Monday, February 23, 2009

Hello little guys

My baby plants are growing. I've started some dwarf tomatoes to try as windowsill - patio - windowsill plants. As many of you may know, tomatoes are perennials. I am not sure how long lived our cultivated (and wild) varieties are but I intend to find out.

Little leek babies - first portrait.

I've also started some really cool looking leeks called Saint Victors, from another generous Homegrown Goodness guy who was getting some seeds from the Long Island Seed Project (LISP). May I recommend a browse of their seed selections if you are interesting in plant breeding. What is really neat about this leek is that they have selected to improve its tendancy to turn bright purple in the fall.

My hot peppers that I pre-sprouted* are started to root and the Pasilla, Fish, Small decorative pointed (collected this one at a park - ssshhh, don't tell - so I'm not sure what it was - I promise I only picked up some from the ground, really), and Jalapenos are now potted up.

Speaking of peppers, my overwintered peppers are picking up. Here is the Long Red Cayenne which in early January I figured was a goner because I thought I saw spots on it. Turns out that it overcame whatever was the problem after being exiled to the laundry room for a week.

Long red cayenne in its third overwinter. Happy birthday - you're four!

How are your plants overwintering? Started any yet?

Extra! Extra!

* Pre-sprouting or chitting: This refers to starting your plants out of the soil. People often green-sprout or chit potatoes. It is a useful technique for seeds that are hard to germinate too, either because they are hard to keep evenly moist during germination or because they require a lot of heat or some other reason. It is also a good way to check the germination rate of old seeds.

How I pre-sprout is that I moisten a paper towel, not dripping, put seeds on it and then fold it carefully and place in a labelled plastic bag. I place the plastic bags in a warm place and check daily. This is by no means the only technqiue and I Wet My Plants uses the more resilant coffee filter. As I'm writing this, I'm wondering if you could also use something re-usable like soft tightly woven cloth? I'll have to give it a try. One potential problem are the roots growing into the weave which occasionally happens when you forget to check daily. Then with the paper towel, you can carefully pull it apart to extract the trapped seedling. If a bit of paper towel remains, it's not generally a problem as it breaks down in the soil.


Anonymous said...

Our overwinter veggies are starting to really take off here too. Everything is up and happy! Also put in the first of our seeds yesterday. Definitely only put the cold tolerant stuff in the ground... the rest are starting in the windows for now.

Looking forward to watching your sprouts grow!

Dan said...

Are the leeks winter sown ones? I planted some lettuce and green onions and stuck them out in the cold frame, how long do you think it will take until they germinate, near the end of march? Or maybe they will die?

My hot peppers just popped up last night, 6 days and seeded in a cell pack with a heat mat. I am a happy gardener!

Ottawa Gardener said...

No, I sowed these inside. Let me wrack my brain, I don't think I saw any green shoots last year in my WS stuff until the snow was mostly melted so April or so. I remember tossing some lettuce seeds down in my coldframe in February one year and they came up near the end of March.

Bernard and Nicole said...

We used a similar technique for germinating bean seeds last year. We put then into little bowls, rinsed and drained then, and covered with a doubled over dampened wash cloth. We rinsed them once or twice daily with fresh water and left them in a cool room. Worked like a charm, even better than starting them indoors in soil. We did the pole peas this way, too. The only trick is to make sure not to break off the crisp roots when planting.

Summerwolf said...

Hey, for the tougher to germinate ones, would a sprouter like the Biosta work to get them started? I use that for sprouting beans and such for eating but I was just curious if that would work as well.

pdxlisa said...


Very nice blog. Like you I am particularly interested in perennial food plants. I'll be overwintering peppers this year too. I found a species that is supposed to be cold tolerant, called capsicum pubescens, common names include rocoto and manzano. They are just starting to blossom, very exciting.