I’ve already talked to two gardeners who have almost 100 tomato starts. They didn’t intend to grow that many tomatoes. Germination was good and they potted up every one. I should mention, their greenhouses hold about 10 plants. I once knew a gardener who moved out of his bedroom each spring to make room for the poppies he started. He placed his flats on planks set across his bed until it was time to harden off the seedlings.
I should disclose that my weakness is seeds. I’m not going to count the number of kale varieties I have, but I’ll give you some of their names: Scarlet, Rouge, Layla, Merlot, Medusa, Prizm and Roulette. There are a few kale varieties I have crossed off my list. Dwarf Curled Scotch is, indeed, dwarf and this equates to not-as-productive as I think kale should be. Starbor and Winterbor are dwarf. Redbor is dwarf too, but I can’t help but love a kale with bright magenta leaves. Red Russian, not quite as ostentatious, wilts as soon as it’s picked. This is maddening but I still have some seed. I much prefer the better- behaved White Russian.
As you can see, not all kale is created equal. This is my excuse for overindulging. Last year, to keep my preseason garden spending in check, I challenged myself to not buy any new seeds. I planted both flower and vegetable gardens with seed purchased in previous years. I did buy seeds in the fall. I had to be ready for this spring, of course. I fancy the dinosaur kales and added to my collection of seed packets of Black Tuscan, Nero Di Toscana and Lacinato. I purchased Olympic Red, Red Ruffled, Premier Smooth Leaf and a Korean variety, with the only words I can read on the packet, Kale Mat Jjiang.
My friend Jane plants pre-sprouted kale when the ground is thawed but only thawed 1½ inches deep. The pre-sprouted kale is so tiny, it’s not even a seedling. She buries the sprouted seeds and places a recycled plastic container over the top of watered soil. Within a few days, the kale is up and growing, albeit slowly.
I plant peas outside on Easter Sunday. This is regardless of the date on which Easter falls. But just so you don’t think I’m completely off-kilter, I want you to know this is not my entire crop. By the time you read this, the deed will be done. I will have placed a big pot that’s been sitting in a heated garage up against the sunny side of the house. I’ll cover the pot with a row cover, like Reemay, and when conditions are right, my peas will sprout and grow. Robert Service once penned, “There are strange things done in the midnight sun.” He should have been talking about gardeners.
To prevent overplanting, overspending and trying so hard to beat the season, check out the numerous gardening classes being offered by the Cooperative Extension Service, Fairbanks Soil and Water Conservation District, local greenhouses and farms.
Julie Riley is horticulture agent for the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service. She has worked with home gardeners and Alaska’s horticulture industry for more than three decades and joined the Tanana District office this winter. Information on upcoming gardening programs can be found on Extension’s Tanana District website, www.uaf.edu/ces/tanana/. Julie can be reached at 907-474-2423 or firstname.lastname@example.org.