Brrr! And Greenhouse Updates

Sweet Alyssum Hordes

It is 38.5 degrees F outside as I type this — and it’s almost noon! In the North Carolina piedmont in late March, that’s unusual — not unheard of, but unusual.  What is usual, alas, at least lately, is that our precipitation amounts fell far short of the amounts promised by the meteorologists.

In fact, I’ve just about had it with the meteorologists. They stand confidently in front of their maps, showing off their myriad computer models, assuring viewers of weather events about to occur. And — at least for my yard — they are always wrong. I must live in some kind of weather netherworld, because my temperatures average ten degrees cooler, except on very windy days, and my precipitation amounts are a joke compared to the numbers reported for areas just 30 and 40 miles away. I am trying not to be paranoid, but it’s hard not to suspect a conspiracy — at least not on gloomy, cold days like today.

To cheer myself up, I dug my winter coat out of the closet and visited my greenhouse. I was not disappointed by what I saw. The germination chamber in the back of the top photo is full of six- and 4-packs planted with tomato and basil seedlings. I tucked the freshly planted pots into the chamber on March 23, and today, all but one pack has visible seedlings popping up — not bad for a little over three days.

The basils actually started sprouting after two days. I’m growing four kinds. Two are culinary basils, rich in aromatics — pesto magic. They are called Aroma 2 and Nufar. I’m also growing lemon and cinnamon basils this year. If you’ve never tried these, you should. The lemon basil adds a citrus-basil zing to salads and just about anything else you try it in. Cinnamon basils are gorgeous plants, and I find them wonderful in desserts. They dress up everything from vanilla ice cream with fruit to my favorite pound cake recipes. I’m getting hungry just thinking about them.

As for the tomatoes, two varieties are already sprouted and out of the germination chamber. I sowed them earlier, because they require the most days to produce fruit. They are Purple Russian and Ferline. Here they are with Sweet Alyssum and Fernleaf Dill seedlings.

Purple Russian and Ferline & Friends

You may want to click on the above photo and check out the plant in the pot at the top. It’s a Chinese Asarum that I got years ago at a plant auction. That purple-maroon blob beneath the leaves is its very cool-looking flower. The long strappy leaves in the pot are yellow Zephranthes volunteers. This little bulb seems to self-sow very enthusiastically in my greenhouse.

As for the tomatoes just emerging in the germination chamber now, Viva Italia was first and most numerous. But Sweet Treats, and Early and Italian Goliath seedlings are also now well up.  Late to the party is Big Beef, which is still showing no evidence of germination. But it’s only been a few days. I’m not worried.

I described all these tomato varieties in an earlier post here if you want to read more about them. If you’re wondering about the crowd of seedlings beside the tomatoes, those are the Sweet Alyssum seedlings that I never managed to transplant into individual pots. I told you about them previously here. You can see that their enthusiasm has not waned.

The first photo shows some of the Sweet Alyssums that I did manage to transplant. They are big enough to put into the garden, just as soon as I am sure we are past freezing temperatures for good. That will likely be another couple of weeks.

In the meantime, I’ll be watering the seedlings every few days with a dilute mixture of fish emulsion and seaweed extract to help them remain vigorous.

The spring veggies in the garden are also doing well. I’ll update you on those another day.

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  1. Sweet Alyssum: Progress Report « Piedmont Gardener

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