The Yellow Farmhouse Garden

March 28, 2014

Seed savers legacy

Filed under: Seed Starting,Storage and Preservation — bob @ 1:32 pm

Many long time gardeners have tried to save seeds only to let them go after a year or two. There’s been a few times in years past when, for one reason or another, I’ve let varieties slip through my fingers.

The best luck I’ve had is keeping my own variety of tomato seeds for years, as I’ve written about in past blog posts. But that pales in comparison to an Ann Arbor, Michigan area gardener who died recently. He left behind a collection of seeds that he had been saving for decades. Over 60 varieties of heritage annuals, biennials and vegetable seeds are in this treasure trove.

All of that valuable plant genetics could have been lost in a single year if not for a group of like-minded gardeners. Several of his friends got together and came up with a plan to save the work of that dedicated seed saver.

Each person took a few varieties and agreed to grow them. Then, at the end of the season, they would harvest the seeds and share them with the rest of the group. That way no one particular gardener had to take on the responsibility of growing all 60 varieties.

Many of those plant varieties were around before the gardener was born. The seeds passed into his hands for awhile, he nurtured and propagated  them. Now they are passing into new hands.

What a terrific gift to pass on to a new generation.


March 25, 2014

Hoop house allows for early spring planting

Filed under: Greenhouse,Vegetables — bob @ 3:54 pm

It looks like it was a good decision to put up my hoop house last fall. As it looks right now, it could be a late start to the outdoor gardening season, although that could turn around very quickly.

The soil is still frozen in some parts of the garden, but in the hoop house, the soil temperatures range from about 64 degrees F in the center of the planting area to around 48 degrees F  right along the edges.

That means it’s time to plant some of those cool season vegetables  into the hoop house. My plan is to get radishes, spinach, and lettuce all in this week. The seeds are going directly into the soil.

Since these are all cool weather plants, they will do fine even if we happen to get one last Arctic vortex blast.

I messed up the red fluid in my soil thermometer when I dropped it out on the way to the hoop house. Instead, I went to the kitchen and got out one of our kitchen thermometers and used that to take the soil temperature –it’s the same one I used to check the corned beef on Saint Patrick’s Day.

I'm using a kitchen thermometer to measure the soil temperature in the

I’m using a kitchen thermometer to measure the soil temperature in the

It is good wholesome garden out there after all and the thermometer probe cleaned up nicely with a little dish washing detergent. But, don’t tell Judy, I’m not 100% sure she’ll buy that argument.


March 11, 2014

Starting sweet potato slips

Filed under: Transplants,Vegetables — bob @ 9:39 am

I’ve already started growing some sweet potato vines that I will use to take cuttings, more commonly know as slips. It’s not always easy to find sweet potato slips to plant when you need them. In years past I’ve had to visit several garden centers before finally tracking them down. Calling ahead doesn’t always seem to help either.

The best way to be sure you have sweet potatoes to plant is to grow your own. It’s really a very simple process.

I’ve seen all kinds of contraptions that people have come up with to grow sweet potato slips, most of them involve suspending a sweet potato root over water. All you really need to do is to place a sweet potato root into a container of damp potting mix  about two inches deep. Keep the container in a warm spot — 75 degrees F and be sure it stays moist. An electric heat mat may help if you don’t have a warm spot.

For the next step, I'll cover the sweet potato with soil.

For the next step, I’ll cover the sweet potato with soil.

After a couple of weeks, the sweet potato will begin to root and produce sprouts. Pull the new sprouts off of the sweet potato once they reach eight inches or so in length. They should have a developing root system at that stage and are ready for planting.

Using this method you can grow your own slips year after year.


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