Aug 24, 2007

The Season

What a season this has been. From its meager beginnings back in the early days of March when the seeds were sown, to the sultry days of August when I thought the harvest would never wane...oh what a whirlwind it has been.
I have learned a few things in this my inaugural year of growing all from seed. The most important things being that Eggplants sown in mid march will not have a stellar fruiting season, hardening off is harder than it looks , tomatillos really DO need a partner and crying over seedlings thought lost is a noble if not foolish thing .

Ok so from this we now know that Eggplant seeds need to be sown in the early to mid weeks of February to get some nice growth on them before their trip to the Veggie garden in May. I suppose for a lot of folks who grow from seed this seems like to early a time for sowing, but trust me, we keep my house so cold in the winter that seedlings grow fairly slowly, and it seems that although the tomatillo, peppers and tomatoes were ok with this, the eggplant were tiny when all was said and done. They have caught up since, but really should have produced fruit by now and I am going to be lucky if I get 2 fruit out of 4 plants that survived. Kind of a disappointment seeing that I have never had a Rosa Bianca or a Listada De Gandia before and I was really looking forward to it. Well live and learn and lucky me that I saved some seeds for next season.

Next thing...Hardening off....always remember, and don't ever matter how shady you think a spot is, its probably not shady enough for your tender little baby seedlings. So plant more than you think you will need, if they all survive, you get to give them away or plant them creatively where they never would have been before. If you kill many , well then you had too many to start with and still have enough or at least some left to enjoy and you can fill in with transplants from the store.

Speaking of killing baby seedlings, it seems that tomatillos are easily scalded when rushed to harden ...and one plant is not enough to set fruit. I had hoped for so long that someone in the neighbourhood had tomatillos in a garden close enough for my one little lonely survivor to set fruit....alas it wasn't meant to be. I also killed off all of my purple tomatillo seedlings...funny thing is, back when they first sprouted I was shocked at how many I had and concerned that I wouldn't be able to find homes for them all...I should have known better.

Lastly, I spent as harrowing afternoon outside my backdoor crying my eyes out fearing that I had killed my seedy babies...after all the time I spent collecting my seeds from online friends and other sources, after sowing these seeds lovingly, and caring for them thru the cold late Winter and chilly early Spring I couldn't believe that a little thing like a few hours of sun would do so much harm to them, but it did...and it was all my fault.Well truth be told after calming down and resigning myself to the loss of most of my special heirloom varieties, I convinced myself that I wouldn't give up...which really crossed my mind, and I would just fill in with store bought transplants, and be happy for the few Heirlooms that I had remaining.Well it turns out that seedlings although happier when not scalded by the sun , can come back and make gorgeous fruit after all.
So now I have harvested my share of tomatoes and eggplants, zucchini and cucumbers, snow peas and green beans and peppers. I have cooked with them, shared them threatened my kids with them and gotten a little tired of eating them....well, for now that is...but I am honestly thankful that I have a few feet of earth that I can call my own and a family that supports my quirkiness in the garden. Oh how tasty some of life's lessons can be!!

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