It’s time for a “state of the garden” post! It was March 26th, 2016 that we planted our first seeds of the season with parsley, rosemary and petunia’s going into the trays. We’re currently about seven weeks out to last frost, so things are heating up literally and figuratively. The spare bedroom/office where we’re running our indoor nursery has forced us to crack the window more than a few times all ready! Nonetheless, we’ve been sowing new seeds every weekend since that last weekend in March.
We’re actively running five trays at this point with the latest additions to the nursery this weekend. Our plan calls for six total 72-site trays, for a total of 432 plant sites, so at this point we’re well over 50% of planned capacity. Our flower tray is filling up quickly as well, reaching over half full as of today and we should have all our flowers going by next weekend. One more tray will be added here in a couple weekends and we’ll be up to 100% capacity in the nursery with five weeks remaining to last frost. That will be an exciting time for us as we’ll hopefully have a lot more things figured out with our gardening space.
So far, we’re seeing very decent germination rates with quite a few varieties approaching 100% success. Some of our best starts so far include our various onions, flowers, leeks and a good handful of others. Using the humidity domes and running a somewhat warm nursery sure does help to boost your germination rates through the roof! We’ve been very pleased with this setup from a nursery perspective and it’s proving itself yet again this year.
The hibiscus aggressively reached for the lights, our largest starts by far, coming in at about 3 inches in height just a single week after germination. This is also our only plant to show signs of its second set of leaves! This is always a fun plant to sprout and will be an experiment this year since we can’t find a ton of information about growing it in the area. The broccoli is also showing aggressive sprouting characteristics, coming in second place for size and speed.
Our biggest troubles so far are pretty much as expected. Our parsley, cilantro and rosemary haven’t yet germinated and we’re slightly concerned we may not have success this year. Rosemary is just a pain to grow from seed with germination rates approaching 5% anyway. As for the cilantro, we were using seeds from last year and it’s somewhat common that 1-2 years is the best you can expect from these seeds. As for the parsley, we have no idea what’s going on. We replanted on April 4th, just to try and get something going, but still haven’t seen a single sprout. We’ve had great success with all these varieties in years past in virtually the exact same nursery setup, so we’re still not quite certain what’s making these difficult this year. Probably just issues with the seeds we have because we didn’t follow our own advice of testing our germination, instead favoring just to plant and see what happens.
We’ve had to adjust our planning a little bit so far this season to accommodate a few desired changes. We really wanted to figure out how to get our chives and green onions a good start, so we adjusted some quantities around to have these in the nursery. We also left a little bit of room in our planning efforts for the unexpected and planted ground cherries this weekend. This will be another experimental project in the Fairbanks area, because again, there’s very little information on how they’ll do in cold climates. The ground cherries don’t yet have a place in our garden, but we’ll accommodate them once we know our gardening space and how many of our starts were successful. We can always move things to containers, particularly herbs, if we want to make room for other things.
We’re trying to avoid what happened last year. We added a new lamp last year, our 8-bulb 4 foot CFL, and it’s just a monster when it comes to producing starts and supporting early plant growth. We weren’t expecting such levels of success and therefore planted more than we needed and experienced growth rates much higher than expected. We put a lot more thought into this year’s nursery, mainly because we don’t have many options to put plants outside when there’s still snow on the ground and freezing temperatures overnight. So far, the plan is working out!
We’ll likely be doing another state of the garden update here in a couple weeks, once we’ve sowed 100% of the planned starts for this year. It’s going to be a crowded table! In the mean time, we will probably focus on a few more information posts, updates to our birch syrup harvesting and possibly a few other thoughts we have in mind!