Garden Daybook 1/31/13

I had forgotten that I put eight hazelnuts into the freezer last fall – October 3, 2012 to be exact. This week I was organizing our small freezer and discovered the baggie. Because I had the presence of mind to label the baggie with contents and starting date, I didn’t have to guess what the heck I found. The hazelnuts had been in the freezer for almost almost four months and I thought that was probably long enough to properly stratify them so . . . . I let them come to room temperature, unbagged them and . . .

hazelnuts from freezer

potted them up in a 5 inch deep pot. I labeled the pot with the date they were put into the freezer and the date they were potted up. I used the deep pot because I know that plants send down roots before any green appears above ground, and that trees and shrubs send down deep roots when they germinate and need lots of root room. The pot is in my warm germination unit. Hopefully, at least a few of the nuts will germinate. I have this vision of a mature row of hazelnuts and baskets of nuts. I am already collecting ideas for using the nuts . . . yummy things like homemade Nutella, Hazelnut Brittle, Hazelnut Chocolate Brownies, Yogurt with honey and toasted hazelnuts. If ever I live so long I’ll have nuts, nuts, nuts!! The green pot in the picture appears to be empty but just maybe it contains the beginnings of my future hazelnut grove.

By the way, giving the nuts the cold treatment is called stratifiction. Stratification helps the seed break dormancy meaning it sends down roots and sends up shoots.

hazelnuts in pot

Look closely at the label in the pot. I take apart broken window blinds and save the “strips’ for homemade plant markers. The strips can be easily cut with scissors into usable lengths. Many articles on seed starting suggest using popsicle sticks for labels but I find that the wood absorbs water and any writing becomes illegible. Plastic strips from window blinds hold the writing well.

window blind plant markers

This years’ ‘Tango’ celery was seeded January 14 and put into my bottom heat unit. Germinate began a week later on January 21. Only a few seeds were showing germination so I gave them another day over the bottom heat then moved them to the germination unit. Seed by seed they are still germinating. The first tiny leaves are called cotyledons and were inside the seed. I know that the tiny plants will not need fertilization until the second set of leaves show themselves. The seedlings are a mere inch or less away from a two bulb flourescent light. The fluorescent light fixture is plugged into a timer set for fifteen hours.

celery seedlings

The onions that were seeded on January 14 are growing strongly and are ready for their first haircut. The black ‘dots’ hanging from the top of many of the seedlings are the original seeds. The seedlings have been under fluorescent lights for 15 hours a day since they germinated and they are gorgeous!

onion seedling untrimmed

I use scissors to trim the top third of the seedlings to encourage strong root growth. You can see the trimmings on the table in front of container. The best part of trimming the seedlings is the fresh onion smell they emit when they are cut. The trimmed seedlings are put back under the lights. At this point I begin to fertilize the seedlings with half strength fish emulsion every 10 days.

onion seedlings trimmed

It may be snowing outside but the smell of my trimmed onions makes spring seem closer. I hope you are at least ordering your seeds and planning your garden on paper. Spring seems to take forever to get here and then one day, BOOM, you open the door and it hits you smack in the face – ready or not. It’s more fun to be ready. Get moving!

Hey from the farm,
Fran The Country Cousin

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