A few days of warmth and finally it feels like we're heading towards spring. It also helps that I have started the first few seedlings for the farm and they are finally up! Spoiler alert: these next few pics will mostly look like dirt.
I have never grown cardoons before (pictured above), but I I have grown artichokes, which are similar. They are normally grown in areas with mild winters, but I am giving them an early start in the hopes that they will mature by the time fall arrives. Supposedly they are huge, sturdy plants, but that is hard to imagine at this point. They do look like sturdy seedlings though!
Chives and other allia always look like grass when they first come up. Somehow, magically, the bent over threads will right themselves and then multiply in a matter of weeks. Although their growth will seem fast, I have to come to the realization that most of the herbs I am starting this year will not be ready for harvest until next year. What a bummer, but I guess the wait will be worth it.
All of my little seeds will be getting a head start in the newly built germination box:
Basically this is an insulated box with a shelf, two light bulbs (the old fashioned incandescent kind), and a thermostat in the back. The thermostat controls the light bulbs which are actually used for their thermal quality, not their luminary. They can heat up the box to a toasty 80 degrees F in a matter of minutes. The aluminum flashing keeps the trays from getting too hot. I bought everything but the thermostat at the local hardware store and except for a small snafu (not enough glue), I was finished in a day. In this handy contraption, seeds will jump from the soil in less than half the time it would take sitting on your kitchen counter (and anyways, my stuff already takes up too much space on the kitchen counter). A higher percentage will germinate as well, close to 100% for most plants. If anyone is interested in building one, let me know. It runs on a normal house circuit doesn't use much more power than a lamp.
Over the next few weeks the days will be filled with seeding, thinning, potting up and perhaps even getting the first few seedlings out to the cold frame. Then it really will be spring!