One reason to order and plant seeds, instead of buying seedlings, is the pleasure of having more than you need and giving them away. You get to nurture community as well as a garden.
Two years ago, I went a little crazy while planting tomato seeds. I ended up with 72 seedlings, and gave away 30 of them to friends. This year I was more modest, but still have some Honeydrop cherry tomato seedlings and a few Bobcats that are looking for homes. I have more Black King eggplant seedlings than will fit in our backyard garden, and some extra Purple Beauty and Czech Black peppers. First come, first served.
These seedlings are not ready to put in the garden, even though the heat wave of the past few weeks has warmed up the soil. They are still small and need another week or two to mature, and there’s still a risk of frost. Anyone who thinks that summer has already started and has put tender plants in the ground may be very disappointed on Thursday morning. Forewarned is forearmed. Cover those tender plants!
I’m still a beginner at growing potatoes, but want to get better at it because organic spuds are expensive. I visited architect/farmer Bill Gillen, who I heard had good seed potatoes, and he gave me over 100 that were left over after he planted his fields. I planted 29 of them in dirt and compost inside four wire cages and four cardboard boxes (photo at right). Then I put three more in a metal tub in which I had put carrot seeds that didn’t germinate. I gave away 20 to a friend.
I still have 55 seed potatoes (left), and plan to create a new crib today near the spot where green beans will be planted (the two are said to be complementary). They’re a little shriveled up from the hot and dry weather, but anyone who’d like to give potatoes a try can contact me. They want to get in the ground soon.
Betsy is continuing to plant her edible forest garden. Yesterday she planted a persimmon tree (shown in photo )that was bred in New Hampshire and so is tolerant of a northern climate. It’s naturally resistant to juglone, a chemical exuded by two black walnut trees on a neighbor’s property, which would inhibit the growth of many fruit trees.
She also planted two paw paw trees and two blueberry bushes in our wet side yard, as part of her permaculture plan. She had previously planted two of each. If all goes well, we’ll have a variety of fruit to eat in about five years!
Betsy has also cleared out an area north of our fenced garden, a damp area in normal times, and planted two elderberries (which produce edible fruit) and winterberries (whose fruit is good for holiday decorations). She’ll be putting in some horseradish and marsh mallow in that spot today.
Next up: planting celery, celeriac and butternut squash. May is one of the busiest months for gardeners!