I find that getting seeds to germinate properly is the most difficult aspect of planting the garden.
The temperature of the soil as well as the humidity has to be just right—and remain so—for a period of time. Sometimes, as with carrots, this can be ten days to two weeks. Sun, wind, rain and temperature are unpredictable and can vary greatly within the course of one day. The little seeds live in the uppermost ¼ to ½ inch of soil and this is where the sameness has to be. With our raised beds, a sunny, windy, warm day can dry out this section many times in a day. I often have had to water the carrots four or five times from sunrise to sunset. Needless to say, I am quite tied to my garden during these periods (unless it rains!).
This year, I put old sheets on top of my germinating carrots and it seemed to help. Of course, you have to keep an eye on the bed and make sure that they aren’t “up” yet as the weight of the sheets would be hard on the emerging plants. This is what the young carrot seedlings look like.
These are carrots that are a little further along. I planted four rows in this bed where I really could have planted five, but this happens. So, I let an edible weed—in this case purslane—grow in the middle until it gets to a harvestable size.
Purslane is nice because it grows fast and it’s not only delicious but nutritious as well. Culpepper even thought it was useful for the treatment of fevers and inflammation. When you are getting it ready to steam, be sure to clean it carefully. Little bits of dirt like to hide where the stems come together. Steam until the consistency that you like (crunchy or soft), toss with butter and unrefined sea salt and yum!
Germinating Swiss Chard and Beans
In this bed, I planted Swiss chard. The first planting did not come up evenly, but I replanted it to fill in as you can see.
The beans are also just coming up. I’ve already placed their climbing poles as they have tendrils that can catch onto the stakes and climb up on their own.
Germinating Broccoli and Onions
The broccoli came in very well. I have way too many plants in their bed, but I’m not going to thin them just yet.
We’ve had too many days of cold rain here and my peppers and tomatoes are looking a bit dismal. I’m sure that some of them will be okay, but if they start rotting, it may be a super-big broccoli year….
Onions and other plants that can’t shade their own soil need quite a bit of weeding. If the soil isn’t too wet, I often loosen it with my fork to get all of the roots of the weeds. There is an old Chinese saying, “When weeding in the garden, be sure to get all of the root.” Once the bed is weeded, I re-water it as the roots of the crop need to be settled down.
Celeste Longacre has been growing virtually all of her family’s vegetables for the entire year for over 30 years. She cans, she freezes, she dries, she ferments & she root cellars. She also has chickens.
Celeste has also enjoyed a longtime relationship with The Old Farmer’s Almanac as their astrologer!
Celeste's new book on living lightly on the Earth is due out September 25, 2014.