|Catnip emerging after a few warm days|
I've included a photo of my seed starting setup. This is the first year I've found an incubator with such a tall hood (7 inches). Together with a heated mat, it offers plenty of growing room and the warmer soil temperature roots like: Hydrofarm CK64060 Hot House, withHeat Mat A fluffy towel keeps the soil temp in the safe range
The frost free date for my area is the first Saturday in May (the running of the Kentucky Derby). I'm getting some of my seeds in a bit late for that planting date, but that's partly because of shipping delays from one of my suppliers.
Kitchen Scraps and Spring Planting
|A big bag of frozen egg shells|
- Banana peels - potassium
- Egg shells - calcium
- Shellfish exoskeletons - crab and shrimp shells mostly, for an organic boost
- Coffee grounds - acid for azaleas and others
|Dry banana peel has a tree bark texture|
I'll just place a couple of spoonfuls in the planting hole with some potting soil and fill the rest of the hole with regular potting mix and a lucky seedling. I've done this a couple of times, and it works well. The roots grow into the extra bounty, like a care package from the garden, sometime in June. I alter the mixture for different plants, giving more of the shellfish, say, to heavy feeders. You get the idea. The process isn't very labor intensive, and it's pretty fun.
I make use of my veggie and herb patch year after year, so a little giving back to the soil is in order. I especially like the idea of replenishing trace elements that aren't well represented in most potting mixes and many other additives. My short-cut composting helps, along with regular composting when I can get around to it.
|Chives are up|
Additives change soil composition, so it's always a good idea to have your soil tested before you start tinkering with it. If you have an overabundance of calcium, for instance, adding egg shells is just silly, same for adding potassium if you have plenty.
|Rosemary is moving outside after a long winter|
If you have problems with mosquitoes near your deck or patio, a little catnip can help there, too. In some tests, catnip has outperformed DEET 10 to 1 at repelling mosquitoes. Although it can be invasive, and self-seeds readily, I let catnip grow where it wants and just relocate (or discard) any extra. This herb in the mint family doesn't root very deeply and comes up with a simple twist of the wrist.
Here are a few more random thoughts:
- In a walk around the garden, I took a few photos and have included them. Reemerging plants are pretty beguiling, even for a seasoned gardener.
- Here's an oldie, but a goodie: Soak your seeds overnight before planting them. They'll sprout faster and may even be more robust, especially if you've hand them over a year.
- I'm using craft sticks and permanent marker for my plant identifiers (cut in half crosswise) this year. They seem to be working, with fewer ink (running) problems this time around.
- Oh, I did want to mention that I had some good luck with early tomatoes last season. The two varieties I tried, Fireworks and Siletz (60 to 65 days, I think), were either open pollinated or heirloom varieties. I liked them so much, I'm using them again.
|Calendula seeds after a long soak|
Have a great week.
|Peppermint is just peeking through a drift of leaves|