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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Some gardening changes...........maybe

I have been thinking alot lately about gardening and how and when to plant things. A friend and fellow blogger and some others were discussing onions last year when I thought mine were not going to be any good. He suggested that I try growing my onions from seed. So I ordered the seed. Should have prolly started them last fall but that didn't happen. So they will need to be started now. That is my plan for tomorrow. Maybe we wont have some form of precipitation to deal with an I can get to my potting mix and fill some flats and start the onions. My buddy did share some growing tid ibts with me tho about onions. They need warm 60 degrees to sprout and then will grow fine at cooler temps. He also suggest clipping the tops off the onions as they grow to help then make better roots and stronger stems. Then allow them to get some growth before setting in the garden. This I think I  can do. This will be my first time growing onions from seed as we usually try to find sets here early in the season. But I do hope this will provide us a better quality onion that keeps better in the cellar. Also in growing onions in the past from sets I have learned that onions do not need a lot of soil over the bulb. I have much better luck if I make a ridge in the row where I intend to plant them and set the sets on the lil ridge. As the bulbs grow they will push the dirt away and grow bigger. It also makes them easier to harvest, less bruising and breaking the stems off getting them out of more compacted soil.
There are several different kinds of seeds that need to be started really early like celery, cabbage, and broccoli. I was thinking again today about how we started plants when I was growing up here. At the time we raised tobacco and always burned the tobacco bed off. Build a large pile of scrap wood and limbs on the area for the bed and lit it on fire. This heats the ground and kills any weed seeds that are in the ground. The fire would die down and then we would rake the ashes off. We would build a frame with boards around the area the size to accommodate the canvas that went over the top. The bed was then seeded and in one end dad alas sowed the tomato, cabbage and what ever else we had that needed to be started. The bed was watered and taken care of till time to set tobacco and the tomatoes an stuff were big enough to transplant. They were then pulled from the bed an the roots wrapped in wet news paper and taken straight to the garden and set out. Now if this method worked well back then, why the hell am I starting plants in flats in the greenhouse. The one reason we stopped doing bed was the fact that the canvas material was no longer available when farmers went to starting tobacco plants in float trays by hydroponics. I think this year I might try starting the tomatoes and some cabbage in a bed like we used to. Pretty sure I can find some old sheer curtains to use as a  cover over the seedlings.
When you grow several varieties of a specific vegetable and you don't want them crossed so you can save your seeds you can plant at least 3 of each variety in a large flower pot and place in a separate area. Or better yet as I have done in the past, plant them in your flower beds. This way when I save seeds for different varieties of tomatoes I know the seed are not crossed because there is a good distance between them. When we plant our sweet corn we plant in blocks, several short rows in the same area instead of may 2 long rows the length of the garden. This will improve pollination of the corn and when I save some ears for seed I save the ones farthest from the other variety. I usually end up with a block of one kind on one end and another kind on the other end of the garden. In planting melons, the old was to dig out a hole about 2 ft across and fill it with manure and cover it with soil, flatten the top of the hill, plant about 4 seeds in each hill. We always had melons. Somewhere along the way we got lazy and started planting them in rows and they seem to get choked out by weeds. It does make bigger better melons if you fruit prune them when they start to set lil melons. Take all but about 2 off each vine and pinch off the tip end of the vine so it puts more energy into the 2 melons to make them big instead of several lil melons that are not as flavorful. So yep I think we might go backward in time a lil this year when we plant and do some things the old way and see if we don't have better results. Maybe spring will get here soon an I can put some of these things into action instead of sitting around do in all this thinking. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.