Thursday, January 26, 2012

Seed Starting Survey Results

Our January 2012 Washington Gardener Reader Contest winners chosen at random from among the submitted entries are:

~ Arlene Wagner, Reston, VA
~ CJ Rock, Hyattsville, MD

They each won two passes to the upcoming Washington Gardener Seed Exchanges (a $15 value per pass).

These seed swaps are in-person and face-to-face. You bring your extra seeds and swap them with other gardeners. Everyone will leave with a bag full of seeds, new garden friends, and expert planting advice. The Seed Exchanges are held on Saturday, January 28, 2012 in Maryland at Brookside Gardens and on Saturday, February 4, 2012 in Virginia at Green Spring Gardens from 12:30 – 4:00pm. See full event details here.

We asked our contest entrants to tell us:
What plants you are planning to start from seed this year?

“I will be starting several heirloom tomato varieties, broccoli, cucumbers, arugula, basil, beets, chard, and carrots from seed this year,” said Fred Pinkney of Takoma Park, MD.

“Tomatoes of course, and tomatillos, 5 kinds of basil, spaghetti, acorn, and some odd field cross squash, & melons. Big seeds for small hands. Artichoke if we get ambitious,” said Luc Phinney.

“I plan to start at least cilantro and thyme from seed this year, as well as (possibly) avocado (working on some pits currently!), tomatoes, and other plants,” said CJ (Chelsea) Rock of Hyattsville, MD.

Vernon Roberts of College Park, MD, is planning on starting white habanero chili peppers, cilantro, and tomatoes from seed this year, at the very least.

Arlene Wagner of Reston, VA, said, “This year I plan on starting from seed (and I already bought the seeds for them!): Broccoli, Cauliflower, Edame (soybeans), San Marzano tomatoes, Sugar snap peas, Herbs (like basil, chives, thyme, oregano), Hollyhocks, Japanese anemones, Corn, and Peppers (chocolate, yellow, red, orange, purple).

Cindy Walczak of Olney, MD, wrote: “I'm planning to start from seed: lettuce, radishes, snow peas, beets, malabar spinach, sweet peppers, butternut squash”

“I'm so excited for Spring!,” shared Nancy Davis of Edgewater, MD. “Sitting here writing this email with a dusting of snow on the ground, I'm anxiously awaiting to go outdoors and plant my seeds. I had never really grown anything from seed until last year. A friend and I were talking about gardening and I had said I wish there was more of a selection of plants to purchase at local garden centers. He suggested I buy seeds and grow the things I wanted to grow from seeds myself! For some reason this had not occurred to me. Sometimes the most obvious answers are not so obvious to the person trying to figure things out. I like to grow herbs, vegetables and flowers. Below is a list of what I'm growing from seed this year in all three categories:
~ Vegetables
Shell Peas, Bush Beans, Cucumbers, Squash, Cherry Tomatoes, Lettuce, Spinach, Onions, Broccoli
Carrots,Zucchini, Cauliflower
~ Herbs
Dill, Evening Primrose, Nettles, Burdock, Valerian, Wood Betony, Chamomile, Sage, Yarrow,
~ Flowers
Nasturtiums, Zinnias, Sunflowers, Daisy”

Joe Schechter of Silver Spring, MD, plans starting these seeds for this spring: Lablab beans; purple pyramid peppers; asclepius tuberosa; black seeded Simpson lettuce; beets for greens and root; marigolds from saved seed. “Probably a lot of others that I've saved and exchanged at last year's seed exchange.”

Kenneth Moore of Washington, DC, said, “I plan on starting a couple things from seed--edibles such as tomatoes and peppers, of course, as well as lots of herbs (a ton of basils, in particular). I don't have a large seed collection anymore, since donating my entire collection to the Farm at Walker Jones when I moved to Saudi Arabia--I've only purchased a few (maybe 20 or so) seed packets since I returned to the U.S. I also am uncertain whether I'll have allotted outdoor space--I mean, I'll find my own *somewhere*, but it would make me much happier to know I could plant a sweet potato somewhere that it won't get ripped up or mowed.”

Ruth H. Axelrod of Frederick, MD, replied:
“Although I’m an experienced ornamental gardener, until two years ago I had not raised food crops except herbs, an occasional tomato plant and a wide terra cotta bowl of salad greens. Partway through that summer, having settled into our new suburban townhouse in Frederick, we bought oak boards and posts, cut to our specifications at a local mill, and built a trio of small, raised beds. That year and the next, I filled the new garden with purchased seedlings from my favorite Washington-area nurseries. My reward was the thrill of preparing and eating salads made entirely from our tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and herbs, and supplementing store-bought lettuce with fresh romaine. But I have been disappointed at the limited variety of greens available as seedlings. So, now, I am ready for the next step--raising them from seed.
Last fall, I purchased a chrome rack that fits along the wall of our basement bathroom, hung a silver mylar emergency blanket behind it and a 4' shop light from each shelf. Last week, I bought two seedling trays to augment those that I scrounged from nurseries last year (and disinfected with 10:1 water and chlorine bleach).
Now, I am creating my schedule--planning when to start each type of seed that I have and looking around for any interesting ones that I haven’t acquired. Two years ago, when I started thinking about doing this, I attended the Washington Gardener magazine’s Seed Swap at Brookside Gardens, which is the source of some of my vegetable and flower seeds. I enjoyed that swap so much that I organized one for my fellow Frederick County Master Gardeners last year and, by popular acclaim, again this year. I am trying not to be too ambitious but I am planning a succession garden this year and, so, will hold some back some seeds to start later in the growing season and the fall.
Why am I doing this? We don’t save any serious money with our tiny garden of edibles and I certainly don’t need more things to do, but I relish the magic of tiny seeds potent with life and rejoice at bringing into the world such a basic necessity as food. It gives me yet another reason to indulge my love of partnering with nature and soothing my spirit by mucking around in the dirt!”

What are you starting from seed this year?

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