Getting Ready for Spring Planting

Well, I just couldn’t resist – I started some seeds. Yes, it may be a little early but I’d like to be eating tomatoes earlier than September this year. I started a dozen Silvery Fir Tree tomato seeds in a mini greenhouse in my kitchen. I’m excited about this variety – it’s an heirloom from Seed Saver’s Exchange that is perfect for hanging baskets. I plan on keeping four to six of the plants for myself, and giving away the rest (two are spoken for already, but if you’re in Chicago and want a tomato seedling or two, contact me!) .

I have a couple of favorite seed purveyors, so it’s always hard for me to decide who to place the order with (in the interest of shipping charges, it’s one order per year). Veseys I like quite a bit for their selection of garden supplies – I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m a big fan of their lime green Sow & Grow mini greenhouses and seed starting flats. I also like Pine Tree Garden Seeds because they have unbeatable prices (tons of seeds for under a dollar a packet), a huge selection with a lot of heirloom varieties and crafting supplies. And of course, Seed Saver’s Exchange, which is all heirloom and fairly local to me as they’re in Iowa.

I decided to place my seed order this year at Seed Saver’s, and of course, it’s fairly ambitious for someone living in an apartment with no access to the outside –

– Golden Nugget Hot Pepper

– Lacinato Kale

– Blue Solaize Leeks

– Blue Jade Corn

– Tom Thumb Peas

Yes, there’s corn on this list. Like all of the seeds offered by Seed Saver’s, it’s an heirloom. I’ve been wanting to get it for a few years because it’s one of the only varieties of sweet corn that can be grown in containers. It only grows two to three feet tall and bears three to six small ears of corn per stalk. I plan on growing a dozen or so stalks in my Earth Box out in the parking lot (have to make use of the space you’ve got!).

The Golden Nugget pepper is another variety good for containers, and has a medium heat. The kale and leeks might not be the best use of container space since you pretty much only get one “use” out of each plant, but they’re some of my favorite vegetables, so I’d like to try growing a few.

And as the container theme continues, Tom Thumb peas are a tiny little plant that Seed Saver’s touts as being a good centerpiece on the dining table! My husband loves fresh peas in the summer, so I’ll grow a couple of these as well.

The secondhand plastic pots I’ve had for the last – well, it has to be at least the last five years – finally gave out at the end of last season. The plastic was starting to become brittle and cracked. My Earth Box is in good condition and ready to go after a good scrubbing, and as I said above, I plan to grow some corn in it. I’m debating on the planters for the tomatoes. If I do them indoors, I’ll get hanging baskets with wall brackets so I can mount them in the windows without having to use up the windowsill space on the largest plants. But I’m thinking about invading the parking lot even more – there is an ugly chain link perimeter fence, so I’m thinking about hanging some grow bags from it for the tomatoes. And of course I’ll have to get a few more containers for the leeks, kale, peas and peppers – not sure yet which kind but I’ll have to start scavenging the thrift stores soon!

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3 thoughts on “Getting Ready for Spring Planting

  1. The corn sounds exciting! I can’t wait to hear if the ears develop correctly. It is on my list for next year if you have good results.

  2. I also chose three of those same varieties! I tried growing the jade blue corn last year, but it didn’t go well. It wasn’t sunny enough and they were too crowded (I tried them with a three sisters planting. Mostly an epic failure). Anywho, I got some more seeds this year and can’t wait!

    Also, I’ve always had a boatload of kale all season from the same plants. If you don’t harvest it when it’s young, it’ll keep growing and then you can snap off the larger leaves at the bottom. If you keep harvesting it, eventually it looks like a little palm tree with a thick, barren stalk and a large rosette of leaves at the top.

  3. I think the Blue Jade might suffer from the three sisters style of planting because it’s so short – the beans likely choked it out. You should try again planted alone.

    And thanks for the tip on the kale – I had no idea it could be harvested more than once. Now I feel like I can justify planting a few!

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