February, the Shortest and Longest Month of the Year

 The days are getting noticeably longer, the birds are waking earlier and are singing more, the trees are beginning to bud, and the almond tree is starting to flower.

 This is the month where I get itchy to be doing different things, to be outdoors more, and mostly wanting my garden to be full of flowers again. I know, I know, patience.

 Last year for the first time in my life I started most of the annual flowers and vegetables for the summer garden from seed in our little greenhouse that Hans built.




 Because in this corner of the earth we have ants that immediately sense any seed you might happen to put in earth and they come in droves, from I swear kilometers away and inject the seed with something so it will not germinate, and then haul it off to their house. I am not making this up.

 Last year I read a book by an English guy called “Organic Gardening the natural no-dig way” by Charles Dowding. (BTW, a terrific book)

 It seems in England they have a big problem with slugs eating the tender little plant shoots, so he starts everything in a greenhouse before setting out plants. I thought, well, that might just solve our ant problem. Mind you, we have slugs too, but beer traps seem to keep them away from the veggies.




Last year my first round of indoor seed planting was a dismal failure, only about 10% germinated. So I researched (or rather, googled) and decided to soak the seeds for a bit before planting. This resulted in a much higher success rate. I also suspect that the first batch was impeded by the average temperature being too low. Most seeds need warmth to germinate and our greenhouse which is not heated is cold at night.

 So this year I’m trying something different.

 1. Soak the seeds (that seemed like a good idea last year, why not repeat?)

 2. Germinate the seeds in damp kitchen paper towels inside.

 3. Plant the germinated seeds in soil in the greenhouse.

 Remember in elementary school a teacher would help you germinate bean seeds in paper towels in the classroom, which you then planted in a portion of an egg carton?

 That’s the idea. Gosh those elementary teachers know a thing or two!

 I’m soaking the seeds in little coffee plastic cups. This is Italy. They make thimble size plastic cups for take away espresso.

 Then I strain them and set them out on a paper towel that I dampened with a spray bottle, fold it up, put the towel back into the labeled cup (why am I even tempted to think I am really going to remember what’s what…?), put them on the kitchen counter and check 2 times a day, spraying with more water if they need it.

 Well, most of the seeds I saved from last year and the new seeds I bought have germinated!

 Into the seed starting tray in the greenhouse they go.

 I’ll keep you all posted as to their progress.



5 comments to February, the Shortest and Longest Month of the Year

  • Debbie Leal

    Thank you so very much for sharing this. This sounds like my dream life. I’ve always wanted a greenhouse and to be able to successfully have a harvest from the things I’ve planted. And in Italy to top it off! I’m going to love reading your blog, since I’m a new subscriber.

    I ordered two scarves from you recently for my husband and he loves them. He wore one to have dinner on Fat Tuesday at our bishops home. Our bishipop was complementing it so much my husband gave it to him as a gift. I told him it was from Italy since he’s lived in Rome for several years and his eyes lit up. So I’ll be ordering again from you soon I’m quite sure.

    We celebrated our 25 wedding anniversary last month and we hope to trave to there and stay for a month sometime in the Fall. Hopefully, I’ll get to stop by and see you in person if that would work out. How that for asking myself over??! Those forward Americanos!

    Anyway I’m thoroughly enjoying each one of your posts.

    Many thanks and best wishes,

    Amarillo, Texas

    • Thanks so much. What a nice story about your husband and his generosity. Congratulations on your wedding anniversary, 25 years, wow! Please do stop by and visit us. Le Marche is such a fabulous area of Italy, and so unknown. In September is the grape harvest, in October-November the olive harvest all over Italy. It’s a great time to visit.

  • Sean

    What a good looking greenhouse! I can’t wait to see new photos showing how they grow!
    Thanks for sharing.

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