I have so many leftover seeds. The bad news is I did an awful job storing them. When you look at an experts recommendation for storing seeds (cool and dark place etc) I did the opposite on almost all fronts. I left them in packages that were dirty from the garden, I stored them in our laundry room which always has a light on and is right next to the furnace.
I am hoping I didn’t ruin most of them. I will try germinating some in a plastic bag with a moist paper towel to check for bad seeds.
For some reason I thought ordering 21 different heirloom tomato seeds was a good idea about 2 years ago. Some of them turned out to be great while other didn’t do very well. What I learned was, in such a small space, I am far better off purchasing seedlings from a greenhouse that have had optimal starting conditions and are known to do well in Maine. So for 2015 the plan will be 12 Roma seedlings, 12 Jet Star seedlings, 6 Cherokee Purple seedlings, and I will pick 6 seeds from my collection to start for a little variety. The great majority of the garden tomatoes will go into home canned tomato sauce.
I will not order seeds for Onoins, Eggplant, Sweet Peppers, or Herbs. I have had no luck starting any of these from seeds and they are still cheap to buy as seedlings especially when you hold off buying some (like the herbs) until end of June/July when seedlings prices are dropped to clean out for the season.
So what do I need to plan on purchasing? Here is the list so far…
Swiss Chard – I want a rainbow variety. Chard will be a cornerstone of my greens for the season. I plan to do a whole row (my smallest and shadiest row) which will take about 80-100 plants. I also plan to do 1 container of Chard in a sunny spot – to cut and eat at the micro green or baby leaf level. I will start a 72 cell seed tray with seeds and then probably buy one 12 pack of seedlings. These usually end up being farther ahead then the seeds I start, so they hold us over until the bumper crop comes in.
Kale – Kale will also be getting it own row (the second smallest and shadiest). I like Chard better as a green but Kale is still significantly easier to grow, cut, and eat then lettuce. The thing I love both about Kale and Chard is you can just clip leaves off outside of plant and let them regrow whereas when a head of lettuce is ready you just have to cut and eat. My problem is I usually end up with 12 heads of lettuce ready one week and none the next week. My Kale plan is the same as my Chard plan. I still have some “Blue Curled Scotch Kale” seeds leftover from last year and I will probably start half a 72 count tray with those and one container. I will look for 1 package kale seeds from a hardy, shade friendly variety.
Bush Beans – Green, Yellow, and Purple bush beans. I will need all three. The biggest disappointment of last years garden was critters eating my bean plants (twice). In my head I will do 3/4 of a sunny row with 1/2 that space going to Green Beans, then a quarter each to Yellow and Purple Beans. The other 1/4 of row will be trellised for Pole Beans.
Mexican Sour Gherkins – These tiny little watermelon looking cucumbers (sometimes called Cucamelons) are awesome. In last years garden I started 4 plants from seeds – only 2 survived the first few weeks after transplanting. Of those 2 plants I only got 2 cucamelons ripe before the plants died at the end of year. They are definitely worth another shot. This year the seedlings will get more pampering, they won’t go into the garden while seedlings are too small and I will try some in rows and some in containers.
Cucumbers – I had pretty good success starting cucumber seeds last year. This years cucumber plan is a pretty large expansion. My plan is 2 full rows (including Mexican Sour Gherkins) with trellises and around 50 plants. Last year we had about 25 plants and we ran out of pickles in February. The kids will eat cukes straight from the garden (especially Norah) and I like them for juicing. I have some leftover seeds “White Cucumber” and “Picklebush.” I could probably survive without ordering seeds as I will probably buy at least half the plants as seedlings but I would like to find a new variety I can try out.
Lettuce – I have some leftover lettuce seeds but most of them are 2 years old now. I am looking for a seed pack of lettuce that is good for growing in rows or containers, is able to be cut and come again, and is slow to bolt. My laziness is usually my problem with lettuce. You really need to stay on top of Lettuce for continual harvest. My plan will be to do a number of containers with different varieties of leftover seeds to cut at the baby green level. Then devote 1 garden row to heads of lettuce planting a third of the row the first of June, then waiting 2 weeks each before planting the other 2/3.
Sprouts & Micro Greens – I have a sprouting container I bought 3 years ago. I used it non stop for about 2 months and haven’t used it since. It is not that I don’t like sprouts, it is that it made so many at once I had no idea what to do with all them and then I ran out of seeds. New game plan is to only sprout 1 tray at a time for addition into salads at night. I will go with 1 package of Mung Beans and probably 1 package of a mix. I plan to do a more in depth post on sprouts in a few weeks once they are started. I would like to try a package of some type of micro greens mix and make one homemade one with all my leftover seeds of greens. In fall I have a plan to grow micro greens all winter indoors so I want to start working with them this summer.
Zucchini – I will buy 6-8 seedlings of zucchini and start a couple golden zucchini seeds I have leftover. Last year my zucchini plants started to die off in August so my plan is to buy one packet and start seeds end of June in case seedling plants go downhill and I want to pull and refresh with new ones. I will do more research on zucchini plants to see if I am doing something wrong but I like to have a backup plan since zucchini is such a good garden producer and easy to dehydrate and freeze.
That is my plan so far. I like to go into shopping with a list because it is so easy to be distracted and buy a bunch of stuff I really don’t need (I love the pictures in seed catalogs). This is also I how I ended up with 21 varieties of heirloom tomatoes – they all looked so good. I have to do the same thing at the grocery store. When I don’t do that I end up with a draw full of exotic Asian spices that I have only used once (I also love shiny things). I have limited space for starting seeds and being in Maine I have a really tight window to get the food I want from the garden so I find good planning to be a necessity.
More to come on starting seeds this spring. Thanks for reading 🙂