FIVE REASONS TO GROW YOUR OWN VEGETABLE AND FLOWER SEEDLINGS

FIVE REASONS TO GROW YOUR OWN VEGETABLE AND FLOWER SEEDLINGS

I have been growing my own vegetable seedlings for over three decades.  One of the first things I do every morning this time of year is to water and pamper the nearly four hundred ( yes, 400)  vegetable and flower seedlings that will be transplanted to the various gardens on our property over the Memorial Day weekend.

Lately, I’ve been asking myself “Why are you still doing this?”  After some reflection, I have come up with the following reasons and have  decided to share them with you:

PEPPER SEEDLINGS RECENTLY TRANSPLANTED TO 4 PACKS

  1.  VARIETY.  There are so many choices available for nearly every vegetable you can name, especially for tomatoes, peppers, squash, lettuce, cabbage, kale, and beans.  Garden centers tend to carry only the most popular varieties.  Starting your own seeds allows you to pick the varieties that appeal most to you.  Some of my absolute favorites are “Tender Sweet” cabbage, “Rose” heirloom tomatoes, “Matt’s Wild Cherry” tomatoes, and “Little Gem” romaine lettuce.  These are all varieties not generally found at garden centers

    CELERY SEEDLINGS ALMOST READY FOR TRANSPLANT

  2. GETTING A JUMP ON THE SEASON.  Starting seeds indoors in March for mid-April transplanting outdoors has been one of my strategies for nearly twenty years.  Leaf crops like kale, broccoli, cabbage and lettuce are particularly suitable for this approach.  I also start “Glacier Extra Early” tomato seeds at the same time so that I can get them in the ground by May 1.  Sometimes, the weather cooperates and tomatoes are reading for Father’s Day.  Here in zone 6a, that’s called “miraculous”.

    SUNFLOWER SEEDLINGS

  3. COST.  For the cost of purchasing a six pack of skinny tomato seedlings that are severely pot bound, you can purchase a packet of seeds that will provide you with 30 seedlings.  A packet of tomato seeds last me three years.  The average packet of lettuce seeds contains hundreds of seeds; a huge bargain.  The same goes for flowers, herbs and just about anything else you would want to grow.

    MARIGOLD AND ZINNIA SEEDLINGS

  4. THE SENSE OF ACCOMPLISHMENT.  There is something quite satisfying about planting seeds, watching them grow, setting them out in the garden, growing them to maturity, harvesting and then enjoying their fresh goodness.  Beware, it’s very addictive.

    BASIL SEEDLINGS. HALF WILL BE GIVEN AWAY.

  5. SHARING.  Sometimes, I think of myself as the  “Johnny Appleseed” of vegetable gardening.  Over the last thirty years, I have given away hundreds of tomato, pepper and basil seedlings to family, friends, gardening buddies, work associates, and total strangers.  Sharing is one of my greatest pleasures.

 

I know that I am probably preaching to the choir, but I felt the need to put this out there.  Happy gardening.

All the best,

Greg Garnache

 

FIVE GREENS SALAD WITH RADISHES AND ASPARAGUS

FIVE GREENS SALAD WITH RADISHES AND ASPARAGUS

My favorite way of measuring the progress of the vegetable garden  this time of year is by making a salad for lunch every day and noting how many ingredients come directly from the garden.  Just a week ago, it was three.  Today, it is a total of eight.

Asparagus production is now in “full on” mode.  My small patch is pushing up 5 or 6 spears a day.  Yesterday morning, I picked a large bowl of greens that included “Red Kitten” spinach, a few leaves of Tuscan Kale, some Red Winter Kale, some “Black Seeded Simpson” lettuce and two small heads of “Little Gem” romaine.

FIVE GREENS HARVESTED FRESH FROM THE GARDEN

This morning, I added “French Breakfast” radishes and their tops to the mix.  Pure rock-n-roll!  This is why I garden.  Fresh, nutritious food, as fresh as it gets.  We have a saying here at Greg’s Garden Party;  “Nobody eats better than us.”

THE FIRST RADISHES OF THE SEASON

All the best,

Greg Garnache

 

STAYING POSITIVE DESPITE THE WINTER THAT WON’T GO AWAY

STAYING POSITIVE DESPITE THE WINTER THAT WON’T GO AWAY

We woke up this morning with yet another dusting of snow on the ground and the sky is showering even more snow down upon us as this post is being written  Spring is nearly a week old and still no break  in the action.

Adding to my frustration is the fact that various plants have started arriving at  my doorstep; 10 blueberry bushes, a box full of onion seedlings and a box full of seed potatoes.  However, I do find comfort and hope in the seedlings that I have growing under the lights.  Check out my lead photo for this blog.  It is certainly an attitude changer for me.

Also, check out the photo below;  the first “triple banger” of the season from my three chickens.  I’m so proud.

THE FIRST “TRIPLE BANGER” OF THE SEASON FROM THE CHICKEN COOP. YOU GO GIRLS!

And while we’re at it, here is a shot of my “Glacier” Ultra Early tomato seedlings started, well, ultra early.  The plan is to get them in the ground at the end of April, protected (wall of water teepees) and placed in the garden where the vine crops will grow.  As soon as the main season tomatoes start producing, I will pull these plants to make room for the pumpkins and squash.  We have had tomatoes as early as June 14 in the past.

“GLACIER” ULTRA EARLY TOMATO SEEDLINGS GIVING HOPE OF SPRING WEATHER TO COME

There are advantages to starting your own seeds:  greater variety, early start, cost.  For me, the biggest advantage is the feeling that I get from watching them grow, especially when it’s still snowing outside.  Happy Spring everyone!

All the best,

Greg Garnache

To Do List – 3rd Weekend in March

To Do List – 3rd Weekend in March

START THE FOLLOWING SEEDS INDOORS:

1. LETTUCE, BLACK SEEDED SIMPSON (great early season leaf lettuce)

2.  ROMAINE LETTUCE, SPARX (recommended by Johnny’s for early season romaine hearts)

3.  BUTTERHEAD LETTUCE, NANCY (Early season variety)

4.  TASSEL FLOWER (An heirloom variety that was a favorite of Thomas Jefferson)

A SUMMER BOUQUET FEATURING ORANGE TASSEL FLOWER

ROASTED GARLIC PASTA SAUCE – We tried it, we like it

ROASTED GARLIC PASTA SAUCE – We tried it, we like it

Last Summer, one of our oldest and dearest friends, Christine Trombley, gave us a compilation of tomato recipes from Better Homes and Gardens.  We tried several of the fresh recipes and they were pretty good.

We also made a canning recipe called Roasted Garlic Pasta Sauce,  put it on the shelf with our home made pickles and jams and promptly forgot about it.  Catherine had to work on Saturday so it was on me to put dinner together.  I was craving pasta, but  wasn’t up for making sauce from scratch.  I remembered the sauce we canned last Summer, grabbed two 12oz jars, poured them into a sauce pan along with some outstanding Black Angus frozen meatballs and rose to hero status as a result.

OMG!!!.  Talk about “awesome sauce“. Catherine said that it was the best prepared pasta sauce she had ever tasted. Oh K  honey!  I have to say that it exceeded my expectations and then some.  Canning is time consuming, but this was worth it.  We are already planning to use more of our tomato harvest next season to make this sauce.  Click the link below to view the recipe for yourself.  It gets five forks from the Greg’s Garden Party Test Kitchen.

ROASTED GARLIC PASTA SAUCE

All the best,

Greg Garnache

 

A SURE SIGN THAT SPRING IS NOT FAR AWAY

A SURE SIGN THAT SPRING IS NOT FAR AWAY

THE GIRLS LOBBYING FOR A LITTLE “WALK AROUND TIME”.

Catherine and I still live in New England for a reason; we love the four seasons, some more than others.  The change from Winter to Spring is probably my favorite.  One of my favorite signs that Spring is almost here is when our chickens begin to lay eggs again after a long Winter.  The days in late February finally get long enough to trigger the egg laying gene.  The first eggs never fail to put a smile on my face.

All the best,

Greg Garnache

February 17, 2018 – My Gardening Year Starts Today

February 17, 2018 – My Gardening Year Starts Today

Hi everyone.  It has been a long time since my last post.  I started this blog soon after retiring from the work-a-day world back in 2014.  Back then, I had lots of time on my hands and a desire to “get after it”.

Well, guess what.  Life intervened, I went back to work part time, my elderly mother needed much more care and attention, and fifty other excuses got in the way.  I lost my mojo.  Not saying I have it back, but here I am feeling the need to reach out and let the world know that Greg’s Garden Party is still a thing.

Part of the reason I felt the need to blog is the fact that I planted some seeds today; the first of many seeds to come.  This happened as a result of a recent conversation with my wife regarding how much celery we consume in our diet.  That led to a question: “Why are we not growing our own.”  I had to fess up that my previous attempts were less than noteworthy.  With some trepidation I consulted all of our gardening guides for some wisdom on the subject of celery.  There was nothing inspiring.

I went on line, read a bunch of  blog posts, watched a bunch of videos.  There are a whole lot of sites with information about growing celery; most of it lame at best.  Finally, I found a charming, informative and inspiring video called ” Growing Celery from Seed.  It was created by a Chinese woman by the name of Regine and her husband Kent Norman.

Regine grew up in a small farming community in Southern China, where she developed her passion for gardening.  She earned a degree in Chemistry, met Kent, an industrial/product engineer and they decided to make a life together in Florida.  Today, they manage a small business specializing in selling seeds of hard to find Asian vegetables.

Their science/engineering background is evident in the content, presentation and production of their videos.  I highly recommend checking out the video and their site www.asiangarden2table.com .

After watching the video, I ordered seeds.  Not realizing at that time that I could actually order seeds from Asian Garden 2 Table, I went to my go to Supplier Johnny’s Selected Seeds and purchased a variety called “Tango“.

Taking Regine’s advise, I soaked the seeds for twelve hours, drained them into a paper towel lined strainer, folded the paper towel, put it in a baggie and placed it in the refrigerator for twenty four hours.  The next day, I opened the paper towel and let the seeds dry out enough to handle.  Beware, celery seeds are very small.  Thankfully, I had a tool for that.  It’s called a mini wand seeder.  I have used it in the past to handle tiny herb, flower and vegetable seeds.

MINI WAND SEEDER

I got mine five years ago from Johnny’s and put it to good use planting the celery seeds.  My plant stand is in an unheated room so I placed the seed tray on a heat mat to maintain a temperature of 75 degrees Fahrenheit.  Now, I just need to keep the seeds moist and be patient.  It could take up to thirty days for the seeds to emerge.  I will keep you posted.

Needless to say, I am excited about beginning a new gardening year and I wish you all great success in your gardening endeavors.  There’s more to come.  I promise.

All the best,

Greg Garnache

 

Celery Root Soup – We Tried it, We Like it!

Celery Root Soup – We Tried it, We Like it!

While trying to decide whether or not to grow celeriac last year,  I came across an interesting recipe for Celery root soup with pear, ginger and sage in the food pages of the Boston Globe.  It was presented by Globe correspondent, Sally Pasley Vargas.  We made one change, we substituted shallots for the leek.  Also, Catherine and I both agreed that the soup could use double the ginger listed.  Other than that, we followed the procedure to a “T”.

The pairing of celery root and pear is genius.  This is the kind of soup to make on a snowy day in mid-Winter.  Oh yes, the sage adds just the right herbal accent. Here is a link to the recipe:https://www.bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/food-dining/2016/01/19/recipe-for-celery-root-soup-with-pear-ginger-and-sage/01gafRdmZOf5Ecwx5IfOkK/story.html

Happy Eating.

All the best,

Greg Garnache