Starting Seeds – Take Two

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The Mary Washington asparagus crowns never did sprout. It’s been a long, wet, cold spring here. Maybe they are still down there thinking about it. Probably the ground was too cold and wet when I put them in and they have succumbed to rot. I will dig them up when the sweet potato slips arrive from Sand Hill Preservation and see. In the mean time, I am starting asparagus from seed. Italian seed, no less. The packet says, “Asparago Precoce d’Argentuil” which I am pretty sure means early asparagus and leaves a bit to be desired on the descriptive end. For $2.99 I figured it was worth a try. I’ve already lost this year’s growth since the 1-year-old crowns didn’t make it and I really want enough asparagus to pickle some eventually. I broke down and bought asparagus this year, planning to pickle some of it, but we devoured it.

And speaking of things being devoured. Where are my beautiful Appaloosa beans? I know I planted an entire 4′ x 4′ of them! OK, it was mid-April. And that same wet, cold rainy spring that I mentioned earlier. But still, they are in a raised bed against the house in a nice sunny spot. ONE bean came up–and something ate the top of it off. Ugh. Remind me to reseed that planter bed now that it is finally warming up. Where did I just read not to rush to plant your bean seeds because you will just end up wasting a lot of seeds? Sometimes I think I am just gardening to learn patience.

But then I have a week of eating like we just had. I have a big board in the kitchen and last weekend I wrote down everything in or from the garden that was ready for us to eat; shell peas and snap peas, potatoes, salad greens, spinach, chard, beets, green onions, strawberries, oregano, celery, chives, carrots and the last of the kale and parsnips. Then I set about eating or finding a way to preserve all of it. It was actually fun trying to ‘live off the land’ there for a little while. And the vegetable curry I prepared in the middle of the week made it all worth while.

Today I also started some of the Principe Borghese tomatoes that I love for drying. I know, it’s mid-May. But last year, I was wishing I had started a second round of them by the time the first group were finished and the tomatoes were all in the dryer. Assuming it ever warms up this year, I may want them again. I also started Bottle, Dipper and Corsican Hard-shelled gourds. It’s probably warm enough for them to sprout outside, the watermelons and pumpkins are coming up, but I figured, why torture the poor things? They can get started under the grow lights with the last of the peppers and go into the garden when it really is ready for them. Plus, I don’t know where I am going to put them yet. And there’s all those sweet potatoes yet to fit in.

And did I mention that I started 40 or so quinoa plants? I was thinking about experimenting with a quinoa and sunflower version of The Three Sisters. I got some nice looking Hopi sunflowers from Native Seeds to mix in with the quinoa. I started a couple varieties of pumpkins in the bin to shade the soil and keep the weeds down. And I’m wondering if I can grow some pole beans up the quinoa. I think the sunflowers will be strong enough. The quinoa part might be crazy. I’m still reading up on it.

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