Sprouting, Seeds and Other Early Greenhouse Observations

[dropcap1]W[/dropcap1]ell, its no secret that the weather has been less than desirable for sun-starved Chicagoans, anxiously awaiting summer. However, it has been a good opportunity to enjoy what a greenhouse can offer in this up and down weather. First off……the extra few degrees we gain in the greenhouse has been great for sprouting seeds and keeping our smaller tomato plants healthy and happy. Rain?…..What Rain? Our lettuces and arugula have also been growing like crazy, which tells us that a rooftop garden will indeed be on the project list for 2012. With that said big thanks to Robin our resident volunteer and we welcome Lauren our greenhouse intern who will spend her summer helping us keep things green, happy and organized in the greenhouse. We are grateful to have her aboard.

We also made good use of our first order from Johnny’s Seeds, with a successful first run of Radish Sprouts using a simple sprouting jar. It basically boils down to soak, rinse & drain (2x a day) for 4-5 days and then a few hours in the sun to let the chlorophyll activate and get some color into the sprouts. Then a quick rinse to pick out any remaining seed pods and refrigerate. The Daikon sprouts have a great peppery flavor to add a little heat and color to dishes.

We also saw the first round of seeds spring up from the seeds we purchased from Richter’s greenhouse in British Columbia (still waiting for our caper bushes, pear mint and Kalieteri Oregano plants – they won’t ship until the weather warms up a little more, we are hoping this week). For seedlings we have Neapolitan basil popping up as well as some of the longstanding cilantro (has less of a tendency to bolt). From Johnny’s we started the Par-cel (cutting celery) seeds and some D’Avignon radishes which are a variety of French breakfast radish that likes to grow in greenhouses, we thought we would test that out.

To keep our likelihood of success higher, the seed varieties we are selecting this year have a very high germination rate (over 90%) which helps our chances of success in growing them into healthy, happy plants.

We also transplanted some heirloom plants grown by a local Berwynite and are watching those with anticipation. We have just loads of tomato plants and should be serving up lots of delicious varieties this summer and into fall. Cakeridge farms is growing some additional plants for us, so we are looking forward to those veggies & herbs too!