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Veggie Tales - January 2018

LoneJack Zn 6a, KC
4 years ago
last modified: 4 years ago

Kevin pointed out that it is a new month and new year so we need a new thread. It appears that a lot of gardeners are hibernating right now.

The seed catalogs keep on showing up in my mailbox. I've received at least 10 so far that I've never ordered seeds from before. I've already made my Johnny's order and am contemplating whether to order some Gotta Have It sweet corn from Gurney's while their 50% off sale is on. My other choice would be Ambrosia that I can get locally.

Yolos - those broccoli look fantastic! I wish I could grow mine further into the winter but that's just not doable here when we can get down to 10 below in December and January.

Naturegirl - Very nice thing to do for the little birds. I don't think I've seen hawks get the birds at our feeders but some of the neighbors cats have a couple times.\

Wantonamara - that sounds like a lot of work you had to go thru to winterize everything. I hope you can get everything thawed out soon!

Kevin - I'm only growing the bunching onions and leeks from seed this year. I've grown several types of nice big onions from seed many times before including Walla Walla, Candy, Red Candy, Red Defender, and Sierra Blanca (aka Superstar), and a couple others that I can't remember. Last year neither the Pontiac or Red Cippolini that I started produced well for me but the Dixondale plants growing in the same bed did pretty well. One other reason is that onion seed germination drops so quickly that you have to buy new seed at least every other year. I wish Johnny's would offer smaller packets of 100 seeds at $2 instead of 250 at $4+.

It sounds like you have your plans down pretty well already. My favorite pickling Cuke is Vertina that is bred by Johnny's. To bad you already placed your order with them. I see that you included Baron Poblanos. I ordered them as well. Looking forward to growing them and making Chili Rellenos this summer. I'll have to get your recipe when the time comes. Can you freeze some of the poblanos to make Rellenos during the winter?

Comments (218)

  • Chris (6a NY)
    4 years ago

    Sunflowers - I remember you mentioning getting the cocoons! Which bee house do you have? I'm thinking about getting a kit that comes with the sections I posted, plus a house to keep it protected. I'm not sure if it's wishful thinking, hoping that bees will come to the house on their own, vs. buying the bees too. I love the idea of providing a home for native bees. It is the main reason I don't clear out my spent flower stalks until Spring. Apparently some natives will overwinter in the hollow stems of some flowers.

    I hear you on getting antsy to plant! The wait is over, partly, as I am able to start leeks now! One more mild day and I'll be able to winter sow some seeds, hopefully before any snowfall.

    Kevin - I like your idea! Not only would accessing it be more convenient, but you won't be taking up any space by creating it. Are you just going to see how plants perform in there without replacing the roof? Would be awesome if you didn't have to. Awesome idea, reusing the deck planks as shelves, etc! Good luck! I'll check in on the greenhouse forum every so often to see progress.

    Peter - it begins! Exciting to finally get things going. I just started leeks today. Happy growing!

    Norm - sorry to hear about the dog getting into the bed. Glad to hear it wasn't a rat problem! I couldn't deal with still getting that kinda heat during winter. Hope all of the cool-season crops do ok. Looking forward to seeing how your garlic turns out.

    Jack - the leeks and bunching onions are looking good! You just reminded me that I only sowed leek seeds and no bunching onions. Thanks!




  • Norm Wilson(zone10/Sunset zone24)
    4 years ago
    Sunflowers thanks for the discussion about the native bees! We may order some from that site as there are some reasonably priced options there.
    Jack the lettuce is looking great! Exciting.
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  • Norm Wilson(zone10/Sunset zone24)
    4 years ago
    Tomorrow my seeds get started. I am staying positive. Either we’re going to have some rain later on, or this year most of my harvest is going to be hot weather crops. Excited to get started this year. Especially excited about these new peppers! Supposedly they are the world’s most expensive pepper. Hopefully they’re also tasty. I met a guy at our local feed store who makes good money selling Carolina reaper seeds and also occasionally gets people to pay his bar tab by daring them to eat a Carolina reaper he always carries around with him. I nearly fell over laughing when he described that!!!!
  • 14tomatoes_md_7a
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    Norm -- sounds great, this Greek hot pepper. Please, report on it at harvest so we can compare notes. I'm trialing this hot pepper that I heard great things about -- BULGARIAN CARROT pepper

    Tony


    p.s. already started

    ------------------------------- seed on --- Plant on:

    6. Red Lipstick pepper --------1/29* ...... 5-05
    6. Medium hot Jalapeno ----- 1/29* ...... 5-05
    6. Sweet Banana pepper ---- 1/29* ...... 5-05
    2. BG Carrot hot pepper ---- 1/29* ...... 5-05
    4. Eggplants --------------------- 1/29* ...... 5-05
    6. Celery -------------------------- 1/30* ...... 4-25

  • Kevin Zone 6b - PIT, PA
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    Norm - those peppers caught my eye a number of times when looking through Baker Creek's catalog. I'll be curious to see how they turn out for you!

    Tony - nice to see some peppers and other 'summer' plants already being seeded ! Those should be at a nice size when they are ready to transplant. I sowed some of my habanero and ghost chili seeds that were saved from last year a few weeks back just to test germination. Every single one of the habs came up in less than a week, the ghosts are still underground after about 14 days which I've heard they can take a while. I'll probably keep them alive for my plant sale instead of resowing since they both tend to be slow growers. First wave of real pepper sowing wont happen until probably 2/10.

    Chris - That's something I never heard about bees (overwintering in flower stems). Thanks for the excuse to not clean up that part of the garden this fall!

    Yea the idea for at least this year is build without any modification to the roof which would obviously add significant costs. I know for sure the outside edge will get good sun just about all year and the whole structure gets good sun in the winter but I have a hunch that I am going to want more sunlight (back towards the house) come spring and fall time. DIY skylights would not be incredibly difficult somewhere down the road. The costs are adding up quickly though. Even without buying windows or doors (they came free) and with no insulation on the roof I am estimating up around $1000 between the framing, siding, soffit and fascia, polycarb panels, and sealing the whole thing up (probably lots of expanding foam). Still much cheaper than the $14k version I linked previously and I think it has a chance to look twice as nice!

    Sunflowers - Thats a good idea to plant some things that can go in pots and be brought in if we get a cold snap. Good way to extend the season (and scratch the seed sowing itch!). I threw away an old (probably first generation) aerogarden when we moved about 5 years ago and I kick myself for it every now and again. Making a DIY hydro setup wouldn't be all that difficult but making it look nice is the tricky part. Hydro is definitely something I might like to get into again.

    I would really like to save the pavers in some form or fashion, but they are not going to be able to withstand constant stepping/use for very long. Maybe after I get it all cleaned up I'll try some polymeric sand broomed into the gaps to try to 'lock' them back up.

  • Norm Wilson(zone10/Sunset zone24)
    4 years ago

    14 tomatoes that sounds like a very nice pepper, I may try that one this year too. You may like the Ajavarski peppers too. This was one of my favorite peppers from last year. Not hot, but really really tasty, amazing as a roasted pepper and also built up some flavor in my homemade hot sauce. https://www.rareseeds.com/ajvarski-sweet-pepper/

  • Matt
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    Only cool weather vegetables right now. Sadly no seed catalogs here:( but lucky the stores around have lots of seeds to choose from.

    Garlic, radishes, lettuce, carrots and peas for now. These were all just planted a week ago and they are already popping up!

    01/30/18

  • LoneJack Zn 6a, KC
    Original Author
    4 years ago

    Awesome Matt! Nice to have someone else join in on the VT threads. I assume these plantings are in your 9b greenhouse. Is it heated and do you heat the soil as well? If you order seeds from most any online seed vendor you will start getting seed catalogs coming out of your ears the following years. I've received over 20 so far this year and most from vendors I've never ordered from.

    Kevin - I checked out you plans for the greenhouse/Biergarden on the greenhouse forum. I like the plan. I think you should get enough sun for this spring's seedlings but you may need to rotate them occasionally to keep them from leaning towards the sun.

    Nothing new on my gardening front. Another cold snap heading this way on the weekend but little or no snow in the forecast. Looks like this one might last awhile.

    I've adjusted my gardening plans a bit. I received a confirmation letter from Sandhill Preservation that they received by Sweet Potato slip order. My order number is 44 and they ship according to that number beginning May 25th so I expect to receive them sometime the last week of May. I was expecting it would be early June. I want to plant the slips ASAP since they are not cheap. My plan is for the sweets to follow my broccoli but I don't think the Bay Meadows (60 DTM) broccoli will be finished heading by late May but I'm 99% certain that the Early Dividend (45 DTM) will be. I decided to only plant Early Dividend in the spring and grow Bay Meadows in the fall.

    I also decided to add Guajillo peppers to my grow list. My brother has some seed that he saved from dried Guajillos purchased at a MX market. They are a mildly hot pepper used in a lot of Mexican cooking. I've used them in Chicken Tacos and Enchiladas a few times and they add a great flavor without too much heat.

  • Sunflowers
    4 years ago

    Chris, I don't know if they still have the exact combination I bought, but it's similar to this https://crownbees.com/shop/starting-kits/all-kits/chalet-or-cottage-spring-kit-holiday-bonus-bees  Maybe you could buy some of the attractant and see if that will lure bees to the house? And you’re correct about bees overwintering in hollow stems. I went to a presentation given by Heather Holm (a native pollinator expert) and she really encouraged the “chop and drop” method of fall cleanup, where you don’t completely clear out your garden.


    Norm, thank you for providing a home for native bees! I have no connection to the Crown Bees company but they were fantastic to work with when I needed some expert advice for an article I wrote for a local gardening magazine last summer. Hahaha that’s quite a party trick for the man to carry around a carolina reaper with him. If I tried it I’d probably accidentally sit on it and then have the juice seep through my clothes and burn my skin. Gotta be careful!


    Congrats on starting your seeds, 14tomatoes! We can all live vicariously through you while we wait for our time to come.


  • 14tomatoes_md_7a
    4 years ago

    I start the peppers this early, because a month before planting them they get topped off -- makes for sturdier, bushier and more productive plants.

    Tony

  • Kevin Zone 6b - PIT, PA
    4 years ago

    Tony I’m thinking of doing that with some of my plants that go in containers. Any tips or is it just pinching the top to a set of leaves?

  • 14tomatoes_md_7a
    4 years ago

    Kevin, I only top off peppers. When you see tiny new shoots on the sides of the stem, snip off the crown. I use cuticle scissors making a precise cut just below the growing top, trying to leave as many new side shoots as possible. Makes a huge difference when planting them out a month later.

    Tony



  • Kevin Zone 6b - PIT, PA
    4 years ago

    Tony - yea I would be doing peppers too, thanks for the tip!

    Some updates on what I got going plant wise:

    lettuce should be ready for mini harvest soon

    Onions and parsley, more onions and basil

    Peppers. Had a ghost chili pop up in the past day or two (far right). Rest are habs.

  • LoneJack Zn 6a, KC
    Original Author
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    Kevin - your starts are looking good! Looks like the onions should be ready for their first haircut pretty soon. Fresh salad for Superbowl Sunday dinner? I brought a home grown salad with my lunch today to go with left over Spaghetti.

    Tony - I've never topped peppers before either but I might have to give it a try on a few this year. I'm growing 2 plants each of 9 different types so I could top one plant of each variety and leave the other plant as a control to compare plant growth and productivity. Thanks for the tip!

    I'm watching the lunar eclipse from my office window as I type. It is about 2/3 covered at 6:30. The moon is just about to drop behind the building across the street so I'm going to go outside here in a few minutes to get a better view.

    ETA: Just got back from viewing the eclipse. It didn't turn blood red like it was supposed to, it was just totally blacked out for a minute or 2. The street lights probably had something to do with it and it was also starting to get light in the east as well. People further west were supposed to have a much better view.

  • Kevin Zone 6b - PIT, PA
    4 years ago

    Jack - I hadn't even heard about the lunar eclipse. It was cloudy here plus like you said apparently the further west the better the sights so I don't think I missed much.

    Super bowl salad sounds like a plan. Even better would be to cut the lettuce up and sprinkle it over some nachos (with homemade Annie's salsa and pickled jalepenos of course!).

    I'm taking a half day tomorrow and all day Friday. Unfortunately its for a funeral for a close-to-us extended family member. But I hope to maybe slip out of the suit and tie early and get some work done on the greenhouse. He was a DIY'er just like me and I always enjoyed discussing our latest projects with him, I am sure he will be smiling down.

  • Sunflowers
    4 years ago

    I'm sorry to hear about your loss, Kevin. I'm sure your family member would, indeed, smile down at you working away on the greenhouse.


    Jack, my husband woke me up around 6:15 this morning to show me the moon. Luckily we could see it from the bedroom window. Pretty cool!


    Tony, I'll have to try topping a few of my peppers this year too! When is your last frost date? It sounds like since you top them you need to start them sooner. Maybe this means I could jump ahead in my schedule and start a few early :-)

  • 14tomatoes_md_7a
    4 years ago

    Peppers you plan to top need to be started a month earlier, so they catch up with the ones you won't top.

    Since I top all my peppers, already started them. Our last frost date is 4-15.

    Tony


  • LoneJack Zn 6a, KC
    Original Author
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    Kevin - Very sorry to here about your loss. it's always sad losing someone close to you whether family, friend, or both. Gardening and greenhouse building are both great ways to get your mind off 'things'.

    Peppers you plan to top need to be started a month earlier, so they catch up with the ones you won't top. I didn't quite catch that part earlier or at least it didn't sink in. I'll have to think about whether I want to grow my pepper seedlings for 3 months before planting them out. I imagine they would have to be potted up to something larger than a 4" pot for the last few weeks. Not sure I would have room for that. If I was only growing the plants that I need I could probably swing it but I'm starting around 3 dozen peppers and at least that many tomatoes.

  • Kevin Zone 6b - PIT, PA
    4 years ago

    RE pinching - Jack your point on the potential need for additional potting up is a good one. I know in general its best to avoid root bound plant but I thought I've heard that peppers do better when a little stressed - maybe early fruit production?

    I could be making that all up. I just see the idea of pinching as an excuse to plant something earlier <runs to grab the jiffy mix and seed packets>.

    Thanks for the kind words everyone. The next couple days are going to be difficult and I'll be looking for anything to get my mind off of 'things'. Hug you loved ones extra tight extra times.

  • Chris (6a NY)
    4 years ago

    Norm - that's pretty funny about the Carolina Reapers! I just had some Carolina Reaper beef jerky last week and boy does it have a kick! Once you get past the heat it was pretty tasty. Good luck with the new pepper variety!

    Tony - this is the 3rd time I've heard that pepper technique used, but I've never had it in me to try it lol. I suppose I should experiment, because like you mentioned, others have said it increases yields. I do share Jack's concern, in regards to the container needs for the older peppers that were pruned. What size pots do you use for them before they go out? Do you grow them in containers or plant them in the ground?

    Kevin - I'm very sorry for your loss. Maybe you can dedicate your greenhouse to him. He certainly will be smiling down on your unique creation.

    I hope the modifications to your porch area can at least suit your needs for this Spring. I think it will. Maybe your plant sale will not only bring in donation funds, but also help you modify your greenhouse further. I wish you all the best.

    The seedlings are all looking great! You'll be filling up that grow space in no time. Seeing that makes me want to start my Scotch Bonnet peppers :-) I'm hoping to grow enough to do a hot sauce with those this year.

    Matt - it's nice to see some seedlings popping up! Before we all know it, these threads will be inundated with such photos! Congrats on the speedy germination.

    Jack - that's exciting about the sweet potatoes! What size bed are you going to devote to them? That is definitely a vegetable I want to tackle in coming years. Not impossible to grow up here, but certainly more difficult, seeing as they need a lengthy warm season to grow. Ever consider growing your own slips? I watched a Youtube video about how to do it and it's surprisingly pretty easy! Though it does require you to take up space under your lights. I'll be looking forward to seeing how your crop turns out.

    You really have me thinking about doing broccoli or cauliflower in Spring now, instead of Fall. My dilemma will certainly be timing. If I decide to grow them where they'll be followed by a summer veggie, I need to ensure that they'll have enough time to head up. I need to run the numbers. For all of my book reading and researching, I still haven't focused enough on timing.

    Sunflowers - thanks for the link! It looks like that comes with the whole shebang! I think I may start with just the house and trays and see what kind of traffic it gets. What kinda place do you have it located? Shady? Sunny?

    I woke up early to catch the eclipse, but no such luck here. As mentioned, it was better out west. It was only a partial eclipse for us, because the moon was already so close to setting when it began. It was an awfully bright moon and pretty cool that it's the first SuperBlueBlood moon since 1866 and will be the only in our lifetime.



  • Kevin Zone 6b - PIT, PA
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    Chris - join me in my experiment of planting peppers after broccoli and cauliflower?! Generally they have a bit shorter DTM than sweet potatoes so it might work for our climate. I think Jack's Frost (hehe) comes a little later than us NE yankees.

    I don't plan on growing much if any of broc/caul in the fall - the worms were just too bad last year.

    ETA - maybe the combo of topping the peppers, letting them get a little rootbound, and planting a little later after a brassica harvest is the golden ticket! I'm gonna tell myself that at least.

  • Chris (6a NY)
    4 years ago

    I just may do that, Kevin! You definitely have a longer season than I do, but I may be able to do it with an early variety, like the one Jack is doing. Worst case, I end up harvesting tiny broccoli stalks.

    Has anyone ever tried growing endive? I saw the coolest thing on Instagram. If you have Instagram, checkout the latest post by MagnusFaviken. He's the head chef of Faviken in Sweden, which is one of the chef's in the first season of Chef's Table, on Netflix. Endive is grown from harvested escarole root and apparently you are supposed to grow it in complete darkness, which keeps it that white color and also prevents it from getting bitter. This restaurant had a local grower grow the endive and kept it packed in complete darkness. Then the restaurant preps them in a red light room, like a photo room, to prevent any photosynthesis. Apparently this keeps them sweet, instead of their usually bitter flavor when exposed to light. Absolutely fascinating!

  • 14tomatoes_md_7a
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    Kevin: "I just see the idea of pinching [peppers] as an excuse to plant something earlier <runs to grab the jiffy mix and seed packets>." LOL, spot on!

    All my topped peppers go in 4" pots --- works great. I plant them in 27 gal containers, two in each.

    Tony

  • Kevin Zone 6b - PIT, PA
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    Chris (and everyone else - this is an interesting question) - what’s your average last and first frosts again? Here we are May 15 to October 15. Those are 50% chances from davesgarden.com

    Tony - that’s good to know! I am definitely going to give it a shot with my container pepper plants. In the garden with my planting spacing I am shooting for the plants to grow as vertical as possible in order to squeeze as many plants in the available space as possible. In containers I’ll have room for the plant to be shorter and more compact.

    My bonchi plants are kind of continuously topped. I have trimmed new growth back from the very get go in order to fill out the canopy. I let the stem get to four nodes and trim just above that. Two stems grow from each of those. The plants would look better if I didn’t fail at wire training so much.

  • LoneJack Zn 6a, KC
    Original Author
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    Sunflowers - the lunar eclipse was pretty cool yesterday but the one we had a couple years ago was much better and the moon did actually look red during totality. Though it was nothing compared to last year's solar eclipse.

    Kevin - Your peppers are doing great! Any sign of budding yet? According to Dave's Garden my 50% chance of last spring frost is April 9 and the first fall frost is October 27. I think In my valley Micro climate those dates are a little optimistic especially in the spring.

    The weather guessers around here are really having trouble with this next arctic blast coming down. Some are predicting just a glancing blow here and others a direct hit. Either way it doesn't look to last very long.

    I think I will go ahead and start one each of my El Jefe Jalapenos and Baron Poblanos on February 10 with a plan to top them and start all the other peppers as originally planned on March 10. I'd do one of my Guajillos as well but I won't have the seeds until Feb. 24. I have a dozen or so 1/2 gallon pots if I feel they need to be potted up again.

    Chris - I'm putting the sweet potatoes in 2 - 4'x8' beds. 6 Betty's, 6 Bush Porto Rico, and 3 Vardaman spaced 1' apart. Sandhill recommends planting them thru black plastic to increase the heat they love and prevent additional rooting along the vines. I thought about just starting slips from grocery store sweets but I don't want a variety that is vigorously vining. I selected these 3 types because they are either bush or semi-bush varieties and the vines are no longer that 6'. Hopefully I can keep a few of each type to start my own slips next year.

    Sandhill Preservation is located in Cedar Rapids Iowa which is zone 4b. Their website has good information on growing in cooler climates. They say they plant slips out as late as early July and still get great yields.

    No, I've never tried growing endive nor have I eaten any that I am aware of. That grower and chefs method of keeping them blanched is wild. I bet they fetch a pretty penny from their restaurant customers. Blanched asparagus is a real treat in the spring. It comes up white if not exposed to sunlight. I'll usually get some short blanched spears in early spring before I pull the mulch back on mine. This year I may add some extra mulch on part of one bed to get some longer blanched spears. It is definitely the sweetest asparagus you can eat.

  • Kevin Zone 6b - PIT, PA
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    Ugh, welp Baker Creek's catalog (and its email reminder that I get free shipping within your first 6 months of signing up on their website) reeled me in for a second order.

    Seven tomatoes (Solar Flare, Glacier, Rutgers, Costuluto Genovese, Rosso Sicilian, Cosmic Eclipse, Kelloggs Breakfast),

    7 peppers (Sugar Rush Peach Hot, Corbaci, Aji Charapita - {thanks Norm!}, Filius Blue {for future Bonchi}, Ring of Fire, Lemon Drop, and Yellow Hinkelhatz {Pennsylvania Dutch Heirloom}),

    Early Scarlet Radish

    Ailsa Craig Onion

    Thyme (I realized I don't have any seed and this is one of the biggest demands in my plant sale!)

    Balcony Mix Petunia

    Persian Carpet Zinnia

    Queen Lime Red Heart Zinnia

    Plus three free seed packets.

    I have no idea where or even if I am going to grow all of those peppers and tomatoes but I had an itch for them that just needed scratched!

    Jack - my bonchis have been such a pleasant surprise this winter! The Thai chilli has produced a half dozen or so new fruits (you can see one on the top of the left plant, first picture). The ghost chili has been sending out numerous buds but due to me trimming the stems back and them just dropping I haven't seen any blossoms or fruit yet. The hab has been completely vegetative in growth (and less vigorous as well).

  • LoneJack Zn 6a, KC
    Original Author
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    Sucker!! That's a pretty big order Kevin. You are going to have a great assortment of varieties to offer in your sale. You're going to need to buy 1000 plant labels so you can keep track of who is what.

    I will probably buy some more seeds locally at Planter's Seed and Spice. I will for sure buy my Ambrosia sweet corn seed there. I stopped by there last week to pick up a 50 lb. bag of Urea and they already had most if not all of their seed racks out. They had a couple racks of Baker Creek. I didn't spend much time looking at the seeds though. I need to get over there again next week to buy a heat mat if I am going to start a couple early peppers and I need a dozen more 4.5" pots and 1/2 dozen web trays,

  • Kevin Zone 6b - PIT, PA
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    Jack - I've already ordered and received a 1000-pack of labels from greenhouse megastore, along with a 100-pack of 18 cell sheet pots (3 inch square), and twenty 72 cell starting trays.

    Was hoping that would last me a few years of sales. But I'm probably going to need to buy more for next year if sales growth continues!

    It seemed like a big order to me too but the price came out great at less than $60 shipped to my door. What am I missing with Baker Creek - they seem to not possibly be profitable!

  • Chris (6a NY)
    4 years ago

    Jack - 2 beds to sweet potatoes?? Nice! Have you read anything on what the average yields are? That farm I volunteer at, they grew sweet potatoes last summer and also used black plastic. Their major problem was deer pressure, though. They kept eating the foliage. I remember helping weed the rows in the field and seeing more weeds than sweet potato leaves.

    Kevin - according to Dave's Garden my last frost is May 3rd and first is October 9th. I wish that was the case, but I've consistently gotten frosts after May 3rd. My concern, even with these dates, is when I can safely transplant my broccoli and cauliflower seedlings out. Johnny's has a nice calculator for when to start transplants and set them out. When I put in May 3rd as a frost-free date, it says I can set out broccoli and cauliflower on April 19th. Growing an extra early variety of broccoli like Blue Wind(49 days) would put me at a harvest date of June 7th. The cauliflower would be 9 days later. Hmmmmm.

    Jack, when do you transplant your broccoli and cauliflower in Spring? Have you noticed the DTM to be earlier than suggested on the packets?

    Baker Creek got you, Kevin! I saw an e-mail the other day that said my free shipping promotion will expire in 2 weeks. I guess that's the one you got. That is one of the things that is great about High Mowing Organic Seeds. If you spend $10 or more it's always free shipping. That's pretty easy to do :-) However they don't have as big of a selection as Baker Creek.

    Since all I can do(especially these days) is think about gardening, I checked out this documentary on Netflix called Sustainable. I recommend watching it. Some pretty cool things this family in Illinois is doing on their farm.

    Welp, all this talk about seeds and transplanting has just made the gardening itch worse!! I need to winter sow something lol


  • LoneJack Zn 6a, KC
    Original Author
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    Kevin - by my calculation you need 800 more labels (18 x 100 = 1800). Baker Creek does have good prices. One of these years I need to go down for a tour of their operation in Mansfield. MO which is about 3 hour drive from my house. They usually have an open house or 2 every year.

    Chris - I'm not sure what to expect from the sweet potatoes as far a yield. It will a big surprise! Deer and rabbits are really supposed to love the foliage so I plan to rig up some fencing around and over the bed to keep them at bay.

    I plant my broccoli and cauliflower right around April 1st weather permitting. This year I'm shooting for Good Friday (March 30) since I get the day off. Broccoli and Cauliflower usually come in pretty close to the DTM for me in the spring but in the fall Cauliflower usually takes quite a while longer.

  • Chris (6a NY)
    4 years ago

    Jack - that would be cool to visit! I wonder if Johnny's has something similar. They are 5+ hours from me, but I love to visit Bar Harbor, ME, so I could make a stop there.

    Surprise harvests are the best, especially since sweet potatoes can grow into real monsters.

    Yeah I don't think it would be a safe bet to plant broccoli and cauliflower on April 1st here. I'm now considering planting them in a plot that doesn't get what would be considered full sun. This is the same plot that had tomatoes, tomatillos, and peppers growing in it last year, so I'd imagine it's sufficient for broccoli and cauliflower. We shall see!

  • Sunflowers
    4 years ago

    Tony, sounds like I get to start a few pepper seeds this weekend!!! Woo hoo! I have room in my garden plans for about 20-25 plants, so I’ll probably just start a few this weekend and experiment with topping. Could you explain a little more about how and when to top the plants?


    Kevin, we’ll all keep you and your family in our thoughts and prayers. :-(


    Chris - From everything I’ve read, the bees like their house to get morning sun (to wake them up) and then shade or part shade for the hottest part of the day (so they don’t cook). Thanks for the netflix documentary recommendation! I think there should be more documentaries about farming/gardening.


    I kind of average the different websites I’ve referenced and came up with my last frost date being somewhere around April 15th and first frost around October 15th.


    Jack, where I come from (German heritage) that white asparagus is called spargle! Spargle season is a huge deal in the spring and everyone seems to love it. It’s harder to get here in the US, but family members in Germany say it’s much sweeter.


    Speaking of plant labels, what does everyone who isn't selling plants like Kevin use? I find that a lot of the pre-made labels are too tall to lower the lights right where I want them when the plants are very small.

  • Kevin Zone 6b - PIT, PA
    4 years ago

    Chris - a pepper transplant date of June 16th would give you 115 days of frost free days by that schedule. Im sure October 9th is the 50% day so you may want to back out another couple weeks for good measure but that's still around 100 days.

    I need to study that Johnny's table again and relook at my plans ... I planned to have some of my broccoli transplanted as early as March 30th... table says May 1 (two weeks before last frost date). That is a bit more than just pushing the limit. I'll probably shoot for somewhere in mid to late April - that would still give me around 180 frost free days to do both broccoli and peppers.

  • LoneJack Zn 6a, KC
    Original Author
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    Sunflowers - I love me some Spargle! This morning I was wondering about using black plastic instead of deep mulch to shield the asparagus spears from sunlight. I think that might work OK during the earliest part of the harvest when they are not growing very fast but by late April or early May I think the spears are growing too fast for that to work very well and they might get cooked as well. I'll have to do some research on how the German farmers do it. If all of the information is in German I will send it to you for translation ;-).

    Regarding plant labels...I just use masking tape on my pots to write the variety name when they are indoors. I have maps of what I plant out and where that I can reference after they have gone out. I don't usually put labels on anything in the garden but I may need to for the tomatoes this year since I will be growing double my usually number and several new to me varieties.

    I have read of several people here on GW that use cut up pieces of mini blinds as plant labels. You can get short pieces free at HD, Lowes, or Manards after people cut them down to the length they need to fit their windows. There is usually a trash can full in the aisle next to the machine that is used to cut them.

    Chris - grab me a few lobsters when you visit Bar Harbor! I spent a couple weeks in the mid 90s in Portland, ME for business. I think I had lobster and/or crab of some sort for just about every meal. Now I'm having a hankerin for lobster rolls!

    I would guess mid April would be the time to plant broccoli in your area. Just watch the forecast and if you don't see anything below about 27 it should be safe but remember the Boy Scout motto and always be prepared.

  • 14tomatoes_md_7a
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    Sunflower -- on topping peppers,

    When you see tiny new shoots on the sides of the stem, snip off the crown. I use cuticle scissors making a precise cut just below the growing top, trying to leave as many new side shoots as possible. This is done about a month before plant-out.

    Tony

    p.s. I'll post before and after pics for you in a few weeks when I top one.

  • Chris (6a NY)
    4 years ago

    Sunflowers - thanks for the info! I think I know just the place for it. I agree about the farming/gardening documentaries and I think you are going to start seeing a lot more. Our country is much more conscious of what we put in our bodies than ever before. There is also a lot of scrutiny on farming practices these days too. Especially in regards to livestock care. The amount of varieties that are available and the easy accessibility to them are making this a really exciting time to grow.

    Kevin - that's a good point about the amount of time still left to grow peppers. If I was to wait that long to plant peppers, I would have to remind myself to not start the peppers too early. One problem I had last year was the size the pepper plants had gotten before it was time to plant out. I can only raise the lights on the shelves so high and they were starting to burn on the lights. I have to check, but I believe I only started 6 weeks before plant out.

  • jacoblockcuff (z5b/6a CNTRL Missouri
    4 years ago


    Here's my new...uh...greenhouse! The sunniest spot I can find gets about 4-6 hours of full sun right now. It's increasing every day as the sun rises above our trees and house though! Everything seems to be enjoying it so I'll just see how it goes. Also a picture of my recently sprouted onions. I have another tray full of leeks beside those :). They seem happy. The low tunnel is an experiment! It's close to my garage in that spot, so if needed I can bring my seedlings in there, which we keep above freezing at night. The plastic warms the inside up a lot during the day and venting has been required above about 40 so far. It will freeze inside without heat, so I'm going to experiment with a heat source. I'm going to paint a big tub black, fill it with water, and let it sit inside the tunnel all the time. The black should absorb the heat and heat up the water inside as well. The black color will then slowly radiate the heat out all night when temperatures drop, and the water should give the source more mass to hold the heat longer. I'm hoping this will work with most nights, along with the protection from the plastic, but IF needed I will bring them in the garage for the night as said before. I'm sure some nights like last month's various nights in the negatives (-8 F the lowest we've been so far) will call for me bringing them inside.


    Dave's Garden saye 50% at April 22nd and October 10th. All danger past at May 6th and danger begins at Sept. 26th. About 50% of those years we do get frost as late as mid May so they're almost right on, and the first frost date is about right. I'm surprised that our last frost is later than you guys' in KC. Maybe it's the elevation? We're at 1500 ft. here.


    I had my leeks and onions out on the ground while setting up that "greenhouse". The baby found them and jumped right on top all the seedlings and started smashing them. Most are alive but I lost a few!! Lesson learned, keep them high up LOL

    Kevin, I have a calendar from Southern Seed Exchange printed out on my wall for planting dates. They call for a April 15th last frost and October 15th first frost in their area, so I just adjust as needed for mine. Good luck on your greenhouse!

  • Sunflowers
    4 years ago

    Thanks for the tips, Tony!


    Jacoblock, I love the “greenhouse!” I’ve been calling my similar setup “the plant igloo” because it’s kept some spinach plants alive through the winter along with some tender ranunculus (flower) corms that usually freeze and die in zone 6. I used milk jugs painted black and it did help keep the temperature up overnight. The only time I ran into a problem was when we had a stint of days in the negative and single digits. The bottles ended up freezing overnight and it actually kept the plants and the igloo cooler during the day because the bottles radiated cold. I panicked, took the frozen bottles out and put two strands of incandescent christmas lights in the igloo and turned them on overnight to try and keep the soil a bit warmer.


    Other than that, though, I’ve been able to keep the temperature in my igloo between about 16 degrees and 60 degrees. It’s not ideal to have it fluctuate that drastically, but it’s a fun experiment.

  • Chris (6a NY)
    4 years ago

    Jack - I must've went right past your post! Gotta love that lobsta! I am a huge fan of lobster and eat it frequently when I go there. I've never actually stopped in Portland, just passed by it. I will be going there next time because my favorite brewery is there. Allagash!

    Thanks for the info on broccoli and cauliflower. I will keep an eye on temps when the time comes and some row cover on standby. I'm very anxious to try some homegrown cauliflower, even though I hear the flavor is best in Fall. I just don't know if I'm up for the Battle of the Cabbageworms. Besides, I may be giving Brussels sprouts another go for the Fall. I don't like being bested by a vegetable.

    Jacob - awesome stuff you've got going on there. Loving all the experiments. Interesting idea with the tub of water. Keep us posted on how it works out. Sorry that your baby stomped on your babies lol Thankfully just some minor casualties :-)

  • Norm Wilson(zone10/Sunset zone24)
    4 years ago
    Had the day off and spent all day in the garden. We finished painting our chicken coop and we should be ready to get the girls in there pretty soon. So hot here. So dry. I’m thinking it’ll probably be a hot and dry year without much water. Probably will need some creative moisture and mulching solutions to keep water near my plans. We moved a huge bed to the sunniest side of the house which will be all tomatoes and peppers this year. Exciting times! Some arugula coming up. I’m not sure how much cool weather crops I will get to harvest this year.
  • LoneJack Zn 6a, KC
    Original Author
    4 years ago

    Norm - it's nice to see something green outdoors! I can't remember...are you raising your pullets from chicks or are you buying them at laying stage? We raised ours from hatch in a brooder in our basement and at about 5 weeks they were ready to break out of the brooder. Anytime we opened the top to clean they were trying to fly out.

    Jacob - nice little greenhouse you have setup. I imagine you might have to bring your seedlings in a time or 2 more in the next week if your weather is anything close to mine. It was 10 F when I left for work this morning and a balmy 17 F at my downtown office. It must be the elevation difference that accounts for your later last frost and earlier first frost. My garden is at about 800 ft. in a valley. Often on a clear night it will be 5 or more degrees colder in my garden then it is 2 miles away on the top of a hill.

    I'm a little skeptical of the charts that are shown at Dave's Garden. If I put in my zip code of 64070 it displays a chart for Lee's summit, MO which is 15 miles west, the KC airport that is about 60 miles NW, and Leavenworth, KS that is even further to the NW. Oddly the chart for the KC airport shows to have the earliest last frost by 7 days and the latest first frost by 14 days compared to the other 2.

    I checked the Old Farmer's Almanac site and they show April 14 and October 20 for a climate station that is only 1.5 miles from me so I'm going with that. The OFA site says it is using the years between 1981-2010 to calculate the average. I think if it used the latest 10 years it would change quite a bit with the early springs and mild falls we have had around here recently.

  • Chris (6a NY)
    4 years ago

    Norm - nice to hear the coop is almost ready for the chickens! I hope you don't get too bad of a drought over there this year. Mulch is definitely a great way to make the moisture in the soil last.

    Jack - I just checked Farmers Almanac for frost dates and they give me a last frost date of April 16th!! First frost date says October 25th, which was actually pretty close to what it was this year. The location they used was Yorktown Heights, which is about 9 miles south of me and identical elevation. I feel like these dates must've changed recently. I don't ever remember last frost dates being that early. I feel like this is going to make me do something foolish haha

  • jacoblockcuff (z5b/6a CNTRL Missouri
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    Chris, Farmers' Almanac, I think, has our frost dates as April 14 and October 22nd. I think Dave's Garden is a bit more accurate from experience, at least for our area. I very much like their moon sowing articles and guides, and their growing guides are very informative. Their weather forecast always seems to be fairly good as well considering how far in advance it is made.

    I guess the groundhog has predicted 6 more weeks of winter. I have a feeling this spring is going to be very sporadic, as it has been all winter. I kind of hope that it won't be like spring in 2014 where we woke up to 2-3" of snow on May 3rd. Not saying we'll get that, but the point is how sporadic that spring was. It was awful screwy lol. I notice they're calling for drought this summer as well. We had a very wet/cool summer last year, hardly topping 80 other than a few exceptions, such as late July, early June, and late Sept., mainly because all it did was RAIN!! I wouldn't mind a break from that so that Septoria Leaf Spot goes down, but I won't wish for what I don't want. Drought could cause quite a few other issues.

    I worked on my "greenhouse" a bit. It hit 40 today, and the temperature inside the cover while being vented ever so slightly was about 70-75 F. Once the sun got off it this past evening it maintained 55-60 F. Not bad! I'll definitely wait until mid March to sow warm weather crops like tomatoes and peppers, once the daylight hours reach 12 hours, much more ideal for those, rather than our current just above 10. I have started Rouge Grenobloise lettuce, Rocky Top mix lettuce, Bloomsdale Long Standing spinach, peas for salad leaves, mustard greens, collards, and kale for hopefully putting out in early March under cover. I'd love to be picking when most people are planting greens in late March/early April around here. I love the Rouge Grenobloise lettuce, because, not only is it cold tolerant and delicious, but being a Batavian, I can start to harvest lower leaves 4 weeks after it's put out, continuously picking throughout the spring. It's much better than, say, 1 pick from iceberg.

    Norm, I bet gardening in zone 10 can be nice. I like the break that winter brings for planning, seed ordering, etc., but being able to grow all at this time of year outdoors would certainly have its perks. Of course, the really long summers would probably be a pain, considering how many cool weather crops we eat. Good luck on your garden this year. Mulch would probably be a good idea. Keeping that soil cool would be another benefit of the mulch, which would probably help you grow more cool weather crops if the summer comes on too quickly.

  • Norm Wilson(zone10/Sunset zone24)
    4 years ago

    Good to hear form everyone. @Jack, we are just getting fully grown chickens. I don't trust either us or our dogs (who have a fetish for killing small birds (!!) to raise them just yet. There is a place in East County that has full size girls.

    @jacoblockhuff It is very nice to be able to grow year round. The thing is always with the water. We have a rainwater tank and if it's not full... it really shows in our water. Our city water is horrible, extremely salty, and has to be filtered even for plants. I've killed many plants before knowing this. So... I just hope that our rainwater holds for the summer season. We have deep beds and work on building up the tolerance for the crops, and I typically choose a lot of drought tolerant crops...

    It is looking seriously likely we are going into drought, which is not good at all. I am concerned about our state, and also concerned as there has been some drama in San Diego where lots and lots of people (including us) have been receiving water bills far higher than normal. Ours was so high we thought there was a severe leak, until I read some information about it online. Some people are getting water bills in the thousands!

    Let year, my beans did not do so well - I am hoping that my green beans do better this year as that's one of my favorite vegetables. I stopped growing my warm weather crops far too early last year - I could have seriously let my tomatoes and everything else go way into November. Worst thing that happens is I get a lot of warm weather crops. Trying more corn this year, and thinking I may splurge on a beautiful variety from Native Seeds...

    No news on the rats yet. They checked today and all traps are empty. Told the spouse if they don't catch the rats I will shoot them myself with a BB gun, that didn't go over so well... haha

  • jacoblockcuff (z5b/6a CNTRL Missouri
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    I'm thankful that we don't have that here, at least as long as we've lived here. Crazy! It's funny how much we take water for granted. Does it get extremely hot there, or is it just dry? I assume you're in California judging from sunset zone 24.

    By the way, I just recently discovered these sunset zone maps. I love them! They give a lot more detail that a usda hardiness zone maps don't give. For example, were USDA 6, so our average low is obviously anywhere between 0 and -10 at least once (this year we've been on the 6a side, low of -8 once and about -4 2-3 times), but this doesn't take into consideration heat, how long the cold season lasts, which is often more damaging than the low itself, and the growing season. The sunset zones take all this into account. I sure wish that seed companies would use them!

  • Norm Wilson(zone10/Sunset zone24)
    4 years ago

    We're not in a zone where it typically gets super hot, as we are close to the ocean. Typically a lot of May/June gloom, where it will be couldy/marine layer until the mid day and then sun. But we are always 10 degrees or more cooler than even two miles east. So that's nice. Also we do not have frost here, and believe it or not, in SD County, a lot of places get frost. which can be a big surprise if you don't know to watch for it. Also nice. Just always with the water... We have gotten rain during the summer twice since I have lived here. Twice!!

  • Norm Wilson(zone10/Sunset zone24)
    4 years ago

    I love the Sunset maps too. It made a lot more sense about what plants would be suitable for outdoor landscapes here, bc our climate is soooo different from even a few miles inland. I love the descriptions they give,

  • Kevin Zone 6b - PIT, PA
    4 years ago

    Norm and Jacob - I do like those sunset maps! I’ve never really looked into them until now. As you said it would be nice if the seed companies adopted them.


    Norm - I do hope you can stay away from drought. I can’t imagine having to deal with that. We sure do take our water for granted here.


    im going to start the February thread. Holy cow where did This first month go!?

  • Matt
    4 years ago

    @LoneJack

    yes It is heated and the temps are around 60F recently. Thanks for informing me about that. There is a company out in Oregon I've been going with for over 4 years now. Seedrack.com they have lots but always looking for new places.

  • Norm Wilson(zone10/Sunset zone24)
    4 years ago

    OMG! It's February already! Holy mackerel. I'll stay tuned for the new thread