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Veggie Tales - February 2019

February 1, 2019
last modified: February 1, 2019

It’s still winter, but February means that, for most of us, it’s time to start seeds and finalize our plans for our gardens! The train has left the station and it‘s picking up speed!

I’ve started a few things already (mainly ornamentals), but this week marks the beginning of my ”serious” seed starting routine. It‘s time to start some cool-weather greens to replace the ones I over-wintered as well as artichokes. In a couple of weeks it will be time for me to start eggplant, pepper, tomatoes and the rest of the things that we can’t direct-seed.

Happy February, all!

Comments (640)

  • Norm Wilson(zone10/Sunset zone24)

    I really prefer the Jiffy pods because I've never had an issue with fungus with them. Last year I lost two batches of seeds before realizing there was an issue with the bag of seed starting mix. I also feel like the Jiffy pods help encourage me to repot into larger pots faster because I can see when the roots start poking out. When I've used the other cell trays they've gotten damaged easily but the ones designed for the pods have been better. so that's what I'm using from now on. will you believe this -- MORE rain out here. More. can't believe it

  • PRO
    Len NW 7a

    Good to hear Jack! Medania Spinach seeds arrived today! So I will be doing the same.

  • Habanero King (zone 7a, MD)

    Thanks all for the words about the Jiffy pods. I did forget to mention that I sowed 4 pods each of cabbage, brussells sprouts, and 3 varieties of lettuce on 2/16 and I'm happy to say there is a least 1 pod of each variety that has sprouted today (the cabbage having something in all 4 pods sprout). So I'm going to guess I had a bad batch of broccoli and cauliflower seeds.

    Second, today, while it was snowing/sleeting outside, I interplanted Scarlet Nantes carrots and more radishes in a 15 gallon pot. I am determined to harvest radishes!

    And finally, my big order from Bakers Creek arrived today. My weekend is going to be funnnnnnn.....

  • Jamie

    Norm - some of my friends/coworkers in San Diego were talking about it being "cold" the other day. What has the lowest temperature been lately?

  • Jamie

    some of the tomatoes I started on Saturday are germinating

  • Jamie

    Shasta Daisies (slow to germinate)

    oriental poppies

    Everleaf Basil and Purple Amethyst Improved Basil, Greek Oregano and Lemon grass. The herbs are ready to move into pots and I think I’ll do that tomorrow afternoon.

    I was about to give up on the Shasta daisies but I see one starting to germinate now.

  • 14tomatoes_md_7a

    Hab King -- what did you get from Baker? Post soon, 'cause I'm having withdrawal symptoms....


  • John D Zn6a PIT Pa

    I did a lot of thinking about your 60¢ per pound seed potatoes. I spent $41.33 for 10 pounds of seed potato. However; my plans are not to reorder every year. I wouldn't want to buy seed potato every year even if I can get it at your price. One of my concerns is where I got the blight issues on my tomatoes. I've made up my mind to try to keep a closed shop; so to speak. I no longer buy seedlings and I'm trying to buy as little seed as I can. I 'm trying to buy all heirlooms so I can save as much seed as I can for my future needs. And then there's my concern about where my seed potato comes from. Years ago they said not to replant your own seed potato unless you're at least a quarter mile high. They no longer say that, that I can find. I meet that requirement tho, and I'm happy with potatoes from Maine or Idaho, and Maine is cheaper for shipping. But if I had bought seed potato at your price and knew where they came from I'd be a happy fellow.

  • LoneJack Zn 6a, KC

    John - the gardening store I buy my seed potatoes from buys them by the truck load from a grower in Minnesota and they are certified disease free by the state. Potatoes are a major crop in MN becuse most of the state has very sandy soil. I replanted the German Butterball and Austrian Crescent for three years without any disease problem and I'm at about 900' elevation. If you can do that the seed potato cost decreases substantially every year. A lot like garlic in that regard. I'm only planting 2 4'x10' beds this year instead of my usual 3 beds. Dwarf tomatoes claimed the 3rd bed. I'm for sure planting Yukon Gold in one bed and either Red Norland or Red Potiac in half of the other. The other 1/2 bed will be either Kenebec or Norkotah Russet unless they offer a fingerling that peaks my interest. They usually only offer one fingerling and it changes from year to year. I'd like to try Banana or LaRatte fingerlings sometime.

    Cindy - I already read my book for 2019...Epic Tomatoes. :-P

    The steroids are not helping me as much or as fast as I expected. I need to call my doctor today to see about scheduling an Epidural. Not looking forward to that at all but if it cures the pain I'm all in.

    Anybody seen Kevin, Chris, and Jacob?

  • Habanero King (zone 7a, MD)

    Tony - I got the following:

    Waltham 29 broccoli (after my bad batch of seeds from my local nursery)

    Durgess 41 Cauliflower (again... after a bad batch)

    Blue Curled Scotch Kale

    Blue Lake Bush Bean

    Purple Teepee Bush Bean

    Cosmic Purple Carrot

    Marketmore 76 Cucumber (was relatively successful for me late in the season last year after the Straight 8's I grew were nothing but VINES and produced not one cuke)

    Georgia Collards

    Southern Giant Curled Mustard (I had old seeds from last year...I got these in case the ones I planted in Jiffy pods didn't do anything)

    Red Romaine Lettuce

    Yellow of Parma Onions

    Golden California Wonder Pepper

    Carolina Reaper Hot Pepper

    Butternut-Orange Squash

    Tokinashi Turnip

    Early Moonbeam Watermelon (this is a long shot for my balcony but I'm goign to try anyway... I also plan to take a few transplants to the family farm in NC.... they aren't used to yellow fleshed watermelon at all down there)

    So yes... I will have a full balcony this year....

  • Richard Teague

    Hello everybody, sorry I haven't been on in a while-I got some terrible news at the VA last week and it is taking me a while to process it-it does look like my gardening career will be cut short. They have been sending me to see a blood doctor for about a year and a half and finally a specialist told me that I have leukemia, and it kind of went black after that.

    Jack, I was trying to figure how many hours I have spent in a deer blind and it has to be in excess of 8000 hours (very conservative estimate)-but the hunting season here is about 3.5 months. I even figured 5 years of not hunting in there (it was probably more like three) and I have never seen anything that looked remotely like that Piebald deer. I have seen hundreds of coyotes, loads of foxes, mountain lions (although they are about 35-50 pounds here) and bobcats, even a few albino does, but never a piebald. (That was a very unique and awesome picture Cindy).

    I would also have to agree with Cindy on the chiropractor-I would say they are more like miracle workers. I popped a disc loose in my neck one time waterskiing and I had to be pulled out of the lake. I was in blinding pain for about a week and was about to see a specialist and got an appointment with a chiropractor and she popped it right back into place and the pain stopped immediately (not 100%, but you know what I mean). You have to get one that is strong enough or smart enough to make your spine move (or shoulder, etc.) and the relief is better than anything else I have ever experienced. Before I got my spine fused I got chiropractic adjustments and they were 3x better than the useless surgery. Even after the surgery, it (and massage) has worked better for me than any of the thousand pain medications they put me on, so I am a believer.

    Margi, did you ever get your seeds?

    I have started about 20 new kinds of tomatoes since I have to be here until June to see the VA hematologist now-I will post some pictures later.

  • Richard Teague

    Dark Galaxy was the second best tomato this winter behind Bolseno

    Lipstick Peppers from Margi-thanks

  • Richard Teague

    Watermelons, Cantaloupe, tomatoes, sunburst squash

    Cinnamon Basil


  • Jamie

    Oh no, Richard. I am sorry to hear your news but wishing you the best of luck with this.

  • Richard Teague



    Baby Bok Choy

    White Knight Eggplant

  • Richard Teague

    Honeycomb, Black Hybrid, Creole, Slovana pepper, Missouri Pink Love Apple

  • LoneJack Zn 6a, KC

    Richard - I'm very sorry man...that is a tough pill to swallow. I expect to get similar news from a doctor someday as C has taken a large majority of my extended family. Most have been able to put up a good fight and even gone into remission for several years before it finally got them. I hope you can make the best of your garden this year before you move. Up here I wouldn't bother planting much if I were moving in June.

    Looks like your plants are doing well. It's probably time for you to be putting in quite a bit of the garden.

    Cindy and Richard -I might have to look into going to a Chiropractor then. I haven't been to one for years and didn't care for the ones I did go to. I guess it's just like any profession where you have the good and the bad. A guy I work with from Taipei has offered to give me Acupuncture. I think I'll pass on that.

  • cindy_7

    Richard - So very sorry to hear your unfortunate news. Please take care of yourself.

    A total of 19 seeds have broken ground since being planted on the 15th, not quite a full week. The first peppers seeds are up today: Lipstick and Lemon Spice.

    Jack - Didn't you read Epic Tomatoes in 2018??

    There hasn't been another piebald deer here before of after that one that I know of. I knew they were rare, but didn't know how rare.

  • cindy_7

    This photo was taken through the screen. Same deer though.

  • Chris (6a NY)

    Jack - sorry to hear about your back and hopefully it's much better come planting time. Back pain, especially sciatica, really makes things difficult.

    Richard - oh no, I'm so sorry about the bad news. Good luck with everything and I hope that you're able to continue gardening, even if it's minimal. Hope you can find a way to keep your spirits up.

  • LoneJack Zn 6a, KC

    Cindy - I got Epic Tomatoes for Christmas and I took my time reading it. I can't remember if I finished it before Jan. 1 or not.

    Chris - Good to see you pop in! How are your leeks and onions doing?

    This ended up not being sciatica after all. The sciatic nerve runs down the back of the leg and my pain is in the quad muscle on the front. I think this may be worse than true sciatica because it feels like my quad muscle is cramped into a little ball when I walk and it dosen't always calm down once I get off my feet. Nerve pain is the worst!!!

    Richard - I had a C6-C7 discectomy about 15 years ago. I waited too long for the surgery and have some permanent nerve and muscle damage in my left arm because of it. Boy was I in pain the last week before I got it fixed.

  • cindy_7

    Jack - It was my Internist who recommended my chiropractor to me.

    Maybe one of your doctors can also recommend one for you.

  • LoneJack Zn 6a, KC

    Good idea Cindy. My PCP asked me to call him on Friday to report on progress so I'll ask him then if I get to speak with him directly.

  • cindy_7

    I have had a problem with scab on potatoes for a number of years. I was just reading about how to grow potatoes at a Cornell site. Read a few things that I didn't know.

    They said that potatoes prefer acid soil. And soil that is high in organic matter. So, what about using Holly-tone of them? It's for acid loving plants and I already use it on my blueberries and strawberries. Actually all of my berries.


    At one point I was told that potatoes like poor soil. There is quite a bit of clay in the soil here and even though I've been working on it for years, (like 25 years) it still needs more attention.

    I will also be ordering a couple yards of sand in March.

  • itsmce (zone 6b, Kansas)

    Richard - I am so sorry you are having to deal with that bad news! Your garden will be a good diversion. I hope you are able to stick with that as long as you are there. No, I haven't yet seen the seeds. I keep hoping. Maybe tomorrow.

    Jack - Have you/your doc considered a visit to a physical therapist? Maybe I mentioned that previously.

  • Chris (6a NY)

    Jack - yikes! Do you know what might've caused it?

    The onions/chives are growing pretty well. I gave them their first trim this past weekend. I'm holding off on the leeks for a fall crop, so I won't start them until early April.

    I am entering the early part of the window for starting mache, spinach and potentially even peas indoors, for an early transplant. I may wait 1 more week. The way things are looking here, I'd say it will be an early spring. I have to replace 4 beds and add 1 new one, so I'm thinking I'll get that done within the next 2 weeks. Then I'll begin warming up the soil with black fabric, protect them from any new rain or snow with a tarp and prep for planting.

    How are your seedlings doing?

    How are everyone's seedlings doing here??

  • Jamie

    So far all of my seedlings look pretty good- except the tomatillos. They got a little leggy.

    My first pepper to germinate was also a Lipstick. Almost all of the tomatillos have sprouted and so have almost all of my tomatoes. I took the humidity dome off them today and raised the tray a few inches so that they are a little closer to the lights.

    Aside from ornamentals, my thyme, rapini, cardoon, lavender, lemon basil, 2 kinds of chives, mache, red Russian kale and sage have germinated or are just peeking through the surface.

    I have some lettuce, kale, and chard to pot up and hopefully transplant outside soon!

  • PRO
    Len NW 7a

    Medania Spinach seeds arrived today and planted a few in cells to see what happens! Peppers are up and looking good. Most germinated with Lemon Spice and Lipstick leading the pack. Will prick some of those out tomorrow where there are two strong ones.

    The sun was out today so built a crude shelter over bed where peas and lettuce will be planted out. Soil only 37 degrees today :(

  • Richard Teague

    Thanks everybody for the well wishes. Jack is that the surgery where they remove the disc? Did it help? I had a S1-L5 fusion and if anything it made my back worse. It did help the pain I had in my legs.

    Margi, the seeds have been in the mail for at least 5-6 days, so they should be there at any time. Maybe the post office is still recovering from the government shutdown.

  • Kevin Zone 6b - PIT, PA

    Been working (the Real job) a lot lately so haven’t been able to keep up here. Jack - hope you can find some relief.... you need to get that back better because you will have lots of pounds of tomatoes to lift this year!

    Some photo updates.

    spinach sporadic germination:

    Latest lettuce sowing:

    2 week old lettuce:

    transplants that went in under cover last week

  • cindy_7

    Len - You have more snow left than we do!

  • LoneJack Zn 6a, KC

    Chris - No, I don't know what caused my problem. It started with just minor lower back pain and stiffness in late January and stayed about the same until last Thursday when it became severe. I called my PCP yesterday afternoon and reported progress to a nurse. Doctor is supposed to call me back this morning to discuss further treatment.

    My seedlings are doing very well. Leeks and bunching onions are doing great at about 8 weeks. I gave them a haircut on Wednesday and they will need another this weekend. My Bloomsdale spinach was sowed last Sunday but hasn't sprouted yet. I sowed some Escalade spinach that Len sent me on Tuesday. I'll start some Broccoli and lettuce tomorrow.

    Margi -PT may be in my future. I've been doing some streching exercises this week but I'm not sure it is helping.

    Richard - yes they removed the disc and replaced it with a synthetic disc and then put a titanium plate over it. The nerve to my left arm had actually fused into the disc and the surgeon had a tough time seperating the nerve from the disc. They actually went in through the front of my neck for the surgery. The surgery really helped a lot. I was in intense pain prior to the surgery and couldn't function at all for the last week and was taking massive doses of pain killers. I delayed scheduling the surgery until after a big conversion project we had going on at work. I ended up missing all of the conversion project cutover and had to reschedule the procedure a couple weeks earlier. Post surgery I had comparitively no pain, 2 days in hospital, and 3 weeks in a neck brace and off from work. I do still have some nerve and muscle issues in my left arm to this day. I can't deer hunt with a compound bow because I can't hold the draw for more than a few second before my left tricep muscle would start cramping. I got my doctors permission to use a cross bow after that.

    Kevin - Thanks! Your're into full production mode already. I better be back to 90% at least in a couple weeks because I'll be starting to plant cool season crops out by mid March. It was about this smae time last year when Rheumatoid Arthritis started giving me problems and that continued until May when I finally got into a doctor and on RA meds.

    Cindy - I've never amended my soil for potatoes other than adding compost the prior fall. I'm not sure what the PH in those bads is. I think they do fine in a wide range of PH but I be;lieve around 5.8 is optimal. I use garden tone for mine prior to planting and some 12-12-12 a few week after they come up.

    I'm at home again today but I need to get out and run a couple errands this afternoon. Luckily we are going to miss the big snow strom moving through the northern planes this weekend. We are actually supposed to get some thunderstorms tonight and Saturday which shoulld help melting the snow.

  • Jamie

    We have more rain ... which I'm not too thrilled with but it could be worse haha! http://www.memphisweather.net/forecast.shtml

    At least it will be clear on Sunday and I'll be able to get a couple of the garden beds ready for cool-season transplants. I'm also going to direct-seed some kale and collards as well as a first round of carrots.

  • Richard Teague

    Jack, I am the same way with a compound bow. I have to use a crossbow too and I am almost as accurate with it as my rifle and it will shot through a grizzly like cutting paper. It will shoot 20 or 22 inch bolts and I am classified as handicapped and can get a special code to get into certain wildlife areas others can't and I am allowed to hunt from my truck. The problem is that most of these areas have lots of small Game and game birds but really no deer and I have never hunted from a vehicle in my life and won't start now. If I can't make it to a blind I shouldn't be hunting. I frequently hunt by myself, so I have to be able to deal with and butcher the meat (because I am too cheap to pay someone unless I am getting sausage or jerky made. There is a place here that makes the best spicy deer sausage I have seen since my grandparents.). I can usually do okay once I get to the blind-I can still sit for hours-my problem is with standing and I have to be on my knees for the entire cleaning process now. Somehow the pain I get from hunting feels better than from working though. Lol

  • PRO
    Len NW 7a

    Hi, question for the pepper experts. I bottom watered these peppers yesterday afternoon and they feel really dry to me already today. Soil mix is about 50/50 coir and vermiculite with a dash of worm castings. They are fairly close to t5 bulbs so warm in the tray. Should I be watering every day? I bottom water and then take them out so they don't stand in H20.

  • Richard Teague

    Robert Kraft was just charged with soliciting prostitution and the police have video of him with the women. There must be a modicum of justice in this world after all.

  • Richard Teague

    Len, I have been watering all of the plants in the small 6 pack containers and the 3 inch containers every day and they are under the hottest dual T5 and I keep a heater running in there so it I is around 60-70 degrees in there. I have mine on a slightly slanted table so I water the containers to almost full and let any excess water run off into a bucket. The 4 inch containers don't need to be watered every day unless a heat source is drying them out more quickly. It is in the 45-70 range most days now here.

  • Richard Teague

    Len it is almost impossible to overwater pepper plants, especially when they are seedlings. When they are older overwatering makes them a little milder -most are pretty hearty when they are about8 inches tall

  • PRO
    Len NW 7a

    Thanks Richard! Forgot to attach photos

  • naturegirl_2007 5B SW Michigan

    Len, that potting mix sure looks dry. If it gets too dry, it can be hard to rewet...it seems to repel water in some cases. You may have to set the tray into deep water for an hour or more to get it moistened throughout the tray

  • naturegirl_2007 5B SW Michigan

    Richard, I'm sorry to hear your sad news. With good medical care and the joy of growing plants, I hope your body and mind can be well.

  • PRO
    Len NW 7a

    Thanks Naturegirl. I do water by setting in 1/2" of water for 30 to 60 minutes and the mix gets moist at the top. Going to just water daily if they are light as a feather like they were this morning!

    Have been a bit nervous about too much water since my onions were damping off.

  • 14tomatoes_md_7a

    Len -- over-water peppers, under-water tomatoes. Easy rule to remember. Which varieties do you have going?


    p.s. seedlings look great

  • PRO
    Len NW 7a

    Thanks Tony,

    Growing Lemon Spice Jalapeno, Shishito, Ajvarski, Hungarian Hot Wax, Aji Charapita and Lipstick (got that one free with order) Plus Baron Poblano that is not sprouted yet.

  • PRO
    Len NW 7a

    Is anyone growing Espelette pepper? My spouse read about it in Eating Well magazine.

  • Jamie

    No, sir, I don’t think I’ve heard of that variety. What’s lit like, Len?

  • 14tomatoes_md_7a

    Len, sounds interesting, but I'm more interested in the Joe E. Parker chile. Is anyone growing it?


  • PRO
    Len NW 7a

    Jamie the name is patented in Europe...found a couple of sources in US. Interesting side note...these guys https://www.pimentdville.com/ are growing the pepper and selling products under another name. We really should try a few...any other takers?

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