Obsessive Seeding Disorder (O-Seed-D)

IMG_2000Hello, I am a gardner and I have a problem. Whew, what a relief to get that off my conscience!  But I actually do not want any help getting over my condition, in fact I hope it is contagious! I wouldn’t call it an addiction, per se, I could stop if I wanted to (ha!), more of a vice (because I choose to spend many hours during my week thinking about seeds).  My husband refers to it as my obsession.  Obsessive Seeding Disorder. Guilty!

Because our growing season in Nova Scotia is roughly 20 weeks frost-free, a lot of thought has to go into what seeds I will plant, how and when they will be started and where they can be planted without getting devoured by wild life once outside.  Thankfully, Nova Scotia has a fairly large collection of gardeners who share my O-Seed-D affliction and there are many good resources to help with the daunting task of picking the right variety of seed!  I have found kindred spirits and had great conversations in the church nursery, at my daughter’s basketball games, over a glass of wine at bonfires down the street, during “meditation” time in yoga class and even during the odd moment of down time at work (I would say don’t tell my boss, but I think he is part of the club).  I have been surprised by some of the people that speak up when the topic of seeds pops up – there are many closet gardeners you would never suspect!

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My seed box and seeding journal…sigh…so beautiful!

Seed planning for this year started with seed planting last year.  I have a small journal that I keep notes in from year to year with planting dates and techniques used.  I track germination rates, successes and failures.  I make notes about what I started far too early, too late and which varieties were a complete flop so as not to repeat the same mistake twice.  Einstein proved his brilliance when he said “The definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over and expecting different results…” That said, I often forget this quote and black out a bit when I pull out my trays – my obsession takes over and it seems entirely reasonable to start 100 tomatoes when I can only actually fit 20-30 plants in my garden! I also have a specific seeding calendar (one of the many charity ones that come in the mail) for tracking planting dates for inside and out.  I find this method using the calendar a quick and easy way to keep myself on track without too many fancy spreadsheets or by trying to keep seed packets sorted by starting dates.

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Annual Family Seed Organizing Event – (my gardening minions get to vote and veto what they didn’t like last year). Only the favourites get to go into the box and on the list for this year!

I am not a psychologist or geneticist, but I am quite certain that this condition is genetic.  My grandmother always had far too many seedlings for the amount of pots she could plant and my girls are exhibiting the same quirks to which I simply cannot say no.  Just last weekend my wee girl and I were going to seed just 12 jalapeños and 12 munchkin broccolis so they would be ready to plant out in the early tunnels. Fail.  I gave her the scoop and seed starting mix, turned my back to bleach few more cells left over from last year (to make sure there were no diseases to spread) and before I knew it I heard her counting “22, 23, 24, 25…” of each!  Some celery also managed to find it’s way into trays, and some lavender, and some columbine (because we saw those at the store and thought we may not be able to live without them any longer), and some chamomile (because we weren’t sure how we managed to live without them until now), and some Black Eyed Susans (because how could we go on living with such an unfulfilling ditch)……….you get the picture. Just one more reason to add to my list of the thousand reasons I love that little girl!

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See?! I am not alone! Thanks for the support Green Sparrow Gardens!

Selecting the variety of seed can be overwhelming – this is where seed catalogues and a support group come in.   I try to use Canadian seed as much as possible, and preferably grown by sources from the maritimes to ensure the best chances for my Nova Scotia garden.  Each catalogue has planting guides and friends who have been in “the club” for much longer than I have shared their wisdom and extra seeds freely. I have discovered some delicious veggies that I would never have tried myself simply by spreading my roots and soaking up any borrowed wisdom that comes my way.  Somehow, even reporting back how a new veggie is doing has strengthened some great relationships with truly wonderful people.

I select seed for many reasons – storing, freezing, drying, overwintering, canning.  It all started as a small summer garden in my first house and over the years has grown into…well, alright, I admit it, an obsession!  Anyone who wants to join my club is more than welcome, there is always room for more in my garden, even if I run out of space under my lights!

This is the seeding guide from Halifax Seed  and my calendar and for this year:imageimageimageimage image   

This is my veggie list for this year (sorry about the printing):

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These are my new picks (so far) for this year:

Veggies:

Peppermint Swiss Chard (Halifax Seed) – Thanks Niki!

Sub Arctic Plenty Tomatoes (Still looking…) – Thanks Brenda!

Green Envy Cherry toms (Burpees) – Thanks Wendy!

Black Plum Tomatoes (Still looking) – thanks Margeurite!

Sicilia Violetto Cauliflower (Suttons), Tonya’s Pick Pod beans (Annapolis) and Purple Sun Carrots (Suttons) for the “Purple bed”

Celebration Squash (Veseys)

Gonevese Basil (Gusto Italia)

Market Express Baby Turnip (Halifax Seed) – Never thought of turnip tops before last year – Thanks Deborah!

Flowers

Rudbeckia – Just for Debbie! (Hope Seeds)

Columbine – thanks for posting that picture last year Selena! (McKenzie)

Climbing vine and Ladybird Cream Purple Spot Nasturtium (McKenzie)

German Chamomile (Burpees)

Perennial Dianthus (from our own seed)

Have a look at the Borrowed Wisdom section for my favourite East Coast Resources

” An addiction to gardening is not at all bad when you consider all the other choices in life” ~ Cora Lee Bell

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The flower baby stork arrived!

Instead of a rambling…ahem…memoir, this is a quick, excited “garden gush”!

My wee girl was checking up on her seed babies last night and found many had germinated all ready (they are quite tiny and hard to see in photos, but about 80% are up)!  A little happy dance ensued…

Tenny, tiny perennial dianthus the stork delivered last night

Teeny, tiny perennial dianthus the stork delivered last night.

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The first of my little girl’s pink and white petunias have poked up from their nest! Only 4 days since they were seeded in the incubation station.

Mama’s sweet basil and opal basil germinated in 3 days on the heat mats. My happy dance was not nearly as cute…

” Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant.” ~ Robert Lewis Stevenson 

Little hands, little seeds, very little patience

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I love these little hands.  They never cease to amaze me.  They create a never ending flurry of love notes and drawings as gifts for anyone who ventures by.  They are constantly seeking out snuggles and touches.  They pray. They draw, paint and crochet long chains of whatever she imagines her creations should be that day (hairbands, necklaces, handcuffs…). They love to be sticky making the perfect cookie and can cut veggies and fruit for that perfect snack!  And, just like every little person I have ever known, these little hands can pick and pester. They can swipe clothes and smuggle away other treasured items from her big sister’s room.  They can also spill and, oh boy, can they make messes!  As time has passed these little hands have grown and changed as they have acquired new skills – from trying to pick up little pieces of toast and getting that spoon into her mouth to pulling the puppy’s hair and manipulating board games pieces.

imageBut because these sweet little hands belong to a little person, they are very impatient!  That could also be a function of being my child as well…I am not known for being patient. Last February, we bought a number of annual flower seeds for our first attempt at growing flowers from scratch indoors.  We have always had great luck with direct seeding sunflower seeds and poppies once the soil warmed up, but indoor annual growing proved to be a lot of work with a relatively poor outcome.  Or so I thought. Only about 10% of our seeds ever germinated, despite my little’s ones best efforts to urge them on.  She used my heat mats, moisture domes and a little grow light she picked out for her very own room.  She spritzed them and spoke to them lovingly.  She bounced around waiting and waiting for the little seeds she had meticulously nestled into her starter soil to poke up.  When a few of them finally did, she let me transplant them into cells (her little hands were not up to this delicate task yet…).

As the days warmed up, she hauled her two trays of seedlings in and out every morning and evening to harden off.  Finally, in early June, she very carefully placed her flower babies into the shiniest, prettiest pots she could find.  She also filled my deck boxes and planters.  When she wasn’t looking, I added a few stuffers, but I got caught and was not allowed to add anymore flowers.  These little plimageants looked pretty sad.  Being a little particular myself, I really had to bite my tongue and keep my own hands still so as not to “aid” in her accomplishments.

However, once outside, my darling girl would not give up.  She continued to water and deadhead.  She even sang and danced for her flower babies (it was really stinking cute!).  She named quite a few of them. She proudly pointed out each and every flower she started from seed to everyone who visited. In no time, the pots, planters and deck boxes were the most beautiful we’d ever had!  I guess it was me who also needed some patience.

As the cool fall weather came, she started to collect the seed heads and store her little seeds in a binder I was given as a gift from Lee Valley.  I stored it away in the cabinet for the winter and had pretty much forgotten about them until other day.  Her big sister was off at one of her many sporting events and we were looking for something to do that did not involve being plugged in.  Her little mind very quickly went to her seeds…

imageAlthough it is really quite early to be starting seeds, I didn’t think it would hurt to start a few trays of slower growing flowers, herbs and leeks (flowers included petunias, coleus, black eyed susan vines and coneflowers.) We found some old starter soil and earthworm castings and went to work.  We had been saving tomato, peach, strawberry and lettuce containers to try as seedling trays to save money this year, so out they came as well. They seemed to work well because they had drainage holes in them already and the clear covers act like mini greenhouses to hold in moisture, saran wrap enveloping the other nests.  We filled each tray with about 2 inches of soil, her little hands watering and stirring until moist (and very messy). Each little seed was gently tucked in under a fine layer of earthworm castings.  She found it quite funny we were playing with worm poop! The heat mats and an old coffee table have been transformed into an incubation station in the living room in front of a sunny window.  As a final touch, those sweet little hands wrote out tags for her seed babies, last year’s flower’s babies.

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And as I am watching my baby’s little hands grow and change far too quickly, she will try to wait patiently while watching her little seed babies lay down roots and grow.

“In every gardener, there is a child who still believes in the seed fairy.” – Robert Brault