Working a ton lately, including a day shift tomorrow, so this is just a brief popping-my-head-in-to-say-hello post. I wanted to share a couple pics of the first seedlings I'm starting for this year's garden. I built a small "grow op" in the cellar with a seed tray heat mat, a fluorescent fixture with full spectrum (2800K) bulbs, and Mylar sheeting to reflect the light as evenly as possible. First up are the peas - crowder peas & butterpeas, to be specific.
The butterpeas are in the background and crowder peas in front. These are both very southern crops, and lifelong favorites of mine. I tried growing both by direct sowing them last year, since our southern exposure and proximity to the ocean puts us firmly in USDA Zone 6, with the front of the house even being functionally a Zone 7 microclimate. They did okay, even with all the rain, but they just never had time to produce adequately, so I'm hoping starting them indoors & early will make a big difference. So far so good.
Next up are my brandywine tomatoes, which are just sprouting.
You may recall that I lost all my tomatoes last year to late blight, thanks to the incessant rain. I'd grown brandywines the year before and am convinced it's the ultimate fresh tomato for flavor. Buying tomatoes from the supermarket is nothing short of an act of desperation for me, so having to pull up all my plants and throw them away last year was traumatic and sad. Hopefully we won't have a repeat this year, but by getting them started now, I'm hedging my bets that I can harvest at least some if this does turn out to be another blighted year.
In the same flat as the brandywines but not yet germinated are more artichokes. Since we have a bit much sustained cold for them to overwinter here, I'm starting new seeds, which I'm remembering are a bit slow to germinate. We should have enough chill yet to come that I can set them out in near-freezing weather to fool them into thinking they've gone through a winter, as they're biennials that don't set blooms (the chokes are actually flower buds) until their second year.
I was dismayed when the artichoke seed arrived to see that the variety had been patented, information that was not provided on the website, or I wouldn't have bought them. I am generally opposed to patenting plant varieties, since a) I see it as an affrontery to nature to try to patent a living organism based on its genetics, and b) the patent means that nobody can legally propagate or collect seeds from the plant without obtaining permission from (which generally means paying a licensing fee to) the patent holder, which I find repugnant. Of course, having seeds in hand, I decided I was better off making use of them and planted them despite my ethical objections.
Hopefully they won't taste bitter as a result.