January 2011
In This Issue
January Garden Tasks
Planting Pots of Salad
Quick Links
 Dear Reader,

January is an exciting time for gardeners; everything is ahead of us. Now is the time to get organized, ready for the seed sowing in February and March.

On Sunday last, our gardening group organized a seed swap at a local library. Actually, it was more like a seed grab with hundreds of free 2010 seed packets donated by local seed companies, Bounty Beyond Belief and Botanical Interests. I picked up loads of salad varieties and peas. Feeling a bit depressed by not having my greenhouses due to the fire, I decided to make the best use of the sun-room in our new rental and plant many pots of seeds.

I had to start from scratch – no supplies of any kind. It gave me insight into how daunting it is to get all the planting stuff together. This months article springs from that experience. Hopefully it will get you motivated to plant at least one pot of lettuce.

This month, until February 15th, we have discounted both the Bountea 12-Gal Brew Kits and the 12-Gal Refills. Now is the best time to get that extra Brew Kit for your friend or stock up with all you need for spring.

Best Regards,
Roland Evans
Organic Bountea

January Garden Tasks Organizing is the key word for January.

  • Make an inventory of all your supplies.  Purchase or scrounge what you will need.
  • Recycle, gift and discard everything that is outdated or unnecessary.
  • Experiment with different seed varieties, alternative planting techniques and different products.
  • Set up your germination trays and containers with lighting and under-tray warming if needed.
  • Make sure you have plenty of starting mix and potting soil – Humisoil and SuperStart to hand

Seeds Indoors

January: onions, leeks, artichokes, pea greens, fava beans, early tomatoes.  Plant salad greens in large indoor containers (see article below).
February: broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, celeriac, kale, leeks (second sowing), lettuces, Brussels sprouts,

Trees: prune fruit trees and fruit-bearing shrubs, but especially apple and crabapples.  Clear suckers and waterspouts from base of trees.
If you have a dry spell that is above freezing for a few days, soak the ground around your trees and shrubs.  Roots need to be kept moist to survive.

Bountea Compost Tea:  Time to get your Bountea supplies to hand.  It is still too early to treat outside ground with Bountea unless it is unfrozen and workable.  Your indoor plants and pots of would love a dose of Bountea with M3.  Adding a little Root Web at the end of the brew will ensure your plant roots are as efficient as possible.



Planting Pots of Salad

Even the best store-bought organic salad greens taste insipid compared to what you can grow in your home.  It takes a little effort and attention but it is easy once you get everything set.  Here is what you will need:

  • Growing Containers 
  • Growing mix
  • Sand and gravel
  • Seeds
  • Heat and light

Growing Containers

You need some fairly wide containers – 8 inches wide or more.  It is best if they are shallow – deeper ones requires more soil or filler.  I prefer plastic or ceramic pots with built in drip trays, or round 3 inches deep by 15 inches wide plastic drip trays for use under large pots.  Seed starting trays work well: make drainage holes in one and slip it into another to catch the runoff.


This year I got most of my pots from gardening friends and supplemented those with large round drip trays. 

Growing Mix
Unlike simply germinating seeds for transplanting, the soil in your pots determines the nutritional value and taste of your salads.  Use the highest quality organic living compost or Humisoil for best results.  Make sure the mix has added minerals as in SuperStart or M3. 


My own mix is:

The proportions do not need to be exact.  I sift everything through a ¼ inch mesh or plastic colander and mix well.  


Adapt this mix by using peat moss instead of coco coir; coir holds moisture better and is sustainable.  Sand is important for drainage.  Use gritty garden soil in a pinch or builders sand if it is washed.  I scoured the neighborhood and found some good sand and gravel in a creek under a bridge.


Fill the bottom of the containers with sandy gravel to approximately 3 – 5 inches from the top.  The large drip trays do not have drainage holes so a layer of gravel is essential.  Fill the rest of the container with growing mix to a half inch from the top.  Pack gently but firmly.


Seeds and Planting

The easiest option is to buy packets of mesclun mix.  Check the ingredients to see if they are the varieties you like.  Mesclun ingredients can be mild (mostly lettuces), spicy (arugula, mitzuma, cress, mustards), bitter (endive, chicory, radicchio) and leafy greens (kale, chard, cabbages).  Mix your own from seeds you have or simply plant single varieties in each pot. I always plant a large container of peas to harvest their greens.  Pea greens taste mildly pea-like and very green.  Any pea variety will do but snap or snow pea greens taste best.    


Dampen the growing mix and sprinkle with salad seeds so plants grow about ½” apart.  Lightly cover the seeds with mix – no more than 1/8 inch.  If using older seeds sow more thickly to compensate for reduced germination.  For peas, soak overnight and then push each seed ½ inch into the mix about ¾ inch apart and fill the holes.


Once planted, cover the containers loosely with a plastic bag or cling-film until the seeds germinate.  Keep the growing mix damp but never waterlogged. 


Heat and Light
Seeds need heat to germinate: a minimum of 50F with 75F-85F being optimum.  You can purchase a seed-tray heating pad or simply put the containers in the warmest room in the house for a few days.  Do not forget them!  As soon as the smallest leaf emerges, they need to be in the light.


Light can be the biggest problem with growing salads indoors.  They like bright sunlight for a minimum of 6 hours a day.  I am lucky to have a sunroom but enough light may be hard to achieve in some urban homes.  Be creative with extra lighting: adjust a particular spotlight to focus on your plants, use recycled office fluorescents on a rack, purchase aluminum reflector clamp lights and add a full spectrum bulb.  With artificial lighting, you can extend the plants day to 16 hours for faster growth.


Now all your plants need is regular watering and a little TLC.  Of course, they would love some Bountea with M3 to give them a boost.  In a few weeks, you will be harvesting tender, fresh, crispy salads that taste out of this world.

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