Starting Seeds in March

This has to be the longest winter I can remember. In 2008 we had lots of snow but it didn’t stick around for 3 months as it has this year. We can’t even put up our third greenhouse yet due to snow on the ground! Did I mention it is March 3rd?

tomato-seeds-2tomato-seeds-racks

Above are pictures of our tomato babies, as yet unborn. There are approximately 5000 seeds in the various gray cells. We bottom watered them with almost a gallon of hot water for each flat on March 1st and then the were moved to the shelves under the lights. In about 7 days they will germinate. It’s actually quite exciting checking them everyday, most times twice a day, to see if they’ve raised their tiny, green heads.

tomato-seeds

This is a close up of some of the cells. I spent several hours every day spreading the tiny seeds in rows of 50 to 35 seeds in each cell. This year I even used tweezers to keep them orderly. Doing it over a couple days saved my back big time!

Once they get their first set of true leaves, I will transplant them into 3.5″ pots and they will go out into the greenhouses.

One very important tip when starting seeds: Use a sterile seed starting/germination mix. It will help tremendously in not getting damping off. Nothing is worse than seeing them lush and healthy one day and watching them fall over the next. Very sad. It doesn’t matter whether you are starting tomatoes or petunias in a greenhouse or inside your family home. Since I started using a sterile mix I haven’t had damping off. You can get it at NW Seed and Pet and possibly other big box stores.

Mucho Nacho Jalapeños and Emerald Fire Jalapeños -A Germinators Dream! (at least this year)

Every once in a while you meet a plant that you really like. This year, mine is the Mucho Nacho Jalapeño and the Emerald Fire Jalapeño, Peppers are notoriously hard to germinate, especially the superhots (Carolina Reapers, Ghost and Trinidad Scorpions) and the hot (Tabasco, Habanero, Serrano, Hungarian Yellow Wax etc.) to mildly hot (Jalapeños, Numex Big Jim, Anaheims, Poblanos etc.) Some of the hot peppers can take up to 4 weeks or more to germinate and then if you get 50% you think you are doing pretty good.

 

mucho-nacho-jalapeno2Mucho Nacho is a new one for me this year. It is supposed to be hotter, fatter, longer, more prolific, well, you get the picture, than a regular Jalapeño. It was the first one to germinate and it was very happy, vibrant and healthy. Lush. I can’t say enough about it.

emerald-fire-jalapeno

The Emerald Fire was a close second. Germination on both of these were close to 90 – 95% which is really good. Nice strong stems, beautiful true leaves, easy to handle when transplanting into 3.5” pots.

For those of you who germinate your own seeds in a greenhouse you can understand how happy I was to handle these guys. Some plants, especially flowers practically require magnifying glassed and tweezers!

jalapeno-green-pepperMucho Nacho Jalapeños – 68-70 Days

An impressive Jalapeño from Mexico, large, 4” fruits are fatter, thicker, heavier, hotter, and up to a full inch longer than regular Jalapeños. They start off green and mature to red. Vigorous and prolific, they set heavy loads about a week earlier than is typical of Jalapeños.

ad8bf754-f0b0-446d-992d-573a80710745_1000Emerald Fire Jalapeño – 90 Days

These hot peppers are good for salsa, pickling, grilling, and stuffing, Extra-large, thick-walled, crack-resistant peppers, plump and delicious. Emerald Fire is very prolific and there will be enough peppers to share with your friends and family!

Winner of a 2015 All-America Selection, Emerald Fire is compact enough for patio containers, but may need some support to hold up all the peppers! Easy to grow, standing up to heat, humidity, and refuses to crack. Long season but worth the wait!

All About Petunias (National Gardening Association)

I have always loved petunias. They were the first flowers I ever grew. I lived in Manteca, CA in a travel trailer at the time. I remember waking up one day and deciding I was going to learn about flowers. I bought a flat of red, white and blue petunias and a container for them to go into. I was hooked and the rest is history. I love the array of colors, the shapes and the versatility. Did you know that the purple ones have the strongest scent? My favorite is the “California Giants” Huge, ruffled flowers with deep contrasting veining in the throats. Here is an interesting article I found on the internet about the history of petunias.

big-petunia3

large-petunia-112

I am hoping this article shows up correctly. Apparently you need to click on thelink below.

Petunias are one of the most popular bedding plants ever grown. Among the array of colors, shapes, sizes and habits available, there is bound to be something to please every gardener. It wasn’t always like this though.

Source: All About Petunias (National Gardening Association)

Freaky Fruits: Seeds Sprouting Inside Tomato – Garden Culture Magazine

seeds-sprouting-inside-tomato-1Interesting article. I’ve seen seeds germinating inside of tomatoes but NEVER to this extent.

What’s the real cause of seeds sprouting inside tomato fruits? It’s not normal, at least not in years past. Is it a GMO thing, or something else entirely?

Source: Freaky Fruits: Seeds Sprouting Inside Tomato – Garden Culture Magazine

Super Hot and Hot Peppers Planted

Trinidad-Scorpion-Hot-Pepper

Yesterday, I planted my super hots and hot peppers. The super hots are: Trinidad Scorpion, Chocolate Trinidad Scorpion, Carolina Reaper, Ghost Pepper and Peach Ghost Pepper. The plain old hot peppers, the one that destroy-your-tastebuds-but-don’t-take-your-face-off are: Tabasco, Serrano, Cayenne, Hungarian Yellow Was, Thai and Habanero. The next peppers are still too hot for me; they are Jalapeno, TAM Jalapeno (customer request, supposedly a milder Jalapeno) Padron, Anaheim, Poblano,Chinese Five Color and Golden Greek Pepperoncini.

Super hot peppers are notorious for poor germination and long time coming up. That’s why I start them sooner than the sweets. Hot peppers like Habanara and Cayenne also require longer germination times.

I always use a germination mix which is finer than regular potting mix and supposedly sterile which cuts down on things like damping off, a fungal disease. Nothing is worse than seeing the babies raise their pretty green heads and the next day wondering why they all fell down. And died. Very sad.

They are under lights in our dining room, nice and toasty warm. I bottom watered with hot water to get them started. Once they come up I will use warm water.

As i look out at the white beauty, I marvel that I am able to start seeds so early. We use ordinary space heaters to keep the greenhouse warm.

Be on the look out for more posts describing the peppers. Gives you something to look forward to…warmer temps, green grass, daffodils and crocus….

 

Chinese Five Color – a customer favorite, hot but not too hot, so they say. I am a wimp!

pepper chinese five color

Planting Flower Seeds in the Snow

I started 36 kinds of flowers today, impatiens, petunias, pansies, lobelia, snapdragons, canterbury bells, stock and schizanthus. Was thinking I’d only need 12 seed flats for the pansies, then got to thinking about how much I’d like the other flowers to be blooming if possible and they take a long time from seed to flowering. This year I am starting them a little over 2 weeks earlier. Hard to believe I am in the greenhouse with no coat enjoying the sunshine before the incoming snowstorm…in December no less.

I wanted to start a petunia called petunia grandiflora superbissima  and couldn’t find any seed in the states. Thompson and Morgan used to have some retail outlets here and then for some reason stopped a couple of years ago. Made me sad, they had some really cool varieties. After doing an internet search for the seed, I found them available from three different seed houses in the UK. Two have agreed to sell them to me, I just hope shipping isn’t horrendous. Here is a picture of this flower. Beautiful. 4 to 5″ blooms, frilly with gorgeous and unusual veining in the throat. They are pinks and purples. They also have white but I haven’t had any that I remember. They come as a mixed color. One of my favorites.

big-petunia3big-petunias-3big-petunias-6

Best Lemon Crinkle Cookies

This are a new recipe for me. Definitely a keeper. I have to say it is the best lemon cookie I have ever put in my mouth. Especially warm from the oven. It is made with a triple whammy of lemon: lemon extract, fresh lemon juice and lemon zest. Not what you think of in a holiday cookie but still yummy. (Of course, with the powdered sugar you could say it is snowman who laid down!)
lermon-cookies

Lemon Crinkle Cookies

 Ingredients
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 10 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup + 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp lemon zest (from about 2 medium lemons)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 tsp lemon extract
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 5 drops yellow food coloring (optional)
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
  • In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip together butter, sugar and lemon zest until pale and fluffy (occasionally scrape down bowl throughout entire mixing process if not using a paddle attachment that constantly scrapes bowl). Mix in egg then blend in egg yolk. Add lemon juice, lemon extract, vanilla extract and optional yellow food coloring and mix until combined. With mixer set on low speed, slowly add in dry ingredients and mix just until combined.
  • Pour powdered sugar into a small bowl. Scoop dough out about 1 1/2 Tbsp at a time (25g each) and shape into a ball, then drop in powdered sugar and roll to evenly coat. Transfer to a parchment paper or Silpat lined baking sheet, repeat with remaining dough and space cookies 2-inches apart on baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven 10 – 13 minutes. Cool on baking sheet several minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool. Store in an airtight container.
  • Recipe Source: Cooking Classy