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Planting Seeds 2011 Garden Journal part1

Updated on February 1, 2015
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Yvonne is a Louisiana Master Gardener and a former president of the Folsom Native Plant Society. She gives talks about sustainable gardens.

Seed Packets and Labels


Starting Seeds for Spring Garden

This is the first year in a while that I will have time to plant a vegetable and herb garden. As with most of my gardening endeavors, I will use sustainable and organic techniques. I am going to do my best to keep a step by step record of the whole process here.

Instead of purchasing plants, this year I am going to start seeds for as many vegetables and herbs as I can, in my greenhouse/screen porch about six to eight weeks before the last frost date.

Planting from seeds is a much more economical way of gardening and you have more control over whether or not chemicals are used on the seedlings.

Seed Poll

Do you plant seeds or buy plants?

See results

Sprouting Sugar Snap Peas

Sprouting peas inside insures proper germination and saves time.
Sprouting peas inside insures proper germination and saves time. | Source

January 15 - Sugar Snap Peas

Here in the south we grow sugar snap peas during the winter and early spring. Since the weather was nasty outside, I decided to sprout them inside. Another good reason to do this is to test the germination rate of the seeds.

I lined a clean plastic bowl with paper towels and poured the sugar snap peas, that I planned to plant, in. Then I covered them with another layer of towels and added some water. For the next week or so, I kept them very moist and after a few days, some of the roots begin to pop out.

I added water when the paper towels began to dry out and changed the top paper towel when it looked like some mold was growing. I had to leave them in the bowl for longer than I wanted, because the weather was cold and rainy.  The garden soil was to wet to plant.

Tomatoes, Peppers and Herbs

It's less expensive to start vegetable plants from seed.
It's less expensive to start vegetable plants from seed. | Source

January 18 - Tomatoes and Peppers

Started seeds in peat pots out in the greenhouse / back porch, including:

Grape Tomatoes, Marconi Italian Peppers, Sweet Banana Peppers, Tam Jalapeno (mild) Peppers and Summer Savory.

The Marconi and Tam Jalapeno peppers were heirloom varieties. A friend of mine who lives nearby is starting heirloom tomatoes. We plan to trade and share the plants that we grow.

When starting seeds, you need a lighter, finer potting soil with plenty of peat moss. It is a little more expensive, but you don't need that much and you'll get much better results. Peat pellets are also good and my friend has had lots of success with them.

Some seeds, like tomatoes and peppers, need to be exposed to light in order to germinate.  It's best to not plant them too deep and using light potting soil also helps.  Getting the growing kits with the plastic pan and clear top also aids in germination.

January 21-24 started Herbs, Lettuce, Grape Tomatoes

Started more seeds in peat pots, including:

More Grape Tomatoes, Leaf lettuce, Kohlrabi, Thyme, Sage, Basil, Chamomile, Chives, Borage, Stevia and flat leaf Parsley. I grow most of the herbs in a container garden right by my kitchen door.

Transplanted the Sugar Snap Pea sprouts into peat pots because it's too wet to plant them outside.

Peat pots should be soaked in water before using them. That's where the plastic pans come in handy. You can just line up your peat pots and add water in them and let them soak it up. Then add the potting soil and plant the seeds.

Tiny seeds like summer savory, stevia and thyme should be pressed into the soil. Always follow the directions on the back of the seed package.

Herb Seeds and Seed Starting Kits

How to Start Vegetable Seeds Video

Mesclun Salad Seeds Sprouting

Once these have a few more leaves, I'll pull the peat pots apart and plant them outside.
Once these have a few more leaves, I'll pull the peat pots apart and plant them outside. | Source

January 27

Some of the leaf lettuce and Chamomile seeds are beginning to sprout. I hoped that the tomato and pepper seeds would be up by now, but we had a few freezing nights and the greenhouse temperature got down into the low fifties. The ideal sprouting temperature for these vegetables is in the 70 to 80 degree range. Hopefully they will sprout in a week or so.  We still have time because our last frost is usually around March 15th.

February 1 - Finally, More Sprouts

Thank goodness, we had a couple of warm days and the greenhouse temperature stayed from 70-80 degrees. Many things are sprouting.

The lettuce mix is up.

Herbs sprouting include Summer Savory, Thyme, Basil and Chamomile.

Cherry tomatoes are up and a couple of Tam Jalapeno Peppers, too.

Kohlrabi sprouts are doing well and sugar snap peas, too.

February 6 - Grape Tomatoes & Peppers Finally Sprouting

More of the Tam Jalapeno, Marconi and Sweet Banana peppers are beginning to sprout, but they are tiny. Most of the large red cherry tomatoes which were planted on Jan. 18 are up. A few of the Juliet grape tomatoes that were planted on Jan. 21 are up, too.

The Basil is up and I think I see one tiny Stevia, or maybe it's just wishful thinking.

Because of the cool weather, it has taken longer for everything to sprout.

There were also complications when a windstorm knocked over 2 of the trays. Most of the pots were saved, but I'm not expecting the true lavender to come up. It was a gamble anyway because of the heat and humidity here in the south.

February 27 - Almost All Are Up

Almost all of the vegetables and herbs that are going to sprout have come up. The incident with the shaky plant stand, viscuine and the strong windstorm took a toll on the chives, half of the Italian Basil, the True Lavender and some of the Stevia.

I think the Borage and Garden Sage seeds were too old. I thought they might be, but figured I'd give it a shot. I can always replant in the same pots.

One late surprise was the hundreds of dust like Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis) seeds that I had saved from some wild stock. They finally are beginning to sprout and I should have plenty of plants for my hummingbird and butterfly garden as well as a few to share with friends.

I have already transplanted some sugar snap pea plants as well as lettuce, kohlrabi and thyme. I also shared the extra ones with my good friends.

May - June Squash & Canteloupe Photos

2-3 different kinds of bees are pollinating this Squash blossom.
2-3 different kinds of bees are pollinating this Squash blossom. | Source

Squash and Canteloupes began in Late May

Our first yellow squash... and Siamese twins!
Our first yellow squash... and Siamese twins! | Source
Baby Butternut Squash
Baby Butternut Squash | Source
Baby Canteloupe
Baby Canteloupe | Source
Sweet Potato Squash has beautiful leaves.
Sweet Potato Squash has beautiful leaves. | Source

March 26 - Squash, Other Cucurbits and Beans

Squash and Cucurbits
The weather is warm down here in Louisiana and many of my friends have squash seedlings coming up in their garden.

I'm a little behind with the squash because I have been fighting an insidious imported weedy vine called 'Chinese Bush Killer' which has taken over the area where I want to plant the squash this year. I'm having to dig up every part of the root, because even a sliver can start a new plant.

Because this will probably take another day or so, I decided to start some Butternut, Zucchini and yellow straight neck squash seeds in small peat pots. I also started Cantaloupe and Burpless Cucumbers.

When the Cucurbit section of the garden is ready, I can just make the hills and place some well rotten chicken manure (courtesy of my three hens) and pop about 3 of the peat pots in each hill. Hopefully they will germinate quickly so my squash plants won't be too far behind.

Just as I did with the peas, I'm germinating the pole beans inside in wet paper towels. I've started Romano and Scarlett Runner Beans in this manner. The sugar snap peas are blooming and will soon begin to bear. When the roots begin to form on the bean seeds, I'll plant them a few inches away from the row of peas along the fence. The peas will begin to decline by late April or early May and the beans will take their place.

Beans and peas and other legumes enrich the soil because nitrogen nodules are formed on their roots.

Paper Pot Maker

Eco Friendly Plant Pot - Pot Maker - Makes Biodegradable Plant Pots from Newspaper
Eco Friendly Plant Pot - Pot Maker - Makes Biodegradable Plant Pots from Newspaper
I've wanted one of these for years and I finally ordered one from Amazon. I love it! I was able to quickly transform an old newspaper into 72 paper pots that can be used for starting seeds or transplanting seedlings from flats.

April 2 - Paper Pot Maker Arrived

This little wooden gadget is easy to use, but here are a few tips that may help you make better pots.

1. Use a paper cutter to cut strips that are 3 1/2" X 20". The longer strips will make sturdier pots.

2. When folding the bottom of the pot, make 5-6 small folds, almost like pinching a pie crust. The pot will sit better and stay together, too.

3. To remove the pot, carefully twist it and it usually will come off easily, unless you rolled the paper too tightly.

In a short time I was able to transplant some Giant Coneflower (Rudbeckia maxima) seedlings into 36 of the little pots. When they are big enough to put out into the garden, all I'll have to do is dig a hole and pop the whole thing into the soil.

It's a great way to be a green gardener and in a very short time, you'll get your money back from what you would have spent on peat pots.

Tomatoes, Peppers, Eggplant and Basil

I started most of the vegetables in the container garden from seed.
I started most of the vegetables in the container garden from seed. | Source

Tomatoes, Peppers and Beans

Sweet Banana Peppers
Sweet Banana Peppers | Source
Green Large Cherry Tomatoes.  I've been harvesting them for over a week.
Green Large Cherry Tomatoes. I've been harvesting them for over a week. | Source
Contender Bush Bean Flowers
Contender Bush Bean Flowers | Source
Contender Beans continue producing in the heat of the south.
Contender Beans continue producing in the heat of the south. | Source

June 11 - Garden is Producing

Despite the 4 month drought, the garden is producing. I have been watering it every few days. Since I have drip hoses and a water timer set up, all I have to do is set the timer and it turns off when the time is up. That is one of the best investments I have made.

Some of the vegetables that we have already enjoyed are sugar snap peas, beans, squash, eggplant, tomatoes and peppers. I've cooked them many different ways, but my favorite is a ratatouille dish made with fresh herbs served over whole wheat pasta, that I threw together myself. I'll have to write down the recipe and put it into another hub.

I picked the first Contender bush beans yesterday. They come in bush or pole varieties. I like the bush bean when I want to get large quantities at one time to put them up. Bush beans are also good if you have a large family.

Tell us about your vegetable garden.

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