What’s the difference between these starter plants? One set is the extremely slow, meek looking batch of sprouts that I planted myself, the other are robust, ready-for-action beasts I got from the Farmer’s Market. I’m a terrible person.
In real terms, it’s been spring for roughly three months now and I can’t really afford to wait any longer to get the goods planted. Phase one: the beasts. Phase two: the midgets.
This strategy may have a hidden benefit. If some horrible blight hits the beasts, a later, additional planting might avoid it altogether. See what I did there? I’m not so bad after all!
In this batch of beasts: Black Prince and Green Zebra tomatoes, “Classic” eggplants, and some fancy cinnamon and osmin basil (which is so flavorful, it’s purple).
Along with some exceptional birthday love, my mom sent me a seed catalog: “Thought this might wet your appetite!”
If you’re a psycho like me, there’s a good chance you did your seed research months ago (possibly on the toilet) while flipping through seed catalogs and making mental notations. If you’re a normal person maybe you’ve only just started to think about what you’re gonna plant in the next couple of weeks. Lucky for you, winter refuses to fuck off around here and there’s still time to pull it together. Pull it together man!
I’d like to recommend ordering your goods from the Hudson Seed Valley Library, a place dedicated to “creating an accessible and affordable source of regionally-adapted seeds.” These guys have gone way out of their way to gather and maintain a literal seed library of New York regional heirlooms; we’re talking strange local favorites handed down from gardener to gardener that seem to do really well in this climate. Unusual and locally adapted, just like Panthy.
As unique as the seeds are the Art Packs designed by local artists; take this little beauty for example:
Once you’ve picked out your Sugar Baby Watermelon or your Ragged Jack Kale, consult this super helpful seed starting schedule Seed Starting 101: Garden Notes for Seedy Folks. Perfect. Now get to it!
Like my man Fred from 80s Dunkin Donuts fame, I’m about to get enthusiastic about my favorite duty of the day: killing seedlings.
Despite going away for a week, leaving the seedlings with my co-workers to water, and bouncing them around on the 2 train twice, they look pretty good, pretty damn good! A few of the onion sprouts got a wee bit demented on account of some fungus. Happens to the best of us.
But now I need to trim the herd and cut down the weak fellas, only one per poop satchel allowed. It’s no time for emotion, just time for tiny scissors and careful hands. Snip, snip, snip.
The season has barely begun and I’ve already created the world’s most pretentious salad! These aren’t baby greens, these are INFANT greens. HEIRLOOM INFANT GREENS. Button your top button and imagine yourself ordering this as an appetizer:
“Yes, I’ll start with the Heirloom Infant Greens Salad, followed by the grass-fed brazed cow head soup.” Sounds good right?
These sprouts will never know the feeling of bearing one fruit all summer and having exactly one bite taken out of their precious flesh by a squirrel. I should bring these over to Brooklyn Larder and charge them 50 dollars for the very privilege of even thinking of selling them!
Or I’ll just put them in the composter.
Hold onto your damn hats, it’s the ubiquitous “my seeds are growing!” shot. Boom! There it is: a little tiny onion sprout, enjoying the lush, nutrient-rich growing medium probably intended for growing pot. My onion cartel is just getting started, and you’re here to see it.
Thanks in part to a gap in weather stripping that I could fit a pen through, my little seed starting zone gets down to a cool 60 degrees on cold nights. Concerned that it might be a bit too cool, I took the seed starting tray down to warmer environs and buckled down the lid, accidentally closing off the air vents.
Along with the onion sprouts came a spooky, white, spindly… fungus. Good news, things are fertile inside the tray! Pfft.
Also good news: the white stuff can be mitigated by a little air flow provided by a tiny fan, which is already working its magic to correct my mistake. For the next few weeks it’ll be all about tiny dribbles of water for tiny little seedlings, all vented by a tiny fan. This is gonna be a lot cooler when the vegetables are huge.
There’s nothing sketchy about walking down the street with a four foot long, bright yellow box that says “HIGH OUTPUT GROW LIGHT” in rainbow letters on it. Nothing at all. Totally legal. I’m not growing weed, but with all the work I’m putting into the upcoming crop, I better be able to get really high eating these vegetables.
Hard to believe, but it’s that time; time to get it all started again. I sowed my first round of seeds last night in my little pot lab I’ve set up. But let me repeat, it only looks like a pot lab.
I got the gear at the bucolic Brooklyn Farms hydroponic supply store which is encased by steel cages and situated next to the BQE. Brooklyn on the outside, farm on the inside. Check out the equipment they had in there for growing… tomatoes:
These guys were awesome and super reasonably priced. I left with three little seed starting trays and a simple, totally legal, grow light. (I’m not growing pot.) My seedlings will grow up in these little micro greenhouses under super bright fluorescents at night, and sunlight during the day. This is how it looks right now:
These seeds are tiny and it’s easy to forget what you’re growing where. So I kept some detailed notes that I won’t be able to read later on. The important thing here is that the info was written down.
As you read this these tiny bastards are just starting life, ready to become fodder for an entire summer of annoying blog posts. I have high hopes for them; I want these jalapeno peppers to grow up to become astronauts, maybe these eggplants will grow large enough to become eggplant parm subs. Under these bright lights the future is wide open.
In the trays so far:
Emerald Giant Green Pepper, Pepper Tam Jalapeno Peppers, Casper (white) Eggplants, Biancca Onions, Ground Cherries