This is the time of year when gardeners are getting serious about planting seeds, whether indoors or outside in the garden. Usually it’s also when new seed orders are placed.
I especially cherish this time of year, because my “early” planted seeds have begun sprouting. Here in western Pennsylvania, I start Lavandula angustifolia(usually ‘Hidcote’, my favorite Lavender) and Leeks in January, as they need the extra months to grow to planting out/selling size.
Going through my seed collection, I came across this seed viability list and think it might be helpful to other gardeners. It is a partial listing, so I’d be interested to hear from any of you with experience with other seeds, especially Herb seeds.
First thing I do, when I purchase seed packets, is write prominently on the package that particular year, for future reference. And I always store all seeds in a refrigerator bin. This keeps them chilled and just moist enough, ensuring best future germination and strength.
I also group seed packets in plastic bags according to when they need to be planted: Fall/Jan., Feb., Mar. 1, Mar. 15. April 1 and 15, May 1 and 15. Those seeds which need planted directly in the garden are also grouped in the bag with seeds needing to be started indoors. I just note ‘outside’ on the packets.
Last summer my kids and I constructed a tall teepee trellis for my Kentucky Wonder green beans. This Spring, around St. Patrick's Day, I plan to plant Oregon Giant peas on that teepee. Planting peas and onions on or about St. Patrick's Day is a tradition here in western Pennsylvania. There is nearly always a significant (2" or more) snowfall after that, we call 'the onion snow'. Once my pea plants have yielded all they will, I'll plant the bean seeds to re-adorn the teepee.
1 year: chive, leek, onion, parsnip, rosemary, shallot, sweet corn
2 years: okra, parsley, popcorn
3 years: anise, asparagus, bean, caraway, carrot, chervil, coriander, cow pea (black eye), dill, fennel, lima bean, pea, pepper, soybean, tomato
4 years: beet, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, collards, cress, kale, kohlrabi, mustard, New Zealand spinach, pumpkin, radish, rutabaga, spinach, squash, Swiss chard, turnip
5 years: celeriac, celery, citron, collard, cucumber, eggplant, endive, gherkin, lettuce, mushroom, muskmelon, salsify, watermelon
I don’t usually discard ‘old’ seeds, unless that variety of plant has fallen out of favor. I just plant MORE of them, to be sure enough sprout for my harvesting needs.
More thoughts on gardening
I acquired this impressive plant in mid-June 2015, at the Harmony Garden Fair. The lady who sold them is on a mission to preserve these somewhat rare plants, and propagates them to share. It is considered to be less common than Jack-in-the-Pulpit She originally found plants at Camp Silver Lake in Marion Township, Beaver County, Pennsylvania.
Its common name derives from the long spadix borne above the spathe, reminding us of a dragon's tongue.
"Green Dragon" enjoys rich, moist woodland or stream-side conditions, well-drained. It prefers part shade (not deep shade or full sun) in alkaline, neutral or acidic soil. I hope I can place my plants in a moist enough site, as there is no stream on my property - but I do have shady woodland conditions. It's good to know that the plant can adapt to dry soil, I assume in the shade.
It is hardy in USDA zones 4 through 8. Each plant can grow up to 3 feet high by about 1 and 1/2 feet wide. The leaf is as follows: one leaf forked into 5 to 15 lance-shaped leaflets on a horse-shoe shaped frond. Green Dragon blooms in western Pennsylvania in late May to early June. Flowers are tiny white to pale yellow or green, upon a spadix, inside a hooded spathe. Plants are dioecious, meaning each plant is either male or female, but not on the same plant, and they are not able to self-fertilize. To propagate by seed, there must be two plants, one of each sex. They are pollinated by flies. The flower (immature green seed head closeup shown here) develops into orange-to-red berries
The root can be used as food, but CAUTION - it contains calcium oxalate crystals. These cause 'needle-prick' pain in the mouth and must be boiled or dried before eaten.
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