Monday, October 14, 2013

A Sure Start

How did it get to be October?  And almost Halloween?  I'm still planning to add a few tomatoes to my garden, and some pumpkins...I guess I'll have to wait until next year, and plant parsley and dill and chervil and cilantro instead.

If you live in Chicago, that must sound crazy, but they will germinate and grow here now, while the soil is still warm and the days are warm but shorter and not baking hot - that makes them bolt.  And when it gets cold they will be so established they'll take it in stride, producing crisp greens all winter.  At least that's the theory - but it only works if you plant them now.

Olivia and I planted a bunch of lettuces one year in November.  Late November.  In a big pot with fabulous soil.  They came up - barely - and sat there for the whole winter, a few spindly sad leaves.  When the weather warmed up they couldn't wait to bolt.  No lettuces for eating, and a healing serving of guilt.  

Lettuce is a winter crop here.  So are parsley, dill, chervil and cilantro.  But plant them now!   In a few weeks it will be too cold.  I'm off to dig up one of the (many) sad looking parts of my garden, scratch in a little Sure Start fertilizer, and tamp in some seeds.  And don't forget the tamping!  Remember when Annie of Annie's Annuals talked about her first seed-starting foray?  Her cat, Persephone, walked across the six packs, and the seeds only sprouted in the footprints.  A good patting down is essential to germination.  

And don't forget the sweet peas!  Soak the seeds overnight - cover with very warm water (almost hot but please! you don't want to cook them!  use some discretion.. This from the girl who blackened the bottoms of the rose stems with boiling water, the theory being "If a little is good, a lot is better.  Not in gardening.  Show some restraint.) and let the seeds soak and the water cool overnight.  In the morning plant with some Sure Start in the bottom of the hole.  Spring will be floriferous and fragrant! 

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