Monday, February 25, 2013

lessons from the land

This weekend I went to a seed starting workshop at Little City Farm. I wasn't sure how much I would get out of it. I mean, how complicated can it be, right? You put some seeds in some dirt and water them. It turns out that it isn't complicated, but hearing from someone with a ton of real experience can save time on those painful learning experiences.

I had some of them in my garden last year, which I didn't report on here. I tried some success planting. In the middle of July I direct seeded cabbage, Brussels sprouts, beets and carrots hoping for a late fall harvest. I really wanted some storage vegetables for the winter. But I didn't get any. Only one cabbage plant germinated and no Brussels sprouts. The beets and carrots germinated fine, but they just didn't seem to grow. Neither did the cabbage. I figured the colder temperatures just slowed everything down.

On Saturday, the instructor said that it was the decreased daylight hours that make everything slow down. Plants will happily just hang out, so there's way less rush to harvest when they're ready in the fall, but growth? Not so much.

I actually planted two different sets of beets a couple weeks apart, and the first set was really stunted. Later, I learned that if you work soil when it's too wet, the structure collapses and it totally compacts. So that's what happened with the first set.

But hearing from the instructor this weekend made me realize just how valuable these learning experiences are. They're disappointing, sure. But the information really sticks.

Having said that, I'm hopeful that after this workshop I'll be able to get some hardy wee seedlings in the ground without any painful learning experiences. I've discovered celeriac through our winter CSA this year and I ADORE it. I cannot get enough. So I'm going to try my hand at growing it but apparently it needs a very long season. So there's no choice but to start it indoors myself. Wish me luck!

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