Tiny Little Pieces of Life

I got my seeds today!

Seeds … tiny little pieces of life, stored until spring arrives to awaken them.

It is this miraculous life that makes them so attractive to gardeners, especially after a long, cold winter. Each seed has its own set of requirements hardwired in them. It is up to the gardener to provide those requirements so the seed will germinate.

Some need warm, moist soil – but not all. Pea seeds need to have a zero-degree temperature in order to germinate. That is why they seem perfect to grow in the Yukon. In fact, you could brush aside the snow in early spring and put the pea seed in the ground and it will grow.

Other seeds can also be planted, even while there is the danger of frosts. Most root crops, leafy greens and brassicas are able to withstand the early frosts.

If the seed package says to plant as soon as the soil can be worked, don’t wait until the last frost date in June. We have such a short season here that every day and week counts. If the soil can be worked, be it late April or early May, then the seed should be planted.

Every year is different. Some years I have been able to plant as early as the last week in April, and the garden did well. However, some plants, no matter how early we plant, don’t seem to have enough time.

Parsnips are one of those.

In 2007, I decided to try planting parsnips and garlic in the fall. The following spring I very eagerly waited to see if anything would emerge.

I was not disappointed.

The parsnips had not only survived the winter under the snow, but they were also sprouting before the garden was dry enough to work. Needless to say, they were a success. The garlic on the other hand … well, there was no sign of them anywhere.

When a plant is acclimatized to an area, it will “program” traits, needed to thrive, into the seed it produces. Over time, those new plants will show a hardiness to things that would have greatly affected the parent plants.

When spinach gets too much sunlight, it starts to bolt, making the leaves less tender and less desirable. Two summers ago, I allowed my spinach plants to go to seed. I wanted to see if they would “volunteer” the next season.

When spring came, there didn’t seem to be anything growing where the spinach had been the previous year, so we tilled the garden as usual.

In the process of tilling, we inadvertently dragged those spinach seeds all over the garden. They germinated and we had spinach growing everywhere. The interesting thing of it was, this spinach didn’t bolt as quickly as spinach planted from fresh seed, meaning that this seed was more able to withstand the longer days that we have.

I have allowed this spinach to go to seed again. I am hoping to be able to get a spinach plant that will be able to produce without bolting too early or at all.

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