Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Weekend Planting

Last weekend my MIL was in town. I didn't have a lot of time to garden, but did schedule things so I could get my seeds planted. On Friday morning I started chitting my seed, so I had no choice as to when they went in the garden. The peas would go in on Saturday and the spinach seed would go in on Sunday. I wasn't sure at all about the fava beans as I've never grown them before, so I just put them in with the peas.

Chitting is a word I'd never heard of before reading blogs. I'd done it, but never had a term for it. Well presprouting is the word I'd probably have used. Basically I wet down a paper towel and put seeds on one side of it and fold over the towel. I roll it up and put my paper towel inside a plastic container so the water couldn't evaporate. Let them sit in a warm place until they start to show signs of roots.

Slightly chitted peas, you can see roots coming out of a few
Golden Sweet Peas from Karl

I've never chitted peas before. I figured I would this year as we are so late in getting the peas in the ground. Chitting just helps your seed start faster. In the spring the ground is cold and giving all the seed a day or two to spout inside starts the process off faster. I really wish I had taken a small portion and not presprouted to see how much faster it would be with peas.

On Saturday I planted peas 2" apart in rows 6" apart. First I dug a little trench for them. Then sprinkled in the innoculant. Then put in the peas. It would have been a touch easier if my trellis hadn't been strung with twine yet, but I wanted to do something last week and it was just so cold.

The fava beans got planted 6" apart in all directions in a 3'x3' patch. This took all the favas from the packet. I did save a couple out just in case I have empty spots. I hope they all germinate. But what are the odds? 6" is just a guess for how far apart they ought to be. The packet said 4" apart in rows 1-2" apart. Some people on the web say they plant 2" apart, some 12" apart. There doesn't seem to be a lot of agreement. I'm wondering if favas have very different size plants depending on the variety. Any fava experts out there?

Spinach was my last planting on Sunday. I found that chitting my spinach gets them to germinate better, so I've been doing it for a while. Spinach is just too hard to germinate. Some people start them inside, but they hate to be transplanted so much and the number of plants is just extraordinary. I ended up planting a little over 3/4 of a 4x16" bed (a bed that will have the three sisters come summer). I made seven rows across the 4' wide area. So the rows are 6" apart, but don't come too close to the edge. Within the bed I tried to place one seed every three inches. If you do the calculation I would have needed about 350 plants to cover the same area.

How I keep my spinach rows sort of straight

Though toward the end I got sloppy and put in more than one in each slot, They weren't as evenly spaced either. Planting wet spinach seed is actually hard. It likes to stick to you fingers. I think next year maybe I should make my own seed tapes to make planting easier outside. It wasn't that cold yesterday, but it sure felt like it. The wind was howling. My container of seed once got blown over and I was trying to pick seed out of the dirt. I'd only have to make 90' feet of seed tape. That ought to take forever. Hmm maybe next time I'll do half and half and see which one I hate worse.

But they are in. The weather has moderated a bit and we are much more seasonal in temps. In fact maybe just a touch above. The long range forecast doesn't have any days below freezing in the forecast. Our last frost is a ways off still, but it means I ought to get my onions in ASAP. It is supposed to rain the next two days so that probably won't happen until Wednesday. I might even get in the lettuce and the early planted brassicas too. I've been hardening them off. Yesterday they were out all day long in the nasty wind. They still seem happy enough. One of the Red Sails lettuce plants has a slightly sun burnt leaf, but all the others were happy to get a full day of sun. Actually almost two days now of full sun as they were out most of Saturday too.


  1. I'm going to try "chitting" the pea and spinach seeds. I'm hoping to get mine in this weekend, but it won't stop raining (actually, it's snowing now) so I can't get ANY work done out there.

  2. Interesting I have never tried chitting our seeds before. We also had a late spring and start planting late last year.

  3. I sympathise! But I admire your dedication more... I wouldn't have the patience to chit any but the biggest seeds.

  4. I chitted my peas this year and got a 100% germ...that's a first. I planted them with my favas, too. The favas are a first for me...we'll see how they do. A friend grows them by the bushel and passed some seed on to me. I love eating the things...I hope I enjoy growing them. Looks like you had a very busy weekend.

  5. Use toilet tissue (cheap, one ply if you can find it) for the spinach seeds, and put one seed in each corner diagonally (2 seeds to each square). That spaces them 4" apart in all directions. It really goes fast, Elmer's School Glue, a toothpick and seeds on a paper plate. I hang mine on a hanger to dry, then roll them up and store them until needed. I must say though, my indoor started plants all transplanted great (not so every year), and my seed tape spinach is just now beginning to pop up. These strong, drying winds are tough on seed germination.

  6. The fava variety I planted in Dec. was a lot larger than the average bush bean plant. They need more like 12 inches or at least mine did. You should be able to thin them if yours get too crowded. I knew I was seriously pushing the envelope trying to grow them here - they grew but they never flowered.
    I'm so happy winter is finally behind you and you can plant your garden!

  7. Hmm...I had never heard of chitting, before. Thanks for educating us :)

    You seem to have done a lot of work. I always wonder how everyone keeps their(dozens) of raised beds free of weed? How do you do it? It'd be hard to mulch between smaller plants like peas, onions etc.,

  8. Kaytee, I'm so glad we are getting rain right now and not snow. I've had enough of the snow this year after so much.

    Malay, I've found it really helps to get the seed germinated. The spinach is still iffy. I swear spinach hates to germinate. I hope it makes it this year. Last year it just didn't want to come up. The year before was spectacular though. I'm hoping for another good year.

    Mark, I wish I could chit carrots which are so hard to get up. But the seed is just too tiny. Could you imagine trying to sow wet tiny seed?

    Lynda, I'm kinda hoping for about 70% germination of my peas. I think 2" is really a bit close for them, but 3" is great. So if one third of the seed dies it is good enough for me. Either way I'll let them be though as they don't like to be thinned.

    Granny, I was thinking of toilet tissue seed tapes for carrot seed. But maybe cutting it in thirds and folding it over. I want a row not a block with them. I really like to row plant better than block planting. I'm weird that way.

    Jane, well I will see how they go at 6". I can always cut out plants if they seem too big. Too bad yours didn't flower. But I can imagine how hard it is to grow certain things there and you have succeeded with things like spinach.

    RandomGardener, Usually I just weed. On occasion I'll mulch with straw, but honestly that can introduce even more weed seeds into the mix unless I go with salt marsh hay. I might get some bales of salt marsh hay this spring. It really does help keep the splash back down and keeps the bed moister. I've already noticed that the beds dry out so much faster than my last garden. BTW weeding isn't all that bad if you keep up with it. But my garden is three times the size this year so it might be hard. If so I'll resort to more mulch and IRT mulch the tomatoes and peppers. I might IRT mulch the peppers anyway, but I don't have soaker hoses to run under plastic mulch right now.

  9. I use paper napkins for carrot seeds, then cut them into strips after the glue dries. I usually leave a double (staggered) row of seeds to each strip, then space the strips about 6" apart.

  10. I was thinking after reading Marks comments that I would want to chit them. The only way to do that is to fold over the paper and use a paper that dissolves very quickly. No glue as it wouldn't hold the seed in the water. The only issue is if toilet paper is sturdy enough to take water for a few days without dissolving and also after that will dissolve. An experiment might be in order.

  11. I can't wait to see what you think of the fava beans. I plant mine about 6' apart I suppose and they do just fine. I look forward to seeing them pop up in your bed, they germinate fairly quickly and like cool rainy weather.

  12. I've never had consistent results with presprouting presoaking peas and beans. They all seem to rot in the ground when I try too hard. The best result I've ever gotten was just throw the hard seeds in the ground and the soil has been well turned.

    We've had such a slow time getting started this spring that I've forgotten how late it's getting! I need to fit in some time this week to get my peas in!

  13. “Chitting” huh? I’ve heard of chitting potatoes to allow them to sprout, I don’t know why I didn’t realize that this term would be appropriate for presprouting other seeds as well. I am a fan of chitting. So far it has worked well for me for tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and basil seeds.