Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Midwest Gardening: February

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The first week in February my hubby came home with new seeds and a few new grow trays. So many of our trays had disintegrated and were disposed of in Fall. One thing we didn't finish in Fall was the stripping of the greenhouse to replace the insulation.


 I did sort through everything last Fall, but hubby was occupied with other projects and the Greenhouse gutting just didn't get done. As soon as the weather breaks, we will take everything out except the sink, insulate with foam sheet insulation, and cover it with some sort of tight surface. 


If you remember last year we had mice which harbored wood ticks, and every time I went in there I ended up with ticks.....YUGH!

We've already treated the greenhouse with sulphur bombs, and will continue until we make the greenhouse tighter and rodent free. So, I dodged in there yesterday, grabbed only what I needed to do some transplanting and planting.


Of course, like all Midwest gardeners with their noses pressed upon the windows, and hoping that the gray/brown/iced landscape will subside into Spring, we begin to plan. We plant indoors and cross our fingers we have guessed the proper time to begin planting. Weather forecasts have proposed (fickly) perhaps that last frost date this year will be April 15---almost full month earlier than normal.


I have my garden planner in order, and sent off a seed order for over $50.00. 

I'm getting READY for



Unfortunately when you live in a small house the kitchen table becomes your work space. It's too cold on the porch---and besides, normally the light is the best in the kitchen.

Tools I use are two teaspoons, a scoop to fill the pots (inside the bag) a bowl to mix water and soil, scissors to cut my skewers in half to make labels, a permanent pen, my tray and of course pots. Those, we save from buying plants. 


OUTSIDE is not really ready for gardening, rain followed with freezing rain, followed with ICE!


February 22nd, and this is on again/off again day of icing.


I'm keeping an eye on my neighbor's monster tree---and all it's dead limbs---huge limbs hanging over our yard, large enough to kill anyone of us and our cars.

Anyway, back to the main course.


Ages ago, I did a post on covering my Oster chopper accessories container which I kept on the counter. Well the chopper died and parts weren't available, and I thought that it would make a grand seed container!


Today, it's holding much of my seeds for the Spring. These are seeds we are planting in the ground as well as starting in trays now, and in March. It's the perfect size!


We have a SouthEast exposure kitchen with two huge windows, adequate to start veggies and flowers in Winter. I also have a bunch of bulbs Hubby came home with---that I will plant by the weekend in another post.


February 1st or so, we started Carnival Peppers, Sweet peppers and Broccoli. We also have tomatoes started later that aren't ready for transplanting yet. Normally they take forever to come up--but we had warm sun in the windows and moderate temps they really got big in three weeks.


All our containers and pots of dirt were put in  put into the compost pile with leaves and garden waste, so we have a couple of fresh bags of starter soil, and potting soil in the house. 

I filled my containers with dry potting soil and stirred lots of water in them. I worked on a large baking tray, we purchase these at a restaurant supply store. I also use boot trays that have been purchased on sale for long containers and inexpensive cookie sheets from the $$ store to place the transplanted pots on. They contain the extra overflow from the pots, and also add moisture to the air.

I also mix a bowl of wet soil to spread around the plants as I place the seedlings deep as possible inside the containers. Roots will grow along the buried stems giving the plants a healthy start.


I've transplanted one or two in each pot to see which will do the best. So I have ten pots of red/green peppers and 10 of Carnival/mixed peppers. We will give some away to friends. 


The worst part of transplanting is the 'Planticide'---the sacrificing of all the weak plants and transplanting only the seedlings with the strongest stems.


After two days in the pots  are doing very well.


These big trays hold 20 of these pots and space along the side which I will use for bulbs in bigger pots. Space will become an issue.


The East window is set up for the Broccoli starts because it is a bit cooler here. The sun disappears but there is still great light. We will set up some grow lights for cloudy days like today to supplement light. 

Young plants need at least 12 hours of light to grow strong. We also run our ceiling fan on low to encourage thick stems.


I have a thick vinyl tablecloth covering my furniture.  We will add some plastic shelving to this cabinet, when more plants are started.

What I have planted and date so far for 2023.


Broccoli  on 2/1 transplanted 2/20
Yellow Honey Gold tomatoes 2/7 
Yellow Pear tomatoes 2/7
Carnival Peppers 2/7 transplanted 2/20
Japanese eggplant 2/20
San Marzano Tomatoes 2/20
Best Boy Tomatoes 2/20


Green Zinnias, old package and harvested seeds 2/21
Black Eyed Susans, harvested seeds 2/21
Cherry SF seeds (2022) 2/21
Autumn SF seeds (2022) 2/21

I plant old seeds early to see if they are viable. If they don't come up in two weeks, I will plant same or similar with new seeds. 

Seeds have become so expensive and so few in a package, harvesting and sharing with friends is really a good way to try and make a savings while gardening. Reusing old containers is excellent for the environment, and recycling plastics is also good when they are no longer viable. 

Some greenhouses take back containers and trays, be sure to ask rather than throwing them away to live forever in landfills.

OUR Goals: will be to move into the newly insulated Greenhouse with heat by March 10---but this will all depend on if we can get the new insulation in there! April 15th isn't that far away---we won't plant peppers or tomatoes in the ground, but many seedswill be ready to go into the ground then. I hope to get lettuce started next week if we can find a place to do it!


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