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What does this even mean “as soon as the soil can be worked”???

As the snow melts and the ground thaws, many folks are ready to transplant, to seed and start the growing. I have the itch myself after what has seemed like a hard Alaskan winter.

Nature is giving hints that our time is approaching. Flowering bulbs are pushing through the soil with some even blooming in warm microclimates. Certain perennials are beginning to put on their new growth. Fruiting trees are are showing leaf buds and insects are making their first appearances.

With all these signs of life and the desire to awaken our growing spaces…there are still many other indications that we need to have some patience.

Nightime temperatures are still in the “killing frost” zone for many cultivated plants. Areas of the soil are still frozen below 6″. Soil life is just beginning to emerge and make new economies for trading resources.

We are still covered in feet of snow albeit melting quickly. Soil is nature’s water catchment…soil needs time to allow the water to infiltrate and turn mud into a thriving ecosystem to support plants.

So what is “as soon as the soil can be worked”? There are specific plant scenarios but we will stick with a broad focus to include as many plants as possible.

Soil temperatures around 50F – not only is this nearing the optimal temperature for soil life but it is a great indicator that those seeds that appreciate a cooler soil temperature (peas, cilantro, spinach and others) will germinate more evenly and timely. If we seed too early there is potential that the soil is too cold for germination. Seeds will sprout with the soil temperature and soil moisture nurture life.

Soil is dry (ish) you can squeeze a ball and it is not dripping wet. If we seed too early…for those seeds that do not have a hard coat (carrots, lettuce, arugula) they can rot with too much soil moisture. If we transplant too early into heavy mud, roots can rot as well. Soil life, air, water and nutrients need to move freely throughout the soil. Think “would I want to grow in this soil”?

Nightime temperatures consistently in the 40s for cold hardy plants (caution here…too cold and broccoli will button instead of crown). Our current temperatures are perfect for perennials and biennials to emerge from their sleep. They are extremely hardy and are prepared for what lies ahead.

As for the warm loving plants (squash, pumpkins, tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, dahlias, zinnias, eggplants and others) many will suffer tissue damage at 45F. It is truly best to wait until night time temperatures are in the upper 50s to transplant. This may be the first week of June for Southcentral.

Many folks may be new to gardening or new to Alaska. I will say as my 15th Spring that anything goes…it is the wild! When in doubt look to when the trees leaf- around the second or third week in May. This is an excellent time to grow!

 

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To soak or not to soak…that is the question (?)

The ecological relationship between seed and soil is like a symphony; there are natural cues that promote germination.

One of the major cues is moisture level! When the conditions are right, the seed will follow its own instinct and begin to swell. Once the seed coat is soft and moist the new seedling erupts into life.

The germination time for seeds varies greatly depending on the species. Some seeds can take years for germination (peonies) and others germinate in less than three days (cabbage family). We can use a mechanical force to speed the germination time (soaking).

Large seeds with hard coats (sunflowers, honeywort, peas, beans, corn and sweet peas) will appreciate a longer soaking- up to 24 hours.

Larger seeds with softer coats such as pumpkins, squash, chard, beets, nasturtium and cucumber are perfect to soak overnight.

Small seeds like lettuce, radish, carrots and tomatoes can become mushy and sticky if soaked too long (15-30 min) is appropriate.

Find a shallow bowl, place your seeds and top with water. Set away from pets, kids and spouses out of direct sunlight and in a warm location. Warm water is best but any water will do (what would nature do).

Once seeds have soaked and swelled…it is time to plant! Follow your seed packet guidelines for planting depth or reference our write up: https://seedsandsoilorganics.com/…/seed-starting-simply/

When in doubt…ask the question: What would nature do?

Alaska Sown-Alaska Grown

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Spotlight on seed: Giant Red Mustard

Giant Red Mustard is a staple green in our kitchen. This is my husbands favorite leafy green by far!

Perfect for companion planting with slow growing vegetables or flowers, mustard is a true “cut and come again”. Harvest individual leaves for sandwiches, salads or a stir fry. The large leaves can be used as wraps for a low carb and gluten free bread replacement.

Mustard is excellent combined with sweeter greens in “wilted” salads and perfect for some flavor in smoothies.

This variety is very cold hardy and withstands frosts with ease. Mustard is perfect for shade gardens and those that are a bit cooler.

Fall in love with flavor with an old fashioned green.

Shop now: https://seedsandsoilorganics.com/product/mustard-giant-red-brassica-juncea-var-integrifolia/

Alaska sown-Alaska grown

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What seeds are we starting this week

Chives!

One of my favorite “stacking” plants…chives have so many functions within the garden ecology and they are one of the easiest plants to grow with a little attention.

A hardy herbaceous perennial (zone 3 to 11) that serves as an edible perennial, pollinator attractor, biocontrol, cut flower, edible flower, self seeding plant that can be divided in the fall every 2-3 years. I don’t think it get much better than that.

We intensively plant chives around our Apple trees to outcompete the grass but to also attract pollinators and beneficial insects.

Start in flats or cell packs. Sow 1/4″ deep with germination occurring within 10-14 days. Once chives reach about 5″ in height, give them a nice trim to 2″.

Don’t forget to feed them every 3 weeks while growing indoors.

Yes! We do have seeds available: https://seedsandsoilorganics.com/product-category/shop-seeds/

Happy Growing!

Alaska sown-Alaska grown

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Safe Seed Pledge

Here is our pledge:

SAFE SEED PLEDGE

“Agriculture and seeds provide the basis upon which our lives depend.  We must protect this foundation as a safe and genetically stable source for future generations.  For the benefit of all farmers, gardeners, and consumers who want an alternative, we pledge that we do not knowingly buy or sell genetically engineered seeds or plants.  The mechanical transfer of genetic material outside of natural methods and between genera, families or kingdoms, poses great biological risks as well as economic, political, and cultural threats…”

All of the links to sign the pledge, research the pledge or contact the Council for Responsible Genetics are no longer viable.