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After much deliberation, I finalized my garden plan for this year. I used the map I created using Google Maps (see how to do this yourself here), organized my seed collection, and purchased the new seeds I need.
I’ll be growing many of my old favorites, like Di Ciccio broccoli, Borlotti beans, Gold Medal tomatoes, and Italian Basil, but I’m also adding some new varieties to the mix.
Cosmonaut Volkov: Besides the cool name, it has won a taste contest. And, Russian varieties of tomatoes are often touted as perfect for foggier neighborhood. My garden isn’t in the fog belt, but some summers are colder than others, so I wanted to give it a try.
Cuore di Bue: The images look amazing for this variety: huge, red, multi-lobed (“Oxheart”), and with few seeds. Perfect for sauce and canning.
Red and Chocolate Miniature: Since peppers don’t do great here every year, I looked for short-season peppers, and these seem perfect. I plan to grow them in black containers to help them heat up during the daytime heat, so they’ll be less sad about the evening wind and cold we get here in Brisbane.
Mexican Strain: Like peppers, these will want more heat, so I’ll be trying them in pots as well, and, hopefully, get some tasty green salsa out of the experiment!
Snow Crown F1: This is a different variety than I’ve grown before, and it claims to stay ripe for a few days before flowering. I like that extra leeway, since I don’t always manage to visit my garden daily. There’s nothing sadder than a vegetable you’ve cared for and watched going overripe before you can even enjoy it.
Apple: This one may be an exercise in futility, since gourds need long growing seasons and lots of heat and sun (much like melons). I just really want to grow these, so I am willing to take the risk. If we have one of those intense summers here, I could get lucky, and, if not, I’ll come up with another longshot for next year.
Note: All these seeds (except the Apple Gourd) I’m trying this year are from the Territorial Seed Company. This is my first year buying from them, so I’ll be sure to review the results at harvest time! The Apple Gourd seeds are from Seed Savers Exchange.
I’m starting many of my seedlings indoors, and indeed, in my home office. I used to have my seeds start in our dirt-floor basement, but after having some pesky rats gnaw my seedlings down to nubs, I don’t feel safe leaving my babies down there.
The Seed Tray
I’m using this “Speedling” Tray from Peaceful Valley that shapes the seedlings into upside-down pyramids as they develop. This supposedly makes them easier to transplant, and, if nothing else, means using less seed starting mix and ease when getting the seedlings out of the tray. They come in many different sizes, but for these seedlings, I’m using the 72-Cell version.
This kind of tray would be impossible to label, given I have ten different varieties of plant seeds in there. To keep track of the plants in my tray, I am using a tiny portion of my garden map’s grid to make a map of the whole things and identify where each variety is located.
I do have a few large yogurt containers under my lights for the gourds, since they will need more root space than the little tray cells can provide.
I’ve used fluorescent lights in the past, and with the variety available, and warmth, they can be great for seed starting–but that warmth has also scared me. Fluorescent lights can burn plants and, in my worst nightmares, start fires.
For all those reasons, I really like these LED Shop Lights I got at Costco. They also use less energy and I haven’t replaced a single bulb in 4 years (whereas I have a whole pile of burnt-out fluorescents to be disposed of from my use of those). I haven’t noticed a lick of difference in my seedlings when using LEDs vs. fluorescents, and while there may be a difference if I grew them under both kinds of lights side-by-side, for my purposes–getting plants ready to be planted outside–it just doesn’t matter. Happy plants are happy plants.
I hope your garden plan is well underway as well! If you aren’t sure what to try to grow here in the San Francisco Bay Area, be sure to check out 5 Plants to Get the Most Gardening Bang for your Buck and my Bay Area Planting Calendar.