Seeds to Start This Weekend

Posted by Anne Fletcher on

Lovelock lettuce transplants

As a thank you to my brother-in-law who saved my bacon this week, I put together a little care package of seeds that are appropriate to start right now.  We're nearing the end of the main season to put in our summer veggie gardens, but that doesn't mean seed starting season is over.  Far from it!  

I'll give you a list of what I sent him, plus some other ideas for what to start now, but first, a tribute to the power of a well-timed technical support phone call.  (Scroll down to skip the story and go straight to the seeds!)

These last couple weeks, I've been struggling to update the computer system that allows us to track how many pots we make, and what our success rate is.  I couldn't open the program on the computer I'm using now that I'm working from home.  I spent days shopping for alternatives.  I had no idea there were quite so many programs promising to "streamline workflows," "promote collaboration," "integrate tools," and "get in the driver's seat" of my business.  Literally dozens.  But after an exhaustive search (including perhaps some tears of frustration), I found that none of them had the basic functions of our current system, mainly the ability to make it easy for someone making pottery, with clay on their hands, to enter data into a tablet quickly.

So I went back to trying to get the old software onto the new computer, and it's like this:  Is it version 8 JDK?  Or JRE-FX?  And what if it doesn't have a DMG package?  Just do a manual install (whatever that is?) and update my OSX PATH variable, but they've changed ~/.zshrc and .bash recently, and so it's all a mess, even for people who understand what I just wrote (which I still don't, really, but reading those links now makes me chuckle rather than cry). 

So, my brother-in-law the computer scientist came to the rescue.  After kids in both houses were in bed, we talked for about an hour and he sorted it out.  And I learned how to open that scary terminal window in my computer and type "./" to log into the mainframe.  Actually, it just opens a desktop program that connects to the machines at work, but it makes me feel like Matthew Broderick in War Games. Because, check it out:

hacking into the mainframe

And because he's the main gardener at their house, as well as running family IT support, I'm sending him a bunch of my favorite seeds.  Their main crop is already in (tomatoes, corn, collards, herbs), but they've got some space left, and they don't have any salad greens yet.  Here's what I'm sending:

  • Lovelock lettuce:  It's what's in the picture above, and is super delicious.  I have plants at several different stages, to keep the harvests going longer.  It's a loose leaf type which means that you can harvest each plant several times and it will regrow.
  • Merville de Quatre saisons lettuce:  I haven't grown this one to maturity yet, but have some going.  It's famous for staying crisp and mild even in summer heat.
  • Mizuna:  Perhaps my favorite salad green because it's so easy to grow, and produces leaves for a long season.  My spring planted ones are just going to seed now, but I've got a new batch coming behind them.  It's like arugula, but less spicy and lasts longer before it bolts.
  • Provider bush bean:  At this time of year, you can plant all beans directly into the ground and they'll grow fast.  I find bush-type beans easier to manage, but pole beans would be a great choice to plant now too.
  • Straito d'Italia Zucchini:  It's not too late to stick some zucchini seeds into the ground for an abundant crop!
  • Early Green Broccoli:  Broccoli likes a warm start and cool finish.  Starting the seeds now will give an early fall harvest.
  • De Ciccio Broccoli: As above for growing culture.
  • Radicchio de Palla Rosa:  A tasty chicory that can be grown for the head, or simply as a loose-leaf salad green.  Its flavor is bitter, but also quite interesting.  Much milder when cooked.
  • Calendula:  A cheerful, easy to grow flower that brightens up any space.  Edible, medicinal flowers.

Those are all the favorites I sent off to my sister and brother-in-law, but here are some other ideas for seeds to start right now:

  • Biennial flowers:  foxgloves, hollyhocks, wall-flowers, etc.  All biennials are planted this season to flower next season.  Start seeds in pots, and then plant them out to your borders in the fall, in the spot where you'd like flowers next year.
  • Second crops of plants you may already have growing: beans, chard, beets, carrots, basil.  Once your first crop starts to fade, the second will be just coming on.
  • Late-summer annual flowers: cosmos, marigolds, zinnias.  Even if you already have some going, this will help keep your flower beds looking great into the fall.
  • Anything in the squash / cucumber / melon family.  Direct seeded into warm soil, they'll grow fast.
The only thing it's really too late to start from seed are the summer fruiting plants like tomatoes, peppers and eggplants, but now is a good time to get them from a garden center or from a friend who may have planted too many.


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