February 21, 2011

Working Shelf

The primary criteria I use when choosing seed varieties is how quickly we will be able to harvest the fruit. Here in the Pacific Northwest, just two hours inland from the ocean, we have a rather short growing season. Couple that with the fact that our house is only 20 miles north of the Columbia River and at roughly 600 ft elevation, the result is we have a hard time grown anything that takes more than 70 days to mature.

Take melons for instance. I really, really want to have fresh picked melons from my garden. But the ground doesn't warm up enough until May to sow melon seeds and the days get too short too soon the in fall to ripen fruit that set in June. Two years ago we put starts the ground on Mother's Day when the soil was warm, but the fruit got no larger than a golf ball. Last year we tried starting the seeds under a cold frame in late March, but they never sprouted. This year we're starting the seeds inside on my new shelf. I'll keep the room temperature above 65 F all the time and there is lots of light from the floor to ceiling windows. Crossed fingers.

Other plants we started today and put on the shelf included Brussels sprouts, acorn squash and butternut squash - all of which require 80-100 days to harvest.

Jordan helped me plant. She was excited at first, wanting to be part of the garden experience. I started filling the pots and asked her to pack the soil down. But the potting soil was too "sticky". Next I made holes, Jordan put the seeds in each hole and started covering them up. But the soil was too "poky". So I had her write the plant names on pop-sickle sticks and place in each row. That turned out to be the perfect task. She wrote each in a different handwriting - block letters, cursive, curly q's.

Now we just water, watch and wait.

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