I’m always hesitant to broadcast seeds directly into the garden because of the risk of poor germination rates. Granted, previous experience had me neglect seeds sown directly into the beds, which need the right temperature and moisture to thrive. Daytime highs are in the upper 60s while nighttime lows in the high 40s and low 50s. It’s still too cold for some delicate summer plants to tolerate, as some of the starts are beginning to show.
I hedge my bets wherever I can, sowing indoors those seeds that I trust will germinate successfully and can handle transplant.
Seeds I’ve sown and re-sown both inside and out:
Agastache rugosa, Korean Hyssop
Salvia coccinea, Scarlet Sage
Salvia farinacea, Sirius Blue Sage
Monarda citriodora, Lemon Bee Balm
Gomphrena haagena, Strawberry Fields
Tropaeolum minus Nasturtium Black Velvet (presoaked)
The last vegetable seeds I direct sowed beginning of March were the bok choy Tiny Hedou and Purple Lady, along with bunching onions Tokyo White. They are finally beginning to emerge. Meanwhile I’m giving the Thai Long Green Eggplant another try although I haven’t had any success with the last batch.
There are still plenty of work to be done to clear the beds of storm debris and frost damaged plants. But the seed starting bug has already bitten me hard.
End of January, I had already started a batch of veggie soil blocks which include tomatoes, habaneros, bok choy, lettuces, spinach, bunching onions, and eggplant. I was lucky enough to source most of the seed from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, who had them in stock at the time.
I have perennial and annual flowers started in soil blocks as we end February in a flurry of garden prepping.
But of course, there are never enough seeds to start and plant.
I’m not the only one with a gardening bug. Seed companies and online plant purveyors have been hammered by the pandemic demand; most are advertising low inventories and out of stock items. My normal go-to vendors are struggling to keep up with the demand, I’m having a hard time filling out my wish list. Meanwhile, local nurseries are still recovering from the winter storm, so inventories might still be scarce as of this writing.
If I do find something I want, it’s usually through Amazon and I’m highly suspect of the quality. I’m still frustrated by the habanero pepper seeds I obtained through there; germination rates are very low, even after re-sow attempts as we are enter the 4th week since I planted them. I plan on moving them onto my growing stand with the powerful lights to see if that will spur them into germination.
I spotted these seed pods on my variegated milkweed, Asclepias curassavica Monarch’s Promise aka Butterfly Kisses, in late November. This is the first year I’ve seen seed pods on my milkweed and I was highly anticipating seeds from this variety.
My previous attempts to propagate this milkweed from cuttings have ended in failure, and I just want to avoid buying replacement plants next year. The fact that this specific plant is a survivor from a May 2019 purchase makes me want to preserve it even more.
I placed small ziplock snack bags over the pods in hopes of capturing seeds when the pods ripened and burst open.
Alas, it took only one frigid night in December to damage the top growth of the plant and render my collection efforts futile.
Needless to say, I was disappointed to find a pod branch had simply dropped off the plant. I expected the rest of the pods would follow, so I removed them all.
I don’t know if I can collect seeds from these green pods if I let them mature and dry out like some fruits. Google search hasn’t yielded answers on this subject. So I’ll just sit them out on a counter and see what comes of it.
Fenugreek is an annual herb used for its seeds and leaves in Indian, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes. I came across this herb in my attempts to perfect a butter chicken recipe. Its seeds are a base spice in garam masala, a complex spice blend used in curries and marinades.
Fenugreek has been used throughout antiquity as a spice and in medicine. It is so ubiquitous in Middle Eastern and Indian cooking, that the only thing I haven’t seen it used in is dessert.
In my kitchen I tend to add the dried leaves and toasted ground seeds to rubs and curries. However most kitchens will have difficulty accessing this spice unless they have a local Asian market that sells it. It’s not something you find readily at your local grocery store.
I learned of an easy way to produce my own fenugreek. Turns out fenugreek can be easily sprouted from fresh seeds sold in the spice trade.
I picked up a packet of seeds from Amazon in 2016, broadcasted the seeds in a pot, watered, and waited for the sprouts. The seeds remain viable for a long time as long they are stored in optimal condition.
I plan on using the sprouts as a garnish in salads. As soon as weather turns warmer, I may try to grow it in the garden and see how well it does in Texas summers. Hopefully I’ll be able to produce my own seeds to fill up my spice rack.
I made a few more seed purchases from Baker Creek and Amazon! I can’t wait to get these started. Watercress, baby bok choy, Chinese broccoli are Asian greens that I’ve been wanting to try my hand at. Hopefully, these will do well in my stock tank garden.
On a separate note, I do need to replenish my supply of basil seeds, because it seems my current inventory isn’t passing the towel germination test. Alas, I already retried starting them in another batch of soil blocks but it looks like I’ve struck out.
Wishlist: Pesto Perpetuo and African blue basil, both of which are vegetatively propagated. Unfortunately, I had a Pesto Perpetuo that I acquired this year but neglected to take care of. I will have to wait again next year to get a new starter plant.