April 14, 2020

Are Victory Gardens Making a Comeback during COVID-19?

Toni Leland

With the uncertainty of lock-downs, quarantines, and food/supply shortages, Americans are turning more and more to a way of life that carried us through two World Wars.

Read more in my article in The Norwich Bulletin (Connecticut)

kitchen garden at home

March 27, 2020

Starting Your Seeds Early While Cooped Up at Home

Toni Leland

As the world stays at home to contain the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), the seasons wait for no one. This might be a perfect time to start your vegetable and flower seeds so they'll be ready for planting time.

I'm not doing a vegetable garden this year, but I do plan to plant some Gourmet Kale 'Purple Moon' from Renee's Garden.

For my flower gardens, I chose Scented Sweet Peas 'Fire and Ice,' Morning Glory 'Early Call,' Heirloom 'Fragrant Moonflower,' Mounding Nasturtiums 'Cup of Sun,' 'Scented Gold Wallflowers,' Heirloom Buttefly Zinnia 'Polar Bear,' and Bouquet Zinnia 'Berry Basket,' also from Renee's Garden.

Tip: write the planting month(s) on the front of the seed packets to avoid having to read the directions each time.

Using trays of peat pots arranged into a little greenhouse type set-up, the potting soil goes in, gets wetted thoroughly, and you are ready to start putting those seeds in. You can also use peat pellets to start some seeds saved from previous years that may or may not still be viable. To check on that, read my post on germination testing.

Finding a warm spot with plenty of light can be the challenge in many homes. 

Seeds just naturally want to sprout, so what could go wrong? (she said)

Starting too early produces seedlings that are weak and spindly because the light and temperature are not adequate. Seedlings stretch to reach as much light as possible, and they end up with long stems that won't support the plant.

Damping off is another worry. Granted, seedlings need to be kept well moistened, but they can rot at the soil level and all the waiting and watching is for naught. Use new clean, sterile potting soil and don't overwater.
trays of seedingls
Seedlings up!
Once the seedlings are ready to transplant to the outdoors, there's another step: hardening off. These babies have been indoors and tenderly cared for since sprouting. Plonking them outdoors will be too much of a shock and they'll collapse. Gradually acclimate seedlings to the outdoors by placing them in a shaded sheltered spot on a warm, bright day, just for a few hours for a few days. Bring them inside at night.

Good luck with getting ahead of the gardening game!