Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Parsley in the Pantry, Basil in the Bathroom

Until we move to the farmhouse in August, we are renting an apartment one mile away. It sure seems like our apartment has become an extension of the barn, as auxiliary storage for muddy boots, tools and seedlings.  Plants are growing in every room. Those of you who know Rich are not at all surprised, right?

Planting Basil seeds for greenhouse
There’s parsley in the pantry. Who knew that parsley likes 28 days of darkness to germinate? There’s basil in the bathroom. It loves the humidity from the shower. Its neighbors are lemongrass stalks that Rich got at a Burmese market as an experiment. After four weeks, they suddenly sent out new leaves. The trick was to separate the hard outer stalk into three pieces, so that new shoots could grow.

Then, there’s the greenhouse in the bedroom. A 4-tier shelving unit takes up the entire window and fits 8 pallets of seedlings.  This winter, Rich, along with all the other cooped-up farmers and gardeners dreaming of summer, purchased seeds from online catalogs, like Johnny’s and Victory. Now, some of the following have already sprouted:

  • Heirloom tomatoes (Brandywine and Purple Cherokee)
  • Red cabbage and summer squash
  • Artichokes
  • Onions and shallots
  • Potatoes and peppers
  • Beets, beans and peas
  • Kale and carrots
  • Watermelon and cantaloupe
  • Giant Atlantic pumpkin
  • All sorts of herbs, like basil (Thai and Italian), dill, oregano, sage, parsley, rosemary, thyme, catnip, lavender and Echinacea
Our leafy roommates will be transplanted or directly sown in the garden on Memorial Day weekend. We tilled a 30x60 foot test plot with good sun exposure and planned wide, raised rows with companion plantings, which like to be planted next to each other or inter-planted in the same rows, like tomatoes and basil. The book, The Gardener’s A-Z Guide to Growing Organic Food, and the garden planner on Mother Earth News were helpful resources. In this cold, wet weather, “dampening off” disease has struck down some tomato and cabbage seedlings. To stop it, we opened the greenhouse to get more air circulation inside, and put a little jar of Kanberra Gel, a tea tree oil gel, next to the door flap. Hopefully, the seedlings will make it through the next few weeks! (And that frost that Farmer’s Almanac predicted for the first week in June doesn’t happen.)

Hops in the Ground

Separating rhizomes for planting
 The most exciting planting news at McCollum Orchards is that the hops are in the ground! This week, we planted 50 Cascade, 40 Centennial, and 8 each of Fuggle, Nugget and Perle in a row-trellis system. Next week, we will experiment with maypole and planter systems with the Golding variety. It marks the first major planting season on the old farm in nearly two decades. But, we are just happy all the rhizomes are out of the refrigerator.

Planting Cascade rhizomes in rows


  1. Welcome to my childhood. Gardening started in mid-February and continued until all the boxes full of seedlings were moved to the dacha. A lot of boxes...

  2. This is why we need Mama Sveta to teach us Siberian gardening!