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The Old Guy's Garden Record

Our senior garden - 2/6/2010


February 4, 2010 - A New Seed Supplier

MVSeeds.comI added a new seed supplier and affiliate advertiser yesterday, GenericSeeds.com. I generally don't write much of anything about a new supplier or advertiser until I've had an opportunity to try them myself or hear about their service. Even though they're a clean slate at Dave's Garden (no positives or negatives), I had good service last year from their parent company, WheatgrassKits.com.

I placed a trial order and found that, like most seed vendors, they had good prices on some things and not-so-good values elsewhere. I'd suggest closely watching the quantity of seed in each packet when ordering. The selection of varieties was also somewhat limited, but then, they're just starting out. Possibly a big attraction for many of us is their free shipping on orders over $20 and $2 shipping on orders less then $20!

I'll let you know how this one turns out. (Note: Generic Seeds was sold to or became Mountain Valley Seeds.)

February 6, 2010 - Disaster

We lost almost all of our new seedling geraniums this week! It was an easily preventable disaster caused mainly by damping off fungus and to a lesser extent, a heat mat failure.

When I transplanted our geranium seed from the paper towels they'd sprouted on, I quickly ran out of sterilized potting mix. Rather than wait several hours to bake some more soil mix, I grabbed a bucket that held some leftover mix that hadn't yet been baked.

The reason I'm usually so careful with our seed starting mix is that damping off fungus may be present in it. When seeds germinate, the fungus attacks the new plants right at the soil line. The stems thin and then die.

So, after making a really foolish choice, I'm now awaiting the delivery of a new heating mat. And other than the four potted geranium seedlings that survived, I'll be starting over again on geraniums this week.

On a more positive note, I'd placed an order last weekend for some trays, inserts, and pots from the Greenhouse Megastore. The order arrived promptly and in good shape. Their prices are considerably more reasonable for growing supplies than most seed vendors or garden shops.

February 27, 2010

I've really let both this site and my seed starting slide this year. I've been very busy with my other site, Educators' News, and with any number of other tasks. Fortunately, there's still plenty of time to get things started for this summer's garden.

One pleasant task has been filling orders from other Seed Savers Exchange members for Moira tomato seed and Japanese Long Pickling cucumber seed. Both are varieties that I really thought I'd lost. But two years ago, I got one seed (out of probably 25 left in a packet from 1994) of the JLP's to grow and saved seed from it. I grew out the saved seed last summer, and it proved to be true to variety, so I felt okay to offer it.

The Moiras also came from an old, long frozen, commercial seed packet from 1987! I probably planted over a hundred seeds from that packet and a packet of saved seed last year. Around ten seeds germinated and produced healthy tomato plants. Since I grew the Moiras in our East Garden, over a hundred yards from any other tomato variety, I felt safe in offering the seed without first growing it out myself to insure purity.

Moira plantMoiras cored for canningAccording to the Seeds of Diversity site, the Moira tomato variety was developed by Jack Metcalf at the Agriculture Canada Smithfield Experimental Farm, in Trenton, Ottawa. It was released in 1972 as part of a series of tomatoes developed there that included Trent (1967), Trimson (1972), Moira (1972), Quinte (1975), Earlirouge (1977), Earlibright (1980), Bellestar (1981), and Smithbright (1993). Although Moiras never gained the fame of the Earlirouge variety, they are my favorite variety for canning whole and are also an excellent slicing tomato. Their biggest claim to fame is their deep red interiors, but the taste is great as well.

Moiras are determinate tomatoes, but as you can see at right, I grow them in cages. The fruit is less susceptible to disease and rot in the cages, and of course, stays a bit cleaner. Surprisingly, the plants will pretty well fill a 5' tall tomato cage.

Japanese Long Pickling cucumberAs to the Japanese Long Pickling variety of cucumbers, all I can say is that it's a pity we don't eat more bread and butter pickles, as we only need to put them up about once every three years from the excellent variety. They're heavy producers, and the fruit is acceptable as a slicing cucumber. Other than linking to our feature story, A Cucumber of Distinction, I'll just leave it at that.

Along with filling orders, I was also happy to receive a prompt shipment of the Earliest Red Sweet variety of sweet bell pepper seed from a SSE member. I did lose my start on that variety, as I just let my saved seed get too old. I picked up a packet of ERS seed last winter from Seeds Trust, but the seed germinated poorly. Then when the plant, isolated in the East Garden, produced fruit, it was yellow. I either mixed up my transplants (or seeds), or the Trust had a problem. And since they're not offering the variety this year, I was thrilled to see two members of the Seed Savers Exchange still preserving and sharing the variety.

Membership in the Seed Savers Exchange now runs $40/year, up from $35/year last year. Members receive a 10% discount on seeds offered by the exchange and access to the annual yearbook that carries over 13,000 heirloom and other varieties preserved and offered by over 700 "listed members."

So as February winds down, I think we're finally ready to get started with our transplants for the garden this year. Our supplies are all in, and I think I've gotten our heat mat problems solved. I even had to change a fluorescent tube this morning over our young onion plants started last month. The onion plants appear to be ready for their first "haircut."

Onion plants

GloxiniasGloxinia bloomAnd while most of our gloxinias are in or headed towards dormancy, a couple of them are still making quite a show under our plantlights. I still need to take some leaf cuttings for our Gloxinias feature story.

And on a sorta sad note, frequent visitors to this site will notice that most of the photos now carry a copyright notice. While all photos on this site are copyrighted on the page, I found that some folks had appropriated a number of our older shots for use on their web sites without permission. So when I remember, each photo posted gets a copyright notice in the lower left to suggest that folks ask. I'm really a pretty soft touch on that one, frequently allowing teachers and others to use my photos for non-profit use. But all other use does require prior permission, massive royalty payments, your left pinkie finger... You get the idea.

It reminds me of an incident years ago when we were doing wedding photography, I had a very angry mother of the bride arrive at my doorstep. She was angry because when she had all the proofs copied, each was ruined by our photo company name and copyright notice that had been embossed in the center of each picture!

Unlike the east coast, we're finishing the month with just remnants of snow on the ground. The diminishing snow cover gives us just a hint that spring is on the way.

Feb. 27, 2010


January, 2010

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