Planning the 2022 Garden

I’m starting to plan next year’s garden! How exciting!! I love the planning process almost as much as the planting and harvesting parts of gardening. I’m still working out the infrastructure of the garden, and I don’t even know if I’ll stay in this garden space for another full year, so I’m still keeping my plans pretty modest.

My disorganized seed stash
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Starting Chervil Indoors

I have one more recipe left in my Veganomicon cookbook – I’ve made every other recipe (that’s over 250 recipes). The last recipe is a Porcini Wild Rice Soup, and it calls for chervil. I grew chervil this summer, but it’s a cool weather crop and it bolted pretty quickly, so I didn’t even get to try any. (I did save its seeds, though, so it wasn’t a total loss).

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Just Plant Everything

The indoor seed sowing has been going very slowly, and I don’t have enough room under my grow light for much more, so I’ve decided to just start direct sowing seeds in the ground.

On Sunday, I planted carrots, beets, onions, cucumber, zucchini, and…

…tomatoes!

I’ve never direct-sown tomato seeds, and I don’t know that anyone would recommend this strategy. But: I wanted to try it anyway. Some of the seeds I sowed were actually collected from volunteer tomatoes, which, in essence, are direct-sown tomatoes, right? Plus, people have been growing tomatoes long before grow lights and special potting soil existed. I just have to keep the rats away to give the seeds a chance to sprout.

Seed Updates: Onions and Chervil

I saw my first onion sprout! One of the six Evergreen White Bunching Onions came up last Sunday…day 11 since planting.

Still no sight of the Walla Wallas. I think I’ll wait until this weekend and then re-plant more seeds. These are older seeds, so I was expecting a lower germination rate, and I only put 4 seeds in that pot.

The chervil seeds are still growing (slowly), but the stem and cotyledons are turning brown. Is this normal?

Merry Christmas Eve! Time to Start the Onions…

I know I said I would start the onion seeds in early January, but I just couldn’t wait! The chervil and parsley have done so well, that I’m eager to start more seeds. When I wake up in the morning and see a new sprout poking its head out of the soil, it’s like Christmas morning!

I’m growing Evergreen White Bunching onions and I’m trying my luck with Walla Wallas. Both of these seed packets are old so I expect a much lower germination rate. For this reason, I’m going to sow six seeds of the Evergreen White Bunching in one pot and four Walla Walla seeds in another pot. I know these numbers seem ridiculously low (I’m limiting myself four onions this year), but I don’t have much grow light room to work with, so I’m trying to grow what I can with one pot per crop. If all goes well, I can try succession planting as I move things out into the garden and make room in my grow light set up.

The Walla Walla onion seed packet says to plant them 1/2″ deep, and if starting seeds indoors, aim to plant seeds 8-12 weeks before moving them outside. At this rate, I’ll have onions planted in the ground in mid-February.

The Evergreen White Bunching says to plant them 1/4″ deep. Evergreen White Bunching onions are a green onion, which I hope will be particularly amenable to succession planting. If they germinate, I might try starting a new crop every 2-4 weeks indoors.

All planted!

I don’t want a lot for Christmas
There is just one thing I need
I don’t care about the presents
Underneath the Christmas tree

I just want you for onions of my own
More than you could ever know grow
Make my wish come true
All I want for Christmas is you onions

It doesn’t rhyme. Who cares? Merry Christmas!

My Planting Schedule: Spring 2021

I wrote about what I’m planning to grow next year. I already started the parsley and chervil to test out my seed-starting set up.

Since that is working, I’m now going to figure out when should I start the other seeds.

I got the California Master Gardener Handbook out of the local library. Here is what it says for each of the plants I’m planning to grow (these are “recommended planting dates” for the “North and North Coast region”):

  • Tomatoes – May
  • Cucumbers – April to June
  • Peas: Jan – April
  • Beans: May-June
  • Carrots: Jan – May and June-Aug
  • Beets: Feb – Aug
  • Summer squash: May – June
  • Winter squash: May
  • Onions (green) – April-Jul
  • Onions (bulb) – Jan-March

The month of May seems really late to be staring tomato seeds in zone 9b, doesn’t it? In the “Tomato” section of the book, they say to start seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before your last frost date. Our last frost date is February 22….6-8 weeks before that is Dec 28 – Jan 11. So, am I supposed to start the seed at the beginning of January and then wait 5 months before planting them out in the garden in May? That doesn’t seem right.

I’m going to use my “gardening intuition” (ha) and pick planting dates that seem reasonable to me. I’ll learn what works and what doesn’t and I’ll adjust accordingly in years to come.


JANUARY
  • Early January: start onions (both bulb and green onions) indoors
  • Mid January: start echinacea indoors
  • Late January: start sweet peas indoors and direct sow peas (snow peas/snap peas) outdoors
FEBRUARY
  • Early/mid February: start tomatoes, cucumber, basil and zinnia seeds indoors
  • Late February: start winter and summer squash indoors; direct sow carrots and beets outside
MARCH
  • Early March: direct sow cilantro, marigolds, and pole beans

I know some gardeners will look at this list and scoff, but I’m sticking with it. I think having an imperfect planting schedule, is better than no planting schedule, because without a planting schedule I might not get seeds in the ground at all.

If you’re curious, here’s some of my logic for my planting schedule:

  1. I’ll use our “last frost date” of February 22nd for my timing
  2. Aim to plant tomatoes in late March once soil has warmed up a bit? So start 8ish weeks prior… = early February
  3. Cucumbers, basil and zinnia seem like they’d like the conditions that tomatoes like, so I’ll use the same planting schedule for them
  4. Peas should be direct sown and tolerate the cold, so late January is ok, I guess?
  5. Beans also should be direct sown, but do not like cold soil (they will rot before they germinate if the soil is too cold), so wait until the soil is warmer to direct sow them (early March?)
  6. Carrots and beets should be direct sown, and they reasonably cold tolerant, I think?
  7. Some say summer and winter squash should be direct sown; others say you can start indoors to get a head start. I started seeds in pots and transplanted them last season, and that seemed to work well. I’ll start the seeds indoors, but transplant them outside after only 3-4 weeks. I want to plant them outside in mid-March (after our last frost), so start the seeds inside in late February
  8. Cilantro is cold tolerant, but should be direct sown after last frost?
  9. Onions should be started sooner rather than later. I want to start onions inside and let them put on quite a bit of growth before transplanting. This might be the wrong way to do, but I’m gonna do it this way anyway.

Exciting Update on the Parsley and Chervil Seeds!

Today (Thursday, Dec 17) will be 12 days since I planted these seeds. The seed packets say it can take 10-28 days for the parsley and 10-14 days for the chervil to germinate.

On Tuesday morning (day 10), I woke up to this in the chervil pot:

Do you see that little sprout?! I’m so excited!

I was worried about my new makeshift seed starting set up. I worried the light might not be strong enough or close enough to the soil or that I was over- or underwatering the seeds. I need not have worried.

Last night, the chervil seedling looked like this:

Growing strong!

Also, I checked the parsley pot last night, and there were not one but two sprouts poking their heads up. Here’s a photo of one. Can you see it?

I put two chervil seeds in the chervil pot and three parsley seeds in the parsley pot. They’re germinating right on schedule. I’m very happy with how this is going!

My Seed Starting Setup

I’m about to start my first seeds for the spring! I have limited space and don’t want invest a lot in a set up that will be difficult to move when I leave California in a year and a half. So, here’s what I came up with:

I decided to use this tutorial to make pots out of newspaper. I used two different jars to make pots of two different sizes – small pots and large pots.

Here are the finished pots:

I made 15 small pots and 5 large pots.

I’m a little worried about the structural integrity of these pots, especially when they’re holding wet soil. I’ll be sure to report back on my results.

Here’s the seed starting soil I’m using:

It has peat moss in it, which isn’t great, but it was the only seed starting soil in the entire store.

As for light and heat, my room is the warmest room in the house, so I decided to set up a growing station on my dresser. I have a grow light (Thank you Nate!), which I hooked to my curtain rod. The light is plugged in to a timer, so it will automatically come on in the morning and turn off at night. I then had to bring the seed pots up to the level of the grow light, so I put my boards review books to good use!

The pots are sitting in a recycled lettuce bin to catch the water.

What do you think? I’m pretty pleased with my resourceful-ness.