Sort and Categorize Seeds
"The best gardener is the one who does the most gardening by the winter fire."~ Liberty Hyde Bailey, Father of Modern Horticulture
So it has come...January! In some ways, I have already made a plan for this month, but now that I study the planting and planning suggestions in the calendar, I realize I will make my own adjustments for January; and so it goes--Kaizen--the cycle of continuous improvement. I invite all of my readers to add your comments below about the ways in which you have adapted the calendar to your cycle of planting and style of gardening. It will only help me make next year's calendar that much better!
This week, as recommended in the calendar, I sorted my seeds. This annual practice supports me in not overdoing it on seed purchasing which can get out of hand when you love the miracle of growing enormous plants from tiny specks of what could be mistaken for dust (I mean really, it blows my mind every year). I made myself some sorting labels from scrap paper and categorized the seeds I've saved/purchased from my previous gardening seasons:
- Indoor Herb Garden
- Indoor Starts
- Grow Wall/Microgreens
- Direct Sow in Garden
- Seeds to Stratify
- Long Expired/Donate
These categories deviate somewhat from those in the calendar as I do not yet have a cold frame set up in our new garden and I realized that I should pull the perennials seeds I hope to stratify this winter in preparation for spring planting. I substituted the cold frame category for a grow wall/microgreens category as I do plan to have some of these going this winter.
Most of the seeds in my collection are from Colorado seed vendors: Botanical Interests, Lake Valley Seeds, and Seeds Trust. Like most folks who love seed catalogs, I cannot resist the inspiring photography on the Baker Creek website, so I buy a few packets every year. I try to order most seeds locally as this means they are adapted to my climate and it supports local growers. Seeds Trust is a hyper-local, female-owned seed vendor from western Colorado, so for the past few years I have gone to them first, and then purchased what they don't have from Botanical Interests which in my opinion has some of the most beautiful botanical illustrations on their packaging. Many of the packets pictured below have a star stamp on them meaning I purchased them in the fall from my local garden center when they were on sale for 50% off.
The Indoor Herb Garden
I have on hand all the seeds I could ever hope to grow in the indoor winter herb garden. In my window sills, I have mature dill, basil, flat-leaf parsley, and chives that we have been using to cook with over the holidays. I have two thyme plants just peeking out in the AeroGarden and plan to get some cilantro and chervil going next. If these herbs are still growing strong in the spring, I will transplant them to the garden after the last frost.
Next week, I hope to start drawing out a plan for the north and south garden beds closest to the house and the deck garden as these will be my grow spaces next season. I have much more room in the back yard, but these areas will take deeper consideration as I will need to "terraform" them somewhat to support decreased water usage and deer protection that still allows the deer to hang out, which they are prone to do. I don't anticipate planting these areas until late summer or even the 2023 season.
By taking pictures of what I have, I now have a reference of what is on hand without having to dig the seed bins out of their cool dark storage. Once I have a plan for the space available to me, I can use these pictures to make decisions about whether to purchase new seeds for my indoor starts. Mid-January is a good time to purchase any new seeds so they arrive before February planting.
These plants I will get going indoors in February. I like to give tomatoes and peppers a head start so that I have some pretty big plants to get in the ground come mid-may.
These are the plants I will start in April so they have a little head start going into the summer. I will also direct sow some squash, melons and cucumbers after the last frost.
The grow wall my sister gifted me is in the garage and it is really is too cold out there for them to grow very well or quickly. The one plant that has had a modicum of success is the cress. All of the other lettuces, herbs, crucifers, and greens are small and sad. I rearranged some storage over the winter holiday so I might be able to use our space under the stairs for the indoor starts and the grow wall as this space is tucked away and the radiant floor heat should make the plants explode. More to come on this project.
I dream of a week in which we do not have to purchase lettuce from the market and we add homegrown bok choi to stir fry from the grow wall.
Direct Sow in Garden
I have so many seeds that there is no way I have space to grow all of these veggies next season. I do have some ideas for growing green beans and peas on a trellis on the side of the deck so there is a small possibility that I will get these all planted. For now though I have my photo reference for my garden planning.
Seeds to Stratify
I recently read a blog post about using milk jugs as mini green houses to get perennial seeds started outside and I may try this toward the end of the month along with putting a few packets in the fridge until spring. The Shasta daisy, galardia, and rudbekia in the envelopes are seeds I saved from my garden in Golden. These will allow me to pay homage to all of the hard work that went into building my last garden and remind me that it pays off.
My sister is a vagabond and never stays put for very long; hence the van life. She gifted me these heirloom seeds, but I have not had luck getting them to germinate and I wonder if they were overheated in storage. They are from 2018. I will see if the local community garden by my children's school might want them. If not I may compost them and let them enter back into the cycle of life. Also in this pile, a pack of butternut squash seeds from 2010. I decided it was time to let these go as hard as it is. The act of having to get rid of really old seeds or seeds gone bad is a good deterrent from over buying this season.