Garden Work

I came across a nice post at Johnny’s about January “garden” tasks.

Get the greenhouse ready. I don’t have a greenhouse, but the wonderful thought of working in the sun in the middle of the winter makes me wish for one: “The ideal way to spend a sunny day in winter? Go to the greenhouse and soak up some Vitamin D while you get organized for transplant production. Your goal is to inspect, clean, repair, and take inventory.” Rather than a greenhouse, I’m getting my plant lights and shelves ready in the sunniest window of my house.

Inventory your seeds. I’m also going through my old seeds before I order more. This is the number of years you can expect old seeds to stay viable:
* 1 year: onions, parsnips, parsley, salsify, and spinach;
* 2 years: corn, peas, beans, chives, okra, dandelion;
* 3 years: carrots, leeks, asparagus, turnips, rutabagas;
* 4 years: peppers, chard, pumpkins, squash, watermelons, basil, artichokes;
* 5 years: most brassicas, beets, tomatoes, eggplant, cucumbers, muskmelons, celery, celeriac, lettuce, endive, chicory.

As I go through the old packets, I’m putting together a variety list so I can start keeping track of what does well for me.

8 Comments. Leave new

  • Not sure about that list Kathy … why onions at 1 year but leeks at 3 when they are the same family. Same for parsnips and parsley at 1 but carrots at 3 (same family). I would say all umbelliferae are one year then pitch. But if I had a greenhouse I wouldn't care about anything except winter light and warmth.

    Happy New Year

    Got Snow?

  • Last year I planted onion seeds that were several years old. I worried they wouldn't sprout so I bought fresh ones and planted a few more trays. Well, all came up great and I had tons of onions. Then again I planted the same package of parsnip seeds for 3 years (never give up) and they never sprouted. A new pack the next year did great. Not sure if there's any point to this – except that these things are probably just approximations.

  • I don't know about the okra being viable for only two years… My mother passed on a 7-year old packet of 'North and South' hybrid okra seeds that she never bothered to plant about a year ago in favor of newer seeds that she had bought, and they grew just fine when I planted them this past summer (We were sick of okra before the season was over!).

  • I am also a big fan of green house though I also don't have it.I enjoy gardening in my friend's home garden.What I like about you post is inventory seeds,I think this very useful for all the garden lovers.
    Rose Smith
    Manual Push Lawn Mower

  • I have a greenhouse and it's sunny today, but it's much much too cold to spend time in there. It's 28F outside and the sun is not yet strong enough to warm up the greenhouse. So, it's seed inventory time in The Netherlands as well!

  • I have a bunch of old seeds. I grew my entire garden last summer with "old seeds." This year I think I'm tossing most of them (5-7 years old). It's just a bad feeling to sow them and expect them to fail.

    Thanks for the tip!

  • I am shopping for a new Seed Starter Kit and was wondering what recommendations you and your readers have for me? With so many out there I am not sure if they all do basically the same thing or if one is better than another for a particullar reason. THANKS!
    (BTW-Great Blog! I really appreciate how much work you put into it.)

  • A starter kit? They're all pretty good. It just depends on the size of plant cells you prefer, which is really a preference thing it seems to me. Small cells, you need to transplant sooner, big cells you can fit more seedlings per cell or you can wait longer to transplant.

    Kits have a bottom tray too. I make sure the bottom tray has no holes for use inside on the plant shelves. When you put the trays outside, its nice to switch to trays with holes so rain drains and doesn't swamp the seedlings.

    Kits usually have a clear plastic cover, which I never use.

    Sometimes kits have a heat mat, which I don't use since I have my shelves inside in a room that stays 65-70*F. Peppers need higher temp to germinate, so heat mat is nice for them.

    I think some kits have peat cells, which aren't my preference. I like the plastic plant cells with trays. I can usually get several years of use from these.

    I usually don't buy a kit, but buy the plant cells and trays separately. I usually shop for these at my local True Value hardware store.

    My first step in setting up trays for planting is to go out to the garage and bring in all the trays and seed cells I have left over. I clean these with a rag to remove old soil then dip in dilute bleach (I'll have to look up the dilution), rinse and drain. Then I inure out if I need more. I usually don't buy the kits – it seems they cost more, probably because they include the cover that I don't use.

    I'll post more about trays soon.

    Here's a link to my old planting and seedling posts.


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