Friday, 15 April 2011

The wonder of germinating squash

I love this time of year, the spring sunshine, signs of life springing up everywhere and our especially warm spring this year speeding all these activities by leaps and bounds.

Some things are faster and more eager than others... namely squash seeds.  Every year they surprise me at how fast they germinate and they never fail to amaze year after year.  Every child should try germinating squash seeds!  It awakens the child in me every year so it must be extremely exciting through a child's eyes.

This year I've planted 4 varieties and I'm not cautious on the quantities of seeds I am germinating either.  I am a Master Gardener for Garden Organic and as I support and advise 4 community food growing gardens, if I germinate too many for my garden, these community garden groups will be more than happy to take them and give them a home!

Back to the squash seedlings... the seedlings in the picture above germinated in just 3 days, now I think that's really impressive!!!  These guys really have a thirst for life.  If you have kids or want to awake the kid in you, I highly recommend giving the squash chaps a go!

The seedlings in the picture above are "Pattison Blanc" Patty Pan Squash a French heirloom variety available from Real Seeds, here's the link

I am also germinating Heritage Seed Library Zapalliotode Toscana Squash which have dark green to purple fruits with orange pulp
Real Seeds "Striato d'Napoli" Courgettes which grows courgettes with an attractive green stripe
Gem Squash for my South African neighbours from Tozer Seeds and last but certainly not least Real Seeds "Crookneck" Summer Squash

I grew the Crookneck variety last year and just had to do it again - the bright yellow fruit look amazing on the plant:

and taste amazing in your cooking.

The other varieties I listed above I am trying for the first time this year.  Watch this space - progress reports on these will be sure to follow in the coming months.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Hardening tenders off too early?

Is it too early to harden off tender plants?

These tomatoes have been living outside 24 hours a day for the last two weeks.  I would never have thought about trying this before, but I work in a garden centre and the tomato seedlings remain outside all the time there and as it is just up the road from my garden and the tomatoes are stored outside on the north side of the garden centre I thought I would try it at home too.

As I see it, the benefits are that they toughen up earlier in the season, get more light and as we are enjoying unseasonally warm weather and more importantly night time temperatures I thought why not take advantage.  So far so good.  They seem to be doing well, not growing leggy in the slightest as they don't need to fight for the light.  Six of the seedlings are from saved seeds of tomatoes already grown in my garden last year (a cherry tomato and a Roma tomato) and two seedlings are from Garden Organic's Heritage Seed Library

I will be giving them a holiday on a windowsill evening times next week though as night time temperatures look to fall to 4 centigrade and I'm not that brave to see if they can cope just yet and risk losing all my seedlings in one swoop... well I might just test with one extra hardy one to see if they can cope at this tender young age.