Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Gardening Roadblocks

Inspired by the resounding near-success of my late-planted tomato and pepper plants, I have decided to put in a second-summer crop (most likely a marketing term, but what the heck, it fits) of cabbages and other brassicas.

I could NOT get my basil seeds to sprout this summer.  In fact, there are four spots in my new raised garden bed that I direct-sowed SIX TIMES and nothing happened.  Either my seed storage is terrible (a distinct possibility) and I killed my stash of seeds, or a certain company that will not be named has a terrible germination rate if the seed is older than one year.  I'm leaning towards the first one, since I also had seeds from a second company that failed to produce anything.

So what I did to remedy the situation was to take my culinary sprouting skills and apply them to garden seed sprouting, then plant the few seeds that sprouted in the jar.  And it worked!  They're coming up.

It's pretty sad, though, when I got better results from a bag of beans from the grocery store (a few white navy and kidney beans reserved before making a batch of Boston Baked Beans this week) than anything in my seed stash.  Maybe the porch where I keep my box of seeds is too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter, or maybe it's the weird humidity levels that yo-yo up and down, or maybe the stock I bought from both the unnamed internet company and my local Home Depot was old before I ever got it.  In any case, those empty spots are now almost filled, and hopefully the first frost will hold off till very late in November (our Texas norm is mid-November, so that's not unreasonable).

I had really, really wanted to grow my own pumpkins this year.  I love our local pick-your-own, but it is such a pain in the butt to get to in the summer for strawberries (cars are lined up for two miles just to get onto the parking lot, and that's AFTER they changed/updated their whole driveway and parking system) and the pumpkin patch situation before Halloween and Thanksgiving is only marginally better.

Yes, I have made my pumpkin pies from whole, roasted pumpkins.  And I'll do it again, because it's delicious.  And it's such a Real Food thing to do, doesn't take a lot of time (attended time, that is... the oven does most of the work), and you can feel good about the ingredients.  And it's a 1-to-1 swap of canned solid pack pumpkin to roasted pumpkin flesh.  Just lose the outer rind and mash it up or run it through a food mill.  Plus the whole pumpkins last in the "root cellar" really well, or the roasted mash can be frozen or canned in a pressure canner.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to September when the unnamed company will be shipping my seedling brassicas.  I didn't have much luck with their seeds this year, but the 50% off plants I planted in June are going nuts.  Here's hoping the trend continues.

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