your own. But here it is for those of you who live in Santa Fe, NM for all the vegetables they list. If you click on the image it will show up clearer and you can print it.

2013 Johnny's seedstarting chart

Why start vegetable seeds inside?

transplanted tomatoes

Why would any of us bother to start seeds when we can go to nurseries to buy the plants. Well, I do both. I can only speak for myself but I have grown all kinds of unusual vegetables that I couldn’t find at the nursery and I like to try something new and different every year. Besides being ‘The Tomato Lady’ here at the Santa Farmers Market, I really like to try some new heirloom tomatoes every year along with my tried and true varieties. Every year some new variety gets on my ‘all-star’ list at the end of the season while others don’t make the cut. In fact in some years, many don’t make the cut-I’m picky as hell about my tomatoes. If I don’t like them I don’t grow them again. Luckily, I like many tomatoes but they’ve got to taste good!

Some of the unusual varieties I have tried and loved eating are Atomic Red carrots, Cosmic Purple carrots, Craupadine Beets, Tarabais beans, Rattlesnake beans, Emerite beans, Fava beans, Parisian cucumbers, Poona Kheera cucumbers, and about 25 different varieties of heirloom tomatoes (too many to mention). None of these are sold as plant starts in the nurseries but you can buy some of the seeds at the nurseries and some seeds you have to order online.

Have you ordered your vegetable seeds?

seed catalogs 2011Looking through all the seed catalogs and planning what you’re growing next year is fun to do in winter. Now is the time to order your vegetable seeds if you haven’t already done so. Seed starting will soon be upon us! Many cool season crops can be started inside soon (some now) and put out in March and warm season crops can be started from seeds inside 6-8 weeks before the first frost-free date. Hard to think about starting any seeds when the weather is cold, windy and ugly but it is almost here. I have ordered some seeds but still have to get some and already feel a little behind.

If you are not one to start seeds inside, that’s ok-just wait till the nurseries get their transplants out later this spring and let them do the work for you. And don’t be afraid to buy transplants. I once was told you’re not a real gardener unless you grow everything from seed. Bull@#$%! Out here we need all the help we can get so I’m not against buying plants from nurseries at all. Besides I like supporting our local economy as well. So I grow some vegetables from seeds and buy some from the nurseries. What matters is that you get out in your garden and enjoy yourself and the fruits (or vegetables) of your labor.

Starting Seeds Inside

Pea seeds starting to sprout after being treated with ascorbic acid.

Last Saturday I taught a seed starting class at the Railyard classroom. I want to share the information sheets I provided in class with anyone who might be interested.

STARTING SEEDS INSIDE will help anyone who wants to get a head start on how to start seeds inside.

One of the tricks with peas (especially if they are older) is to soak them in a water/ascorbic acid mix. To read how, go to PRESPOUTING SEEDS. I soaked them for 2 days and then put them in damp paper towels and in a plastic baggie. The little seed germinates the root right away. Then plant each pea root down in a little pot being careful not to break the root and wait for them to come up. My goal is to plant the pea PLANTS by March 17th (St. Patrick’s Day) instead of planting the SEEDS that day.

DIRECT SEEDING: TRANSPLANTING covers planting seeds for warm season crops directly in the soil AFTER the danger of frost has passed.

COOL-WARM SEASON CROPS is a list of plants you can grow by season. We are right now in the beginning of our growing seasons which is COLD SPRING/FALL meaning we can plant those plants in early spring and again in fall. The next group we can plant on the list (generally in April) is called COOL WEATHER crops and then of course we go into the WARM SEASON crops which is after the last frost freeze date (our area May 15th) and for those cold hardy people there is a list of WINTER crops.

Four Season Harvest by Eric Coleman

I suggest you read Eliot Coleman’s Four-Season Harvest book which is a great resource for all seasons.

SEED STARTING DATE CALCULATOR from Johnny’s Seeds does all the work for us as to when to start seeds inside and when to plant them in the ground (that also means when to put in transplants if you choose to buy them instead). I just plugged in the last frost free date and it does the rest. Now all we have to do is get a calendar out and write down when we should start the seeds for the plants we want to grow this year. A terrific resource. Johnny’s has some other great tools on their main page in the left hand column under GROWING GUIDES called Interactive Tools. Be sure to check them out.

NEXT: MASTER GARDENER INTERN VEGETABLE CLASS