The Seedling Factory

seedlings_021613The seedling factory, as I like to call it, continues to perform. I’ve got to get these babies in the ground real soon now although if I can get them in within the next few days, they’ll be right on schedule as far as the plans I threw together way back in the autumn. Actually I’ve got to get them out, either that or buy some more lights to turn the seed starting stand into a double decker. It’s time to get the next chapter started: tomatoes, peppers, etc., the tender annuals.

These have done really well, although I had some problems with damping off early on, something I’ve never had a problem with before. For some reason the diCicco broccoli was especially prone to it so that I lost about half of them. Of course those were the most expensive seeds so I’m not surprised, such is my luck.

baby leeks

Baby Leeks

I’m drawn toward doing things “the old way” and the more natural way in many cases, so that I’ve started collecting some small terracotta 4″ pots to use as seedling starters. Terracotta has its pros and cons, just like plastic, but I honestly feel better about using a more natural substance rather than petroleum based disposable plastic cell packs. Besides, they just look neat :-).

When I do get them planted, I’m probably going to have to fill out the ranks a bit with some purchased cabbages, etc., since I lost so many to damping off, but that might not be a bad thing as it’ll give me a bit more variety and a chance to see what does the best.

seedling_cabbage

Cabbage ‘Earliana’ starts

The cabbage in particular is just going insane. I swear some of them look like they’re already trying to head; I just hope they’re not in for a rude awakening when I get them out into the garden proper. I’ve never tried cabbage before, it’s really a cool season crop. For this reason I purposely chose an early variety Burpee’s ‘Earliana‘, which is supposed to mature quite quickly. Excessive heat will cause cool season crops to “bolt” or shoot up to set seed; it also will make them bitter, and while not exactly inedible, not very nice. This is one reason that we here in the South will plant collard greens in the fall with the expectation of the greens maturing after frost. I tried planting some of these cool season crops in the fall a couple years ago and wasn’t very successful, so I’m trying something a bit different this year.

A (different) Apple Every Day

sunny_tree

Sunny helps out

So I guess this will be a week’s worth. I’ve received an order of seven apple trees, each a different variety, from Century Farms Orchard in Altamahaw, North Carolina. We got these the week of February 3rd, right on time. They arrived in excellent shape. I wish I could say the same for the weather. Of course it seemed the time of the Inundation was coincident with the trees arriving, and I’d procrastinated about digging the holes and having them ready so that when a fairly dry 2-3 day window appeared I was faced with the problem of planting seven apple trees in a short amount of time. In the mushy field. I managed to get four of them planted on Saturday by really pushing it, and Sunny helped with the remaining three on Sunday morning so that we just missed the next storm system and its 2-3 inches of expected rainfall. And then of course this weekend, we’re expecting a hard freeze with temperatures down in the 20s. Fortunately everything I’ve read seems to point up that once in the ground the trees shouldn’t suffer from the temps.

apple tree

Newly planted apple tree

As mentioned, there are seven different apple varieties, all old Southern types: ‘Carolina Red June’; ‘Summer Banana’; ‘Roxbury Russet’; ‘Bevan’s Favorite’; ‘Mary Reid’; ‘Mollies Delicious’ (that’s apparently how it’s actually spelled); and ‘Aunt Rachel’. These trees are all grafted onto semi-dwarf rootstock, so I’m hopeful that they won’t take quite as long to produce as a standard tree would. I’ve got these a bit close at 12′ although most of the recommendations I can find do say 12 to 15 feet apart.

Now of course, I get to dig six more holes for the peach trees that are supposed to arrive next week!

infant orchard

Orchard in the making