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Time to start Eggplants, Peppers and many flowers!

Time to Start Eggplants, Peppers and Flowers

Eggplants, peppers (both hot and sweet), and flowers like cockscomb, dahlias from seed, cosmos, and many others, like to get a good head start indoors before being planted outside after the danger of frost has past. We like to give our eggplants and peppers a good eight weeks before planting out, and most flowers about six weeks. Grow lights are a huge help if you don’t have a greenhouse, but in a pinch a very sunny, south-facing windowsill will also do fine. Make sure to bring your seedlings outside on warm days (over 68F) so that they can get stronger–even on grey days outdoor light is much stronger than anything we can get or make indoors, and better light makes stronger plants. However, make certain to bring them back in, as the nights are still way too cold for these warmth-loving seedlings!

Rosa Bianca eggplants:
Our favorite for stuffing, babaganoush, eggplant Parmesan, ratatouille and curries.

Rosa Bianca
Rosa Bianca

  In late winter and early spring, sometimes we need the kick of a little spiciness from last-year’s peppers to get us up and going. Sweet-hot pickled peppers can go on anything from cheese sandwiches to omelettes, meats and salads, or add extra kick as a garnish for soups. Use peppers that match your heat preference–sweet peppers like Sullivan’s Favorite or Jimmy Nardello for those who don’t like any heat at all, Anaheims or Early Jalapenos for those who like a bit of a kick, and Hot Paper Lanterns, Bolivian Rainbow or Aji Crystal for the real heat lovers, or you can mix and match in each jar. Now is the time to plan and sow for your late summer canning!

For simple, delicious sweet pickled peppers (whether hot or not), boil together:

2 cups apple cider vinegar

2 cups sugar

sullivan's favorite frying
sullivan’s favorite frying

–>boil until all the sugar has melted, and the mixture has boiled a little.

–>Using sterilized jars and lids, tightly pack each jar (we use 8oz ball or mason jars) with sliced, seed-free peppers (in the case of the Bolivian Rainbows, you can use the whole pepper)

–>Pour the hot vinegar mixture over the peppers to cover them completely.

–> close the lids and boil in a hot water bath for 20 minutes. Enjoy after 2 weeks, and up to a year!

Always wear rubber gloves and have good ventilation when processing hot peppers! Those tasty treats can pack a punch, and sting eyes, hands, noses, and any skin they come in contact with!

Dahlias brighten up any garden!
Our Dahlia mix offers diverse colors and flower shapes, is very easy to grow, and the best thing, you can easily save your own seeds, or save the tubers from your favorite plants for next year!

Dahlia mix
Dahlia mix
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Winter hardy greens bring hope to lengthening days

Winter Greens for your cold frame or hoop house–these cold-hardy gems can be sown throughout the winter for late winter and early spring harvests!

NY Hardy Corn Salad
NY Hardy Corn Salad

Sowing Greens like NY Hardy Cornsalad, Miner’s lettuce (aka: Claytonia), Arugula, Asian greens, North Pole Lettuce, beet greens and spinach can happen throughout the winter. Fall sown crops are coming to maturity now, and it’s time to think of your late winter and early spring salads! If you have a cold frame, hoop house, sunny windowsill, or greenhouse, you can start sowing in the next few weeks. Most greens are happy to be direct seeded, and with a little love will begin to sprout slowly over a few weeks in a sheltered environment, even in fairly cold weather. To get the best out of your North Pole butterhead lettuce, it may be good to sow it and then transplant it into the growing area, since the heads will get to be a good 8-10 inches across.Cilantro is also especially cold hardy, and can be sown along with your winter greens.

Cucumbers growing in a southwest facing window in February-- these were sown in early December. If you sow in February, they should be at this stage at the middle of April.
Cucumbers growing in a southwest facing window in February– these were sown in early December. If you sow in February, they should be at this stage at the middle of April.

For adventurous folks with good, sunny windows that catch the southern sun, some interesting winter houseplants are: carrots in deep pots, (these need thinning to size up but are very fun for kids!), radishes, snap or snow peas (peas need some creative support, we put a very branching stick or two into the pot so they can grow up the stick), beans –try bush beans like Black Valentine— planted in the next few days they’ll be up as a valentine greeting, bringing summer love into your wintertime. And last but definitely not least, cucumbers–try Shintokiwa for this– usually we’d plant two seeds per gallon pot and then count on tying up the plants along the window frame as they grow. The surprise with cucumbers is that the lovely yellow flowers are also vanilla scented!

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Onion Seed Time

It’s time to place your onion seed orders. Our onion seeds are cleaned, tested, and on the shelf waiting for your order!

Clear Dawn
Clear Dawn

Onions and leeks need plenty of time to get to a nice, pencil-sized plant ready to go outside in early spring. Here in Hudson Valley, NY in zone 5 with a latest frost date of May 15th, we usually start our onions in the early part of February and plant them out in late April. While it’s great to start your onions with a little bottom heat just to get the seeds germinated, once they’re up the seedlings are fairly hardy. We heat our hoop house with a small wood stove to try to keep it above 25 degrees F at night, and the warmer your growing area, the faster the seedlings will grow. Keep in mind that you want plenty of light so that the seedlings don’t get too leggy. If your seedlings look leggy despite your best efforts, just give them a little “haircut” by trimming off some of the top of each seedling, leaving about 2 inches. These delicious trimmings can be used like chives!

The next seeds we’ll start to sow after the onions and leeks are long-growing warm-loving seedlings like eggplant and peppers, and also the first crops out in the garden–spinach, lettuces, peas, radishes, arugula, cilantro, beets, and other cool-weather crops that can take a light frost.