Saturday, March 12, 2011

Seed stories

My first seeds are up. It's a bit late, but I decided late to start plants for the roof garden from seed. Last year's 'farm' was only planted in July from volunteer tomatoes that came up on the terrace as well as purchased, mature seedlings, so I have all this extra time to fill up with planning for more vegetables and fruit.

The most successful seeds were the Lemon Drop tomatoes - all the seeds germinated. Red Zebra was next, with about 2/3's up, and then the slowest has been Austin's Red Pear, whose seeds did look a little puny. These were all Seed Savers' seeds. Christina's Seneca sunflowers are tall and especially attractive to Monsieur Le Chat, while there is not a sign of movement from either the linaria from my mom's garden  or the American groundnuts from Pennsylvania. Maybe they are both wondering how the hell they got to New York. Like my husband.

They have to be covered by a milk crate to keep the cat from uprooting them. He wants to eat anything green right now. So I am preparing some cat grass for him, using barley.

Then yesterday, at Tony's Hardware on Smith Street, I went berserk. I bought peas (for the greens, mainly) and watermelons and Charentais melons and eggplant and bush cucumbers. He had a lot of seeds right at the door as well as seed starting trays. Only when I got home did I wonder about the manufacturer, Ferry and Morse, and Monsanto, and found online that there appears to be no connection to the GMO giant, but that Ferry and Morse seem frowned upon as a monopoly. Well, I bought them in a fit of planting fever. And they have been planted. So there.

My name is Marie and I am an impulse seed buyer. It has been eighteen hours since my last purchase.

Hello, Marie.

If everything germinates there is no way I will have space for it all so I may have to hold a little sidewalk sale.

And on the subject of confessions. I bought a bag of Miracle Gro "Organic" potting mix. Not thrilled to support a chemical company but it was all there was, and I wanted to sow seed now. And it said organic. It seems to be made of shredded mulch, not very good for starting seeds, but I reasoned that in nature seeds have seen worse than bits of bark. But the "organic" part - what, exactly, does that mean? It's quite hard to figure out: it has peat in it (which is not great, considering the end of the peat bogs), "composted bark," and "natural" fertilizer, later described as pasteurized chicken manure. It is described as soil for the organic gardener. Organic ingredients, but organic methods? Hardly.

I really wish I had space for making my own compost.

I had all these little bamboo spoons left from last year's Farm City Fair, where we were going to hand out tastes of pozole made with heirloom corn, but the health and hairnet police forbade it, leaving me with more cute little spoons than I could use in a lifetime. They make excellent labels!


  1. Those spoons are cool.

    Err, no room for compost is an invitation to the vermicomposting salespeople. But finding starter mix is a chore in this town. I found some on Court, at the hardware store close to the BQE.

    I would expect those perennial types to take extra long. Did they require any scarification?

  2. I can't compost in my apt. etiher, so I freeze the veggie scraps and bring them to the Lower East Side Ecology Center's bins at the Union Sq Greenmarket. They also sell compost and potting soil. My plants grew happily in the soil last season and are just waking up in their containers!

  3. Spoons are a brilliant idea. I'm going to get some and I think probably cheaper than the plastic labels. Next weekend is the Kirstenbosch plant fair - can't wait

  4. I've got a tomato plantation that's currently 5cm tall. Love your spoons!

  5. Hello Marie, 'name's Bruce. Remember, seed are friends, not food.

    Oh, and about New York, I know exactly how and why I got here. 66 very, very good reasons... ;-)

  6. I always do impulse buys and always buy more seeds than I need!

  7. Frank - I know, I know. I have thought about worms. I'm just not prepared to eat anymore space on my terrace and seriously, there is none inside. This truly is matchbox we live in. But I know, I know.

    Joy - that is very good of you. And those guys have great compost which I have often used in my 'professional' gardens.

    Hen - you can find bamboo spoons? or plastic - hardly matters if one can reuse them, I suppose.

    jvdh - I imagine that the Northern Hemisphere is asway with tomato plantations at the moment :-)

    Beence - hi Bruce, just remember that when you want to eat what the seeds' produce. Oh, wait. I have no white chocolate seeds...

    meems - it's been decades since I planted from seed (aside from my own collected self-seeded terrace herbs), which just shows how far removed I am from the gardening I did as child, which was all from seed.

  8. Silly question, Marie, but how do you keep your pots from breaking/crumbling, etc., after a winter outside, and particularly with soil in them?

    Anyway, thanks for your site. It's been beautiful inspiration to me over the past couple of years, when I went from owning a home in the Midwest that was surrounded by my own lovely (though humble) gardens, to a town home in the DC area that has about a 90 square feet terrace (complete with air conditioning units). I'm no less grateful, by the way, but it has been an adjustment!

  9. Good luck on your seedlings Marie!


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