3-2-1 GERMINATION!!! Germination in North Natomas!!!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Well -- isn't this just a fine "how do ya do?"

In fact -- it's just downright embarassin! A crime against MANkind. It shouldn't be allowed! Personal Foul! Flagged for excessive celebration!

It's the wife that is Venus who is celebrating tonight. And chortling just a bit too much I might add.

What is causing so much mirth in the Bird household? Our seed starting efforts -- of course. It's always a race between us. Who will do better? Bill Bird the Big Mouth Blogger Extraordinaire? Venus "Magic Green Thumb" Stromberg?

If you're guessing Bill Bird -- "No Soup for You!" The wife isn't only beating the pants off me when it comes to heirloom tomato, pepper and eggplant seed germination efforts -- as the photo to the right shows -- she's sort of SKUNKED me.

Yep -- just five short days after planting our 2010 heirloom tomato, pepper and eggplant garden -- every single seedling tray that she planted has busted out in NBC style "Peacock" color. I've never seen anyone get so darn lucky. I mean -- usually -- there's one failure somewhere -- right?

Oh -- not with the wife there isn't. She's just got that magic touch. As for me? The Blogger? Hey -- I've got some decent germination going here! But there are those -- ahem -- *few* seedling trays that haven't quite broken ground yet.

Actually -- to be brutally honest -- we're off to the most amazing start this year. And it's a late start at that. Normally? We plant the weekend after the Super Bowl -- which is usually early February. But the Super Bowl came a tad later than normal -- and we didn't get around to setting our first seeds until the following weekend -- February 15th.

That was a Monday. Here it is -- a Saturday. It's six days later. And everything the wife has planted (tomato and eggplant wise) has come up roses. The pepper seeds the wife planted haven't come up yet -- but that's just peppers. They're sort of like wallflowers at first. They take a while to get going -- and maybe a jolt of Jack Daniels.

So what's the deal? Are we doing anything different this year from last year? As a matter of fact, that answer would be YES.

With previous seed starting efforts -- the wife and I have always relied upon those handy, dandy, reliable, Jiffy Brand seed starting trays. You know the ones that come with those compressed pellets of peat moss? You put some warm water on them and they suddenly look like an egg pod straight out of Alien? Yeah, those are the ones.

But last year -- to be honest -- we didn't have the best germination efforts with the two trays that we purchased. Sure enough -- every variety did eventually come up -- but I threw away far too many pods that were planted with seed that produced nothing. I normally haven't had this kind of germination trouble with the Jiffy trays. Usually -- they're reliable. But last year?

Well -- let's just say I wasn't happy and I was ready for a change.

Now -- we're not quite ready to start brewing our own seed starting mix just yet. I do have that recipe thanks to Farmer Fred Hoffman -- and he's got pretty good detail with his seed starting efforts here. But I knew I wasn't going to use the Jiffy peat moss pods again -- and I had already purchased three seedling trays from Capitol Nursery earlier this year.

What I needed was a good seed starting medium. And I found it at Lockhart Seed in Stockton. This stuff is called "Black Gold" and it is -- as advertised -- some of the softest and nicest seed starting mixes I've ever come across. It truly is "Black Gold." I have the seed starts to prove it.

Well -- if you want to get technical -- Venus has the starts to prove it.

So -- last Monday afternoon I dragged out the seed trays. Venus dragged out the tomato, pepper and eggplant seed. We both filled up trays full of Black Gold -- watered and compressed it down a bit with some lukewarm water -- and set about planting in the garage. One hour later? The deed was done.

Now -- just when you think you know everything there is to know about seed starting efforts -- a fickle thing called fate comes in and just slaps you silly. I had our PVC seed starting contraption all set up and ready to go. The grow lights were installed. And I knew -- from experience -- that those lights needed to be right at soil level.

Not a problem -- right? Hey, I KNOW THIS STUFF man! I have BEEN there! I have DONE that!

Imagine my chagrin then when I tried to lower the lights near those trays and those nice white plastic markers got in the way.


If you're asking why those white markers are bent at crazy angles -- now you know why. They had been sitting straight up -- looking all pretty and nice. If you have also noticed the foil wrapped tightly around each seedling tray and might be wondering if this is one of our "tricks of the trade?"

Uh -- no -- it's because the idiot who blogs also purchased drain trays that have holes in them. I've got to catch that water runoff somehow -- right? So -- it was time for some Mickey Mouse ingenuity! Know what this means? It was my bright idea -- so it's bound to fail. Miserably.

The varieties planted are listed below in alphabetical order -- and we did plant two of each so -- yes -- there will be some "horse trading" taking part later this spring.

Abe Lincoln Original
Arkansas Traveler
Black Cherry
Black from Tula
Black Krim
Black Sea Man
Bloody Butcher
Brandymaster Pink
Campbells 1327
Cosmonaut Volkov
Evil Seed (Black Tomato)
German Orange Strawberry
Green Zebra
Gulf State Market
Jelly Bean(Cherry)
Kelloggs Breakfast
Lemon Boy
Lemon Drop
Mortgage Lifter
Old Brooks
Red Alert
Rutgers Select

Alma Paprika
Cayenne Blend
Golden Cal Wonder
Green Cal Wonder
Mucho Nacho
Nu Mex Surprise
Purple Beauty
Purple Jalapeno
Red Beauty

Black Beauty
Early Long Purple


Greg Damitz said...

Very nice. I screwed around and still haven't started any seedlings. Looks like purchased plants this year. Well maybe I'll just start late. I could order seed tomorrow and plant next weekend. Of course I've got some (many) lemons and banana squash if you're interested in a trade.



http://abebedorespgondufo.blogs.sapo.pt/ said...


Bill Bird said...

Did someone say LEMONS?

Fred Hoffman said...

Day 8 here, still waiting for tomato and pepper germination. That's OK, I'll give it two weeks before Plan B is put in effect (you still keep your side door on the garage unlocked, right?).
Oh, and Bill...could you at least move the darned music box to the top of the page so I can turn it off immediately. Or just turn it off yourself! Perhaps you heard "Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes" on KFBK yesterday...accidentally....

Joe the Farmer said...

The "jiffy" greenhouse effect with heating pad gave me sprouts in less than 2 days on some plants, and EVERYTHING was out of the dirt within 4 days... I got lucky this year!!!

SacVolleyball.com said...

I'm at about day 5 and I got two varieties of Tomatoes that just popped, but the rest are still idle. I just used a regular 'potting mix' so I hope I didn't sabotage too much. Jiffy green house, small heat pad shared between two big trays.

Bill Bird said...

DOH! I let the trays get a little too dry and some of my starts up and kicked the bucket. I'm so concerned about damping off -- that I'm underwatering! Oh well -- I'm glad I have replacements. I'm so GOOD at killing young tomato plants. I'm an expert! Just ask me!

Bill Bird said...

I just cannot understand why spammers would attack a blog site on Vegetable gardening. Leaving links to paid sex sites on blogs dedicated to modeling or something like that -- I can understand. But vegetable gardening? This confuses me...

notsocrafty.com said...

I'm kicking myself as I read your list because I meant to buy Alma paprika. I'm excited to how your do this year.