Seedlings are sprouting!

March 15th, 2008  |  Published in DIY Food Projects, Fantastic Fruits, Farming, Gardening, & Food Preservation, Most Popular  |  10 Comments

Suyo Long Cucumber seedlings

Suyo Long Cucumbers : a slender asian variety

Tigger Melon seedlings

Tigger Melons : 1 pound fruits with stunning red and yellow stripes

Pantano Romanesco seedling

Pantano Romanesco Tomatoes : medium sized red with hints of purple

Seedlings on the windowsill

Seedlings on the windowsill. (5 tomatoes: Purple Russian, Dr. Wychee’s Yellow, Pantano Romanesco, Riesentraube, Fuzzy Yellow; 2 cucumbers: Mexican Sour Gherkin, Suyo Long; purple tomatillos, 2 hot peppers: Roberto’s Cuban Seasoning, Ancho Grande; 2 melons: Kiwano ‘Jelly’ Melon, Tigger Melon)

After being delayed multiple weeks by ice storms, the seeds for my summer garden finally arrived! I had been waiting with baited breath, and got to planting within a day of receiving the package. All of the seeds are heirloom varieties from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, a rockabilly farm in rural Missouri. I totally dig it.

When planning my garden, I decided to go with some more ‘exotic’ varieties of my favorite vegetables and fruits and continue to purchase my staples at the Farmer’s Market. This means I’m planting five types of tomatoes (of varying sizes and colors — purple, red, yellow, cherry, medium, and large), purple tomatillos (harder to find and more $$$ than typical green), two types of cucumbers (one, Mexican Sour Gherkin, is the size of a kumquat; the other, Suyo Long, is a long, thin asian variety), two types of spicy peppers, and two types of melon (Tigger — fruits grow to about 1 pound and have beautiful red and yellow stripes, and Kiwano aka ‘African Horned Cucumber‘ aka ‘Jelly Melon‘ which has yellow spikes on the outside but is neon green and gelatinous on the inside; it tastes like a cross between banana and cucumber– should be interesting)

As you can see, I’ve improvised my seedling containers — the two melons are in proper containers, but for the rest I raided the recycling pile and came up with 2 egg cartons, a long thin rectangular pie-crust box, and a small Airborne box. The egg cartons I was able to use as-is; the boxes I cut into roughly 2.5 inch rectangles using a serrated knife. Most of these have no bottom (think toilet paper roll), so I placed them on a cardboard shoe box top so they wouldn’t leak everywhere, and also to make moving all 7…8…9 containers easy. I used a permanent marker to write the variety of each seed on the side of the container to keep everything straight. I learned my lesson about this last time I planted seeds when I had kale, collards, and broccoli with nearly identical seedlings.

Some make-shift seedling container ideas are:

  • - egg cartons
  • - bottom or sections of 1/2 gallon milk jug
  • - small cardboard boxes/packaging
  • - toilet paper roll sections
  • - paper towel roll sections
  • - yogurt or cottage cheese containers (poke holes in the bottom of these)

Just make sure that whatever you use, that water will be able to drain from the bottom (either through holes or by seeping through the packaging (i.e. egg cartons)).

The seedlings will probably be ready to transplant to the garden in 3-4 weeks, or after their first ‘true’ leaves have sprouted. When that time comes I’ll post my soil recipe (something like 10 parts compost, one part kelp, one part ground oyster shells, etc. etc). Stay tuned!

And as a side note, if you were thinking about starting a garden from seed and you think it’s too late now — IT’S NOT TOO LATE AT ALL! Now is a great time to start tomatoes, cucumbers, celery, onions, squash, lettuce, and a whole lot more. You might even want to wait a couple of weeks to start hot peppers (they need warmer weather).

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