Ah, the month of April. It comes in fits and starts – cruelly tempting you with hot warm days full of sunshine, and then punishing your optimism by swinging violently back into winter. This past weekend we had a much needed injection of sunshine and heat, getting up to 80F and just as quickly this Monday we dropped 50F and had sleet and snow, continuing on into today.
But while we did have the nice weather, we took advantage. We spent lots of time outside with our son, walking around the neighborhood, chasing him around the yard. And while he and his pregnant mother napped, I took the time to get the vegetable garden ready.
First order of business was cleaning up the maple seeds covering the raised beds. These little helicopters were starting to sprout in the nice soil we had set up for the veggies last summer. Then we made a trip to the local garden store and grabbed some seed packets and a seed starting kit.
I spent some time marking off the square feet on the raised beds so I could better tell where each plant was intended to be, and then I sowed the carrot seeds, Walla Walla onions, and green onions. I had previously stuck a few garlic cloves in the ground once they’d started sprouting inside our fridge – we’ll see if they continue out in the garden. This is our first try and gardening, so I’m expecting plenty of losses. I planted only the most cold hardy seeds, since we knew a couple cold days remained in the forecast, and typical last frost date here is the very end of April.
Then it was on to setting up the seed starter. Inspired by Joe Hewitt’s post some time ago, I had ordered some neat varieties of heirloom tomatoes last year. Honestly, that post is beautiful and I strongly urge you to stop over and just look at all the varieties of tomatoes he grew. For references, we are trying out: German Red Strawberry, “Super” San Marzano, Coyote, Orange Russian 117, and Texas Star. I bought them from TomatoFest online.
So I set out to try and get seedlings started of some of those varieties – even though neither my wife nor I are big on eating tomatoes raw. We’re more of the pasta sauce or salsa tomato eaters, thank you. I’m a bit worried that we started the process too late and the growing season might not be long enough to take full advantage of them all, but I guess we’ll see.
For each plant type and starter disc of peat moss, I sowed 2-3 seeds. For the heirloom tomatoes, I used 4 discs for each variety, and am hoping to get at least 2 good plants each. My garden is likely to be crammed, so I don’t know if they’ll all fit if I do get that sort of yield – if so, I’ll try and get my parents to take them, since my father absolutely loves tomatoes. I think it should be interesting to see his reaction when he starts getting bizarre small yellow tomatoes the size of grapes, or large yellow-orange beefsteak looking fruit.
In addition to the tomatoes, I started off a large number of brussel sprout seedlings, zucchini, cilantro, dill, and sweet marjoram. The latter two are mainly just because we had leftover seeds from a “Chia Herb” set in our stockings from my in-laws last Christmas.