Sunday, February 17, 2013

Starting from Seed

 Dear Friends,

If you have been reading these posts at all, you may have begun to wonder exactly where the "garden" part of Heather's Home and Garden was!  Other than a brief post about some fall potted plants in 2011, there hasn't been much gardening in this blog.  But all that is about to change!  We had a second-story deck built in our back yard last year, and this year I'm getting the area under the deck hardscaped.  I will buy flowers to plant in the two large garden beds that will be installed on either side of the gate.  My back yard is rather tiny, but between the upper deck and the space below, I plan to create a veritable bower of flowery awesomeness!

To save money, I'm trying to start a bunch of plants from seed this year.  Lest you think I am premature in my planning, many seeds should be started indoors 8 - 10 weeks before the last frost, which according to the internet, is April 15th for zone 7.  That means the time to start my seeds is NOW!

I have an Aerogarden and recently ordered a seed starter kit to go in it for $30 (see photo).  Then yesterday I went to Greenstreet Nursery near where my parents live and went buck-wild buying seeds.  I spent almost $50 on seeds and those little biodegradable pots.  The reason I need the pots is that, according to my research, you can't just plop your tender little seedlings outside in the spring weather.  As they have known nothing but balmy indoor weather, they have to be "hardened" first.  Somewhat like weaning a baby, the process of hardening involves placing the seedlings outside for a few hours at a time and increasing the length of time they are outside until they can be kept out overnight (NOTE:  I just read the instructions on the Aerogarden seed starter kit and apparently you can harden your seedlings IN the Aerogarden container by simply removing the basin from the base that supports the light.  Good to know.)

From all this information, one may conclude that growing things from seeds is a bit of work.  I am curious to see how rewarding it is.  I am keeping track of all of my financial expenditures in this endeavor as I am very curious to see the price difference between starting from seed and buying from a nursery. 

Onto the fun part of this project: FLOWERS!

Those of you who know me know that I am studying culinary arts with the intent of pursuing a career in it.  So what could be better for my garden than edible flowers?  Edible flowers can be used as a garnish on salads or as a plate decoration, and some can even be candied and placed on sweets (i.e. violets and lavender).  Thus, this year's garden theme is edible flowers.  Now, there is a caviat when speaking of edible flowers.  Oftentimes the term "edible" is applied simply to indicate that consuming it will not harm you or kill you.  "Edible" does not necessarily mean that the flower will taste good.  So some of the edible flowers I am growing are more for appearance in plating, while others do actually possess a desirable flavor that can enhance food.  But, more about that later.  For now, I will give you a list of the flower seeds I bought!

I found a broad selection of pansies (aka violas) and also a seed packet of wild violets (the kind that grow wild in the woods - squee!) which I ordered online.  As soon as they arrive, I will start those seeds in my Aerogarden along with a few others I picked up yesterday.  Those include:

Common Name Other name Seed Brand Price
A Alyssum ALISO Carpet of Snow Burpee $1.79
P Bee Balm Mondarda hybrida Botanical Interests $2.69
A Chamomile, German Matricaria recutita Botanical Interests $2.39
P Columbine Aguilena Harlequin Mix Burpee $1.79

The A/P indicates whether the plant is an annual or perennial (first photograph at beginning of post is a picture of these seed packets). 


Alyssum, according to a fellow blogger, "[has] a slightly sweet and peppery flavor similar to kale. In fact Sweet Alyssum and kale are both in the Brassica family as are cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and many other vegetables. All the Brassicas are considered nutritious and health giving. Sweet Alyssum is no exception. It was once used in Spain to treat and prevent scurvy – a condition caused by malnutrition."

Bee Balm

According to wikipedia, bee balm, "although somewhat bitter, due to the thymol content in the leaves and buds, ... tastes like a mix of spearmint and peppermint with oregano. Bee balm was traditionally used by Native Americans as a seasoning for wild game, particularly birds." 


Most people are familiar with chamomile as an ingredient in herbal tisanes as it has a faint apple flavor. 


Certain species of columbines are edible, but the kind I bought are not so I will not be eating them or using them as garnishes. 

I purchased other seeds as well, which I divided into two categories.  The first category will be my second round of seedlings (I will purchase a second Aerogarden seed-starter kit for these seeds).  They are:

If you can't read the labels, these include bee balm, lemon balm, two types of morning glories, two types of marigold, and a petunia mix.  I promised my mom I'd share lemon balm and bee balm with her, so I have to either give her some seeds or start some seedlings for her.

The second group of seeds is the group I plan to sow directly in the soil once the threat of frost is gone (i.e. after April 15):

All of these plants will be placed in containers, at least, that's what I'm planning now.  They are flat-leaf parsley, nasturtium, cilantro, borage and cornflowers (also known as bachelor's buttons).  All are edible.  

I will continue to update you with photos after I start my first round of seedlings and they start to grow!

Also a question for your seed-starting gardeners out there:  I've heard that for best results, it's advisable to soak your seeds for 24 hours before planting.  Any thoughts?

No comments:

Post a Comment