Monthly Archives: March 2011

Seed Starting: Tomatoes and Basil

My post today isn’t about a recipe per se, but what we make them from instead. For the past few weeks I’ve been in preliminary gardening mode. It’s that time of year where I feel eternally optimistic about the possibilities for the summer and I decided this year to go ahead and try growing a few vegetables by seed. This actually is not something I feel eternally optimistic about having read horror stories online of buried moldy seeds and spindly sprouts with little foliage that eventually die.  However, through various Google searches I’ve found such neat varieties that I just felt compelled to try it since these are the kinds of veggies you can’t really find in most nurseries. I decided to focus on basil, tomatoes and squash/pumpkins.

My first order of business was to plant the basil. It’s my favorite herb (besides cilantro and rosemary probably) and my mom found some really beautiful, not to mention delicious, varieties last year that I saved some seeds from. Cinnamon basil and Purple Basil will now always be grown alongside the normal sweet varieties. Their flowers are pretty enough to be used in a bouquet and the purple kind looks gorgeous overtop bruschetta. I would advise against lemon basil however. It smells nearly identical to Pine-Sol―it’s actually incredible how pungent it is―and I wouldn’t personally use it in my food. So anyways, I planted an egg carton full of purple, cinnamon and sweet basil and set it outside for some sunlight only to find, in my horror, that it had been knocked over a few hours later―dirt scattered all over the grass. I suspect my cat. I had let him out for a bit of sun and he has an obsession with casually knocking breakable items off of high places and looking very pleased with himself afterward. This was especially tragic because I used all of my purple basil seeds in that batch and was therefore only able to replant the other two kinds.

Then it was the tomato seeds. I’ve turned my small college house into a make-do greenhouse and I’m not sure how my five roommates feel about it. Since we are in college and we’re trying to save money, the temperature in our house stays at about a steady 62 degrees―hardly conducive to heat loving tomato seeds. I put my heated blanket underneath the seed tray to compensate and covered the top of the tray with it as well. In effect, it’s a small hot house and I made sure there’s air circulation by putting books and paint cans and anything I could get to hold the black plastic bag open so mold can’t grow. I’m particularly excited about the “Isis Candy” (purely for the literary allusion) and “Cuore de Toro” varieties.

The squash and pumpkin seeds should arrive shortly but those I’ll actually end up sowing right into the ground. They don’t do as well with container transplants, (tomatoes actually benefit from them), and I want to have the best chances possible, especially with the Musquee de Provence pumpkins which I hear make great soups. The French are pros at pumpkin growing. So here’s to a prosperous growing season! Hopefully these seeds will produce some delicious and unique culinary inspirations!

 

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