Thursday, January 26, 2012

Winter Sowing: Part 3

The Pot Farm has only grown by three this week: 

Red Leaf Lettuce

Bull's Blood Beets

Cleome - the seeds were generously donated to the cause by a friend who has gorgeous cleome growing in her purple-themed garden.

And in a totally different kind of winter sowing, these are fenugreek sprouts! I was rumbling through the spice drawer one night this week, looking for the ground cumin, and came across a little bag full of fenugreek. Fenugreek is a bit of a mystery to me, but I bought them to make this Georgian Pork Stew (as in the Republic of Georgia, not the State of Georgia). It was yummy, in case you were wondering.

Fenugreek seeds are hard and sort of triangular-shaped. And they have the faint odor of maple syrup. Or carmel. Or something sweet. Seriously. Fenugreek is used to make fragrances and a processing plant in New Jersey had everyone smelling maple syrup. 

Back to the little bag of fenugreek in my spice drawer ... 

Seeing the seeds made me wonder what kind of plant they came from. I dug around on the web and learned that not only are the seeds used for cooking, but the greens are also an important part of Indian cuisine (called Methi). It's a pretty plant. And a member of the legume family, so it's a nitrogen-fixer and an excellent soil conditioner.

I started wondering how I could get my hands on some seeds to try to grow in the garden. And then I realized I might already have them in my hands. Many spices are irradiated before being sold at retail, so I wasn't sure the ones in my spice drawer were viable. So before placing an online order for new seeds, I did a little sprouting experiment. I just put a couple dozen seeds in a wet paper towel in a plastic bag and let it sit on the counter. Two days later, I could tell they were starting to sprout! The picture above is after 4-5 days. Very exciting. I haven't tasted them yet, but I've read that they are often sprouted right along with mung bean and other sprouts for fresh eating.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Winter Sowing: Part 2

The winter sowing continues...

Today's additions include:

Poppy - Mission Bells and Pizzicato

Lupine - Dwarf Minarette and Tutti Frutti

Carrot - Royal Chanteney - I'm not sure why I did these as there should be no trouble direct sowing them early in the spring. Oh well ... I'll just consider it an experiment.

Monarda - Some of my neighbor's Monarda was creeping through the fence last year, so I dug it and transplanted it to a more favorable location. I didn't think it would transplant very well, but it did just fine. I'm hoping for several patches of it this year in various places around the garden. If the winter sown doesn't take, I'm sure there will be more creeping through the fence this year, too.

Sea Holly - I think I tried to winter sow these last year, too. I don't remember planting any of them, so I'm guessing it was a failed experiment last year. Here's hoping for better luck in 2012.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Winter Sowing Has Begun!

I've only managed nine containers so far, but I plan on doing about this many each week until I get through all of them.
This batch includes:

Penstemon - Chocolate Drop

Lead Plant - I tried - unsuccessfully - to wintersow this one last year.

Lupine - Wuthering Heights - I'm determined to get lupine to grow in my yard! I did have a few that seemed to survive the summer last year (no blossoms, though), so I'm curious to see if they come back this spring. And hopefully this batch will take. I have seed for two additional kinds of lupine - maybe one will be more successful than the rest.

Poppy - Shirley 
Poppy - Venus
Poppy - Giant Peony
I have some Oriental poppies that are doing marvelously well, so hope I can get a stand of different types going. I think they are my favorite flowers.

Arctic Iris - I got these seeds in Alaska a couple of years ago. I think they are some type of Siberian iris.

Fireweed - I also picked up these seeds in Alaska. They haven't been treated very well, so I'm not even sure if they're viable.

Dinosaur Kale - I have a large stand of Red Russian Kale and only a few of the Dinosaurs. I think it's lovely, so I will probably plant this amongst the flowers.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Hello, Again

Forgive the terrible cell phone picture, but I was so surprised to find my overwintering rosemary blooming that I couldn't be bothered to find new batteries to put into my "real" camera. I have two pots of rosemary in the house this winter - this one is blooming and the other one has powdery mildew. A study in contrasts.

On another note, I finally hacked open my Jarrahdale pumpkin. At 12 lbs, it was a bit of bear to get in to, and I look like an Umpalumpa as my hands are stained completely orange.  Most of it is in the oven roasting now - I'll probably make some soup and mash/freeze the rest. I've also got a pot of Thai-inspired pumpkin soup on the stove. It's a bit of an experiment ... updates later on how it tastes.