Sunday, March 8, 2009

'Spring' planting

Our local big box stores are raring to go, with hardy transplants (standard varieties) of broccoli, cabbage, and collards, as well as romaine, leaf, and butter lettuce (also pretty standard varieties) all just as easy to grow from seed. (At least the seed offerings are much more extensive than they used to be at these garden centers).

The array of tomato and pepper transplants available, as well as squash and cucumber seedlings, is certainly aimed at sales, not success; our average last frost date is April 15, a good 5 weeks from now.

An interesting new twist is offering up pots of arugula (at least they might be hardy), but growing arugula from seed is SO easy, a pot of a few young plants is an impulse buy, pure and simple.

But what really amazed me (I actually bought a pot as an experiment) was a pot of very young leek seedlings. Leeks? In a big box store? Offered by the mainstream purveyor of herbs and vegetable transplants? Hmm, maybe we're making a bit of progress in terms of vegetable varieties, or maybe it's really easy to germinate pots of leek seedlings (probably the latter). To the producer's credit, they have a very nice account of how you should transplant leek seedlings into the garden (suggesting that the ones in their pots would be a MUCH larger size).

They're supposed to be pencil-width by the time you transplant them, so these (having barely got past the cotyledon stage, and sporting seed coats, in some cases) are hardly ready for the outside world. But they were attractive, and obviously I bought a pot.

I transplanted the largest seedlings to several pots of potting soil enriched with compost. It will be interesting to see how they fare. I haven't had any success with leeks before, but I haven't tried very hard either.

I'm sort of remembering that germinating seeds in the summer, and overwintering leeks is the best method in our hot summer climate. But young leeks are tasty, according to the purveyor's website! All I'm familiar with is the huge, woody version in the supermarket, so maybe I'm in for a treat.


  1. I am loving reading about your plant musings. They are very inspiring!!

  2. I transplanted leeks in my Mississippi garden in October, but they haven't grown much over the winter. I'm hoping they take off soon.

    I ordered mine online. Definitely a surprise for a big box store to carry leeks.

  3. Leeks: I've grown them from seed for two years now. The first time, I must have gotten them started a bit earlier because I do recall that most were "pencil" size when I put them out in October. Of course, they didn't grow much until the weather warmed back up a bit and then they did fine. This fall's were about as you describe the ones in the pot you just purchased. Only now are they beginning to show shines of any real growth (gee, at 85 degrees today, what won't!). I'm curious to see if they catch up quickly and mature before it's too hot (like today). If so, probably no need for the fall planting here.

  4. I thought the same thing about the tomato plants I saw at Home Depot this weekend. That's just cruel to do to uninformed gardeners!

  5. I will be watching for reports on your progress. I started red onion seeds for the first time this year. I've purchased red onion seedlings from a local high school spring plant sale last year, and had great luck with them, although not knowing the variety. Leeks would make an interesting future experiment.


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