Moldy Seeds and other Lessons Learned

Seeds expire? What?  You can’t just leave them in any old container in a damp and cold space all winter and expect to use them the following year?  Who knew?

Clearly you can tell I’m new to starting plants from seed.  Upon opening up my trusty seed box (Kermit the frog metal lunch box), which I kept outside all winter on my potting bench in our cold and wet NW climate, I was almost knocked over by the smell, and sight, of some very moldy seeds.

Even though that was a disappointing shock, it also presented an opporunity to start over this year (recurring theme in my life) with a new batch of seeds and little more experience.  To that end, let’s start with a review and update of the original plan set forth last year as outlined in my Mini-Project:  Learning from Seed post.

Mini-Project Name:  Learning from Seed

Project Start:  April 2012

Goal (RESULT):  Grow 90% of the veggies this season from seeds (MET – Thanks only to my prolific Sun Gold tomatoess, they completely skewed the numbers.)

Objectives (RESULTS):

  1. Have more appreciation for what happens before I buy my plants “ready to go” (OBJECTIVE MET – I now totally and completely appreciate the ability to buy healthy starts at my local garden center.)
  2. Grow plants I can’t typically find at the local garden store (NOT SO MUCH – Unfortunately my more exotic veggies did not survive my neglect – turns out they are harder to grow – who knew?)
  3. Practice Patience (UMMM)
  4. Save Money (COMPLETE FAILURE – Besides my 4 awesome Sun Gold tomato plants, some radish and beets that were started outside, and my herbs and flowers, I had to buy veggie starts for everything else.  And to compound the failure I didn’t care for my leftover seeds and had to throw them all out this year!)

The “Insiders”

OK…so perhaps starting 247 plants indoors is a bit ambitious…here are the results.

  • Marigold & Alyssum (SUCCESS – These fall into the “Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy” category.)
  • Basil & Sage (FAILURE – They Started out great in the grow pods but then stunted in the ground.)
  • Thyme & Oregano (JURY STILL OUT – They disliked their 1st location so I moved these from pots into the ground and they finally took hold.  They wintered over so I will watch them this year.)
  • Chives (SUCCESS – These are a fantastic herb, they wintered over and grow great in pots, although I really don’t need many so a package of seeds was overkill.)
  • Oak Leaf Lettuce (COMPLETE FAILURE – I moved these outside too early.)
  • Spacemaster Cucumber (COMPLETE FAILURE –  These started out fine in the pods but then stunted in ground.  Although the one I gave to my Mom grew great…operator error?)
  • Onions and Leeks (PARTIAL SUCCESS – I used these as companion plants. They fulfilled that part of their mission but they never did mature into something worth eating.  I think they were crowded out.)
  • Black Tula & Tumbling Juniper Tomato (PARTIAL SUCCESS – These never really did mature, I think I put them out too early and they got “stressed” but I did get some decent fruit that made a yummy sauce  – see Saucy!)
  • Sun gold Tomato (MY SHINNING STARS – although I only grew four and these are VERY easy to find as starts…not really worth starting from seed.)

The “Outsiders”

My outdoor seed starting results were much more impressive.  I attribute this to not needing to transplant the pods, which didn’t work so well once in the ground, and that I used a square foot gardening template to place my seeds.  I also believe that the type of template I used encouraged me to the use the right amount of seed starter soil and easily plant the seeds at the correct depth.

  • Beets (OK – Only about 25% matured, this could have been due to the location and planting too deep)
  • Carrots  (FAILED – These didn’t mature , my lack of patience may have played a role here.  Plus I planted these prior to learning about the square foot gardening technique so I may have planted them too close together.)
  • Mesclun Mix (FAILED – I started these outside too early.)
  • Plum & Red Radishes (SUCCESS – Plus I learned hot to make awesome tarragon pickled radishes!)
  • Snap Peas (SUCCESS – freshly picked and steamed peas is hard to beat!)

Seed Plan 2013 – Guiding Principles:

  • I will only grow lettuce from starts
  • I will resist the urge to buy 20 different types of tomato seeds when I can only realistically fit 8 mature plants in my yard
  • I will focus ONLY on those special plants I can’t buy as starts
  • I will be patient and let my slower growing root vegetables fully mature before picking
  • I will share seeds
  • I will store any important, left over seeds, properly…sorry Kermit

I-Love-Kermit-Retro-Tin-Lunch-Box_14779-l

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