A winter-sowing experiment

Two days of sunshine and temperatures that hit 50! And on a weekend! Yes, more snow is possible tonight and later in the week, but for now, after this brutal winter, I am thinking spring and the garden.

Not that I can really see much green. The snow, while melting, is still deep, the raised beds are covered and the crocuses are nowhere to be seen. The river behind us? Sprawling from all the runoff.

flooded Millstone

So naturally I planted seeds. Seeds that desperately needed to be used and which I had forgotten to plant in years past. I took some plastic containers that once contained candied ginger, dried cranberries and greens (not all together!) that I had been stockpiling for too long with the intent of turning them into mini-greenhouses. Following the instructions here, I slashed drainage holes, filled with soil, watered deeply, added seeds, slashed air vents … and left them in the snow on top of a raised bed. The idea is that the seeds will germinate as the cold ends and the plants know it’s safe to come up. It will then be up to me to water them as needed and open their air vents more and more.

winter seed sowing

One container is full of Texas hummingbird sage, which promises lovely red flowers and hopefully a stream of hummingbirds. Another is borage, and then there’s mullein and tall fernleaf fiddleneck. The last has half a packet of butterfly weed, whose orange flowers appeal to me as well as to butterflies. I’ll aim to to spread the rest in April, when light frosts are still possible, because the packet says it develops a long taproot and therefore doesn’t transplant well. Just to hedge my bets.

And with that, five of our many seed packets are used up.

One of this year’s goals is to use more of what we have. So no blue indigo tomatoes until next year.

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Thousands of seeds

Our seed stockpile keeps growing!

This is what borage looks like

This time it’s courtesy of my sister-in-law, who gave us 16 packs from Seeds of Change (yes, the White House’s choice) of things we wouldn’t have  bought, and I mean this in the nicest possible way. She came up with two groups: Asian greens and plants that attracts beneficial insects. So we now have seeds for Texas hummingbird sage (red!), medicinal borage (cool-looking!), butterfly weed (orange!) and tall fernleaf fiddlenecks (great name!). The greens include white icicle heirloom radishes, komatsuna (brassica rapa, in Latin, and not something I know from my local Asian store) and edible chrysanthemums (a  zesty, edible green for an unusual addition to salads, canned goods, or freshly prepared vegetable dishes, according to Seeds of Change.)

The Brit has ruled out a sixth raised bed. That mean We’re (I’m) going to have become more efficient with our space.

Coming next: our seed inventory. Want to take part in our seed exchange?