Mary's Veggie Garden

April 4, 2020

Early April in the Hudson Valley Vegetable Garden 4/4/2020

Filed under: Lettuce,Peas,Radishes,Vegetables — marysveggiegarden @ 5:19 pm
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Daikon radish ‘April Cross’ planted 3/24, emerged 4/4.

I’ve started outdoor planting! March 24 I sowed the seeds of snow peas, spinach, salad radishes and daikon radishes. Today I planted sugar snap peas, daikon radishes and komatsuna. Turnip and beet seed will be sown by 4/15. All these crops can be direct sown and they thrive in the cool weather of spring. For very detailed directions on planting peas see http://www.leereich.com/2020/04/covid-19-or-not-the-garden-marches-on.html . The directions apply to snow and snap peas as well as shelling peas.

After planting the peas, I placed fencing flat on the ground to prevent squirrels from digging for the nuts they buried last autumn. After the peas sprout this piece of fence will be placed upright as the trellis.
Seed Germination boxes aka plastic storage boxes keep seeds moist while sprouting.

My germination box is always full. As soon a pot of seeds sprouts, it is placed under the grow lights and replaced by a newly sown vegetable. The germination boxes currently contain peppers, more peppers, a second planting of kohlrabi and bunching onions. In a week I’ll start the tomatoes and a few tomatillos.

I’ve started hardening off my cool weather transplants so each day they spend a bit more time in the sun and a bit less time under the grow lights.

Seedlings for transplanting 4/15-5/1, starting with the lettuces in the upper center and right.

March 24, 2020

Thinning Your Seedling Transplants

Filed under: Kale,Onions,Vegetables — marysveggiegarden @ 12:55 pm

Thinning is the process of removing plants to achieve proper spacing. Thinning is done for most vegetables started as transplants and for many direct sown vegetables. Today my focus is on thinning transplants.

Why thin? Typically when sowing seeds for transplants we sow more than one seed per cell or pot. The extra seeds guarantee there is at least one plant per cell, particularly if the seed is not brand new. However, if most of the seeds germinate the overcrowded plants will be competing for light, water and nutrients, resulting in smaller, weaker plants.

Mix of Siberian and Russian kales. Seed started 3/2.

Which plants should be removed? First I snip off small, weak, or deformed seedlings. Next I remove seedlings growing at the edge of the pot because their roots can grow only on one side.

In the kale above, 10 new seeds were planted. One did not germinate. One cell had 3 plants so I removed the smallest a week ago, leaving 2 plants/cell. Kale is a vigorous grower with each plant requiring its own space. It is now (past) time to thin down to one plant/cell.

In the next picture the black circles indicate the plants I will snip off. In the top right cell the plants are almost identical, so I chose to remove the plant closer to the edge. In the bottom right cell, one plant is clearly smaller.

The seed was a mix of Siberian and Russian kales. The mix shows in the plants on the left. On the bottom left both plants are vigorous, but I think that frilly leaves provide less for eating so I selected the frilly plant for removal. However I want at least one frilly plant so I’ll snip the non-frilly plant from the top left.

3/23 Black circles outline plants that will be removed.
3/23 Kale seedlings after thinning.

I thinned the plants by snipping each stem at it’s bottom with scissors. This does not disturb the roots of the remaining plant. Snippings of edible greens can be eaten.

These kale plants are developing their first true leaves. It is time to start fertilizing. I use a very dilute solution of fish or seaweed fertilizer. I mix the fertilizer at half the concentration recommended for house plants and bottom water with the solution every 4-7 days, more frequently as the plants get bigger.

Thinning notes:

  • Lettuce is a small plant, so I sometimes leave 2 plants in a cell if both are vigorous and if they are separated by at least 1/4″. To get well-shaped mature lettuce bunches separate the two plants when transplanting outside. Harvest will be a bit later but that can be an advantage by spreading the harvest over a longer interval.
  • Onions are never thinned. Instead separate the plants at transplanting time and space 4″ apart in the garden. Weak, undersized plants can be discarded during the transplanting.
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