It's looking more and more like Spring here in North Carolina! Daffodils and quince are already blooming and the buds of the blueberry bushes are beginning to swell. It won't be long until my days will be filled with quite a variety of tasks that are sure to inspire some "lessons learned" in the garden.
The other night, I sat down at my laptop searching many seed companies online catalogs looking for that special variety of veggie and herb that I will try in the garden this year. I would like to try them all, but space and time prevents that! I finally decided on the ones that I thought would be right for this season's offerings at our local farmer's market.
Last year, I planted four rows of gourds for crafting - martin, apple and small eggs-like gourds that make wonderful ornaments, birdhouses, and feeders. I have saved the seed from all of the martins and apples and have a bountiful supply of those seed, but I decided to venture out and try the long-handled dipper gourds as well as try my hand, once again, with the loofah or dishrag gourd. I also found some interesting gourds from other countries offered through an heirloom seed company. This seed company is quickly becoming my favorite! The varieties offered are very unique and colorful!
Growing culinary herbs have been a passion of mine for several years. I started off with a small package of sage seed and the rest is history! Having taken a horticulture class in high school, I learned how to sow, transplant, and grow vegetables, herbs and flowers. It was my favorite class! Our teacher picked four students from the class to "manage" the greenhouse operation during the days it was open for the community to purchase plants for their home garden. I was one of the four! I was thrilled to be out of "regular" classes, but it was also a thrill to interact with the public and answer questions about the plants we offered.
I ran into my agriculture teacher several years after I graduated and he told me that he had never had a student that showed as much interest and had really promoted the plant sales as much as I did! That compliment really made me feel good after so many years! He was really that one teacher that inspired me to go into the horticultural field as a career! Thanks Mr. G!
Back to my garden seed purchases - I found a couple of varieties of cilantro that are said to be slow to bolt - a problem that I always have. I usually sow cilantro seed directly into peat pots because I find it does not transplant as well as some herbs. Parsley and dill are others that I direct-sow. I am trying to "Go Green" by using the peat pots that are biodegradable and can be planted directly in the soil. I used them last year and was well pleased with the results.
Oregano, thyme, rosemary and a few others are easily rooted so I will propagate these myself for a quicker maturity rate. I have tried seed, but their growth rate is a little slower than I like in order for a saleable plant by the first part of April. I am able to heat my greenhouse, but I don't like to because I don't want the plant to be "tender" and die from a "cold" night that we sometimes have in early spring. Heated greenhouses make for faster growth, but in my opinion, not necessarily better growth. Basil will have to wait a few weeks, as it is particularly sensitive to cold weather. I have had LUSH green basil one day and DEAD black basil the next! A very awful sight!
Blueberry cuttings are going into the propagation bed when the one-year old plants are removed to a nursery patch. The buds of the bushes are already swelling, preparing for the fruits to come in mid-May. I have so much to do before I even think of blueberries! Speaking of blueberries, Mr. Plant Lady said he saw (and tried) some blueberries in Sam's Club a few days ago. He said they were good and were grown in Chile. For some reason, I can't imagine eating blueberries from Chile. When I think of blueberries, I think of North Carolina, New Jersey, Michigan, Florida and South Carolina as well as a few West Coast states that are into blueberry production. Oh well, I'm for buying American, I guess!
I am eagerly awaiting my shipment of seed! I'll be watching for the mailman and waiting!