Plant a Row for the Hungry from Free Edible StartsMay 24, 2009
I started planning our expanded edible garden last December. I ordered seed in January. And I began seeding my edibles in early January with mixed results. So far, we’re harvesting buckets full of lettuce, spinach and sorrel each day for enormous salads. We’ve had radishes coming out of the ground since Easter and are now on our third planting of them. Our chard and kales (lacinato and red winter) are coming in by the bundle every few days. And our cabbages, cauliflower and broccoli are starting to tighten up to form tasty heads.
The hoop houses (now covered only with floating row cover) have made a huge difference with retaining heat, protecting seedlings from freak hail storms, and keeping out worm-laying pests. Sure, I’d love to admire the beautiful plants rather than the white sheeting, but there’s enough beauty elsewhere in the garden that the sheets don’t bother me much — especially when I’m able to pick dinner from under them each day!
So, what hasn’t worked out as I’d hoped?
Well, first I’ve had mixed results seeding. Some plants happily germinated and produced incredibly well. Others completely failed to germinate or had low percentage success rates. For instance, where I ended up with over 100 tomatoes, I only produced one successful Bottlehouse gourd start. Although crookneck squash came through 100%, Butternut only germinated at about a 20% success rate.
There are a few things that play into these rates. First, when seeding, I tried a few seed tray methods. I found that using egg cartons works fairly well, but they dry out really fast. So my watering was a bit off for those and contributed to some of my failure rates. Too, where I seeded tray after tray of tomatoes, I only seeded about 1/4 of a tray of gourds. There’s the rub — seeding just enough to fit your garden does not guarantee you’ll end up with enough if germination isn’t perfect. So, instead, we seed too much. And now, I can’t give away enough starts!
Yesterday, I invited friends to visit my garden and take away extra edible plants ranging from Amaranthus to Tomatoes. I collected donations that will be passed along to a local foodbank. I figure this is a way I can plant a row for the hungry (and so can the people who took the plants away!). Despite giving away mountains of lettuce, trays of tomatoes, boxes of squash, and lots of other fun items, my back patio is still filled with extras that I need to distribute. These will NOT go back in my greenhouse.
It’s time for me to pot up my own plants to grow them on for my own garden, and believe it or not, it is time for me to sow even more seeds. One tomato seed is recommended for a late sowing and late harvest. Apparently, the fruit from it will store into late winter. So, for these crops and the winter crop seeding that begins in July, I need my greenhouse space back.
Today, the remaining plants are going into a public place for free in hopes they find good homes with hungry people who will care for them and enjoy their bounty later this summer. And, perhaps, some of the bounty grown from these starts might even make it to the food bank from your garden?!
If you’re interested in making a donation to the hungry and taking away some great edible starts (or you need some free edible starts to feed your own hungry family) , get in touch here with your contact info. If we have anything available by the time we hear from you, we’ll be in touch.