Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Celery and Basil

I started the celery today.   It's "Tall Utah 52-70 R Improved".  Whatever that means.  I chose it because this variety seemed a little more tolerant of weather and disease than others.  We'll see.

I decided to try it a few different ways, since I've never grown celery before.  I have no idea how it's root system develops, so I wasn't sure what type of container to use.

These are old fruit containers.  They're great for starting small, delicate seeds.  Just scatter the seeds, close the lid and you've got an instant greenhouse.  I usually use the shallow ones for starting shallow rooted seeds like lettuce.  I broadcast the seed over the top, then when it's time to transfer to the garden I break up the seedlings into clumps and plant them that way.  In this case, a shallow container got used for celery just because I didn't have much seed starting mix left.  Since I'm new to celery and everyone says that celery seed is temperamental, I figured I'd start some of it in actual seed starting medium....  just to give it a fighting chance.   The deeper container is compost.

I start most of my seeds in compost.  I'm a rebel like that.  My compost is made from horse and chicken manure and straw.  It gets hot, hot, hot.  I'm pretty confident I don't have much in the way of pathogens or weeds in there.  I've been successfully starting seeds in it for years.  Every once in awhile I have trouble getting something to germinate in the compost, which is why I keep a little seed starting mix on hand.

Once my celery seedlings get big enough, I'll thin them and transfer the ones in the shallow container to their own little pots.  I like to use those little red plastic drinking cups for individual seedlings.  I poke a few holes in the bottom, then put them all in a shallow tray.  They're cheap, easy to work with and infinitely re-usable.  Just don't leave them outside, they disintegrate in the sun.  Ahem, not that I've ever done that or anything.

Along with my celery, I started some basil seeds I collected from last years plants.  They'll stay in the sun room to supply me with fresh basil for the next few months, so they get a pretty pot.  I've found deep pots work best with basil, it gets root bound quickly.

In a few weeks I'll need to start the peppers and maybe some lettuce. 

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