The Violet Fern

A Colorful Tale of a Garden in the Making

What’s Growing: Purple Majesty Millet

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It’s been warm and sunny here for the past few days and I have finally been out in the garden! I needed to clean up the Potager a bit since I didn’t last Fall – for shame! I always clean up in the Fall and pile the beds high with compost to work itself in over the Winter. You can bet this Fall I won’t repeat this bad behavior. I wanted to especially clean up where I want to plant the peas on one of the rustic obelisks – which I still haven’t sown. It is awfully late but then again Spring was late this year and I am waiting for a “fruit day” which will be this Thursday. Tomorrow is a “flower day” which would also work and the sooner I get those peas sown the better. Those peas like to grow up cold! (Me, not so much.) When I speak of fruit or flower (or root or leaf) days, I am referring to biodynamics. I have always purchased Stella Natura‘s Biodynamic calendar but this year went modern with a phone app – Bio Calendar although it is on Pacific Time and doesn’t contain all the beautiful extras of Stella’s calendar – I admit I miss it. There is much more to the biodynamic approach than flower days but I still enjoy planting this way. Anyway, clean up went better than expected.

potagerapril122014

Fully expected were the mushy potatoes that I never harvested from my hoop last year – what a waste. I am not allowing myself to grow potatoes this year as punishment and the hoop has been dismantled and the nice dark dirt redistributed. The ground by the shed is still quite soggy so I stopped about three quarters of the way through. I managed to move one of the rustic obelisks to a new spot on the other side of the rustic arbor – I have them staked into the ground due to our high winds – but the ground is so mucky that the stakes came out pretty easily. On this one I am going to grow cucamelons, or Mexican sour gherkins. I am really excited to try this new (to me) plant! I never have much luck with cucumbers probably because I tend to plant them too cold/early – although according to the National Garden Bureau it is the year of the cucumber. The nearby Amish always have a good supply of those nice pickling cukes which we end up buying anyway, so onto something new. My space is valuable and I am upping the rent each year.

Coming up in the Potager already are horseradish and garlic. Another thing I failed to do this past Fall is to dig up all my horseradish. I am certain I will also regret this as horseradish likes to spread. I read somewhere it is good practice to dig it all up every Fall and then plant only a few little roots for the next year. This is something I have always done and it has kept it contained quite well in my garden – especially important since I (stupidly) planted the asparagus right next to it. Shame on me again! I am a little worried about the garlic. The soil is very wet and soggy – due to the massive amount of snow and ice melt this year – but the shoots seem to be greening up and for all I know we’ll have drought conditions next month!

Horseradish

Horseradish

Garlic shoots

Garlic shoots

Indoors, I have started some seeds. I am also off to a slow start on this project but it is due to the weather and well another project that led to another project. I think I have time. This year, I felt so organized – notice the past tense. I had my perfect spot picked out for starting seeds this year – NOT over the other half of the kitchen table since that didn’t work out too well whenever we had company last Spring. I picked our spare room and brought up a shelf from our cellar that we were not using efficiently – because I needed more light for more seeds this year – ha ha. But then we decided we had to finish painting our upstairs floors. And then, since we emptied the spare room, we decided we should paint the ceiling, walls and trim while it was emptied. You know how those projects go …

paint

The painting project that goes on and on and on …

So, this spot is out because I needed to get started planting! And so, where else but to set up but in the most crowded room of our house – my office/studio. Just when you think you couldn’t possibly have room for one more thing … hey, just like gardening! And so I successfully managed to fit the shelving and the lights and all into my small studio/office space. Nevermind that at the end of May I am participating in our local Artist Studio Tour … hopefully, the seeds will be in the hardening off stage by then.

crowdedoffice

Overcrowded studio/office seed set up

Planting tomato, pepper and eggplant seeds on a fruit day.

Planting tomato, pepper and eggplant seeds on a fruit day.

Any old shop light will do.

Any old shop light will do.

I love this set up! It would be ideal if the shelves were 4 ft long to match the length of the lights but I made do with what I had. I simply hung each light above each shelf. My husband ordered some large trays (seen stacked against the shelf in the overcrowded shot) – I believe from Uline – that he isn’t using anymore and they make perfect plant trays! I am very happy with the Jiffy seed starters (and save mine and bought the pellet refills this year). You could mimic the seed starters by recycling salad containers but be sure to use a seed starting mix. I have used coconut coir seed starting mix and paper towel rolls in the past. You will need an additional light source if starting seeds – any old shop light will do – trust me I learned this the hard way. I use plant bulbs. Once the plants have germinated I remove the covers to minimize any damping off,  and use a small fan set on low to encourage strong stems.  A system like this has greatly improved my seed starts and this year I am trying some new things – more annuals. I am excited to try Passion Flower, Corkscrew vine Vigna cracalla (a mere five seeds per pack!), and this Purple Majesty Millet (although its blades don’t look very purple yet) which has just germinated!

millet

This year I am going to try my hand at making paper pots when I need to pot up – especially for that Millet since the packet warns against starting it root bound.

I am so thrilled that the growing season has begun! What new and exciting things are you growing this year?

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Author: Kathy Sturr

Cultivating art, growing soul, and creating plant-based food in the beautiful 1000 Islands, New York and Cedar Key, Old Florida.

6 thoughts on “What’s Growing: Purple Majesty Millet

  1. I’ve planted my first horseradish this year. It’s good to know I need to dig it up. Thank you.

    • You will enjoy fresh horseradish for sure! It doesn’t keep too well for me but I’ve also heard to stick the roots in sand in a root cellar and that it will keep better that way. I’ve also heard no problems freezing it. I tend to make big batches and give some away. There is really nothing like a little fresh horseradish in Winter when your sinuses are rebelling! Especially in Bloody Marys (wink).

  2. Ah, the search for places for ever more seedlings…I know it well – yet again I’m running out of windowsills! Glad to have come across your blog. Happy growing!

  3. I actually planted my early garden outside today as I squished around. Lettuces, arugula, endive, spinach, chard, beets, carrots, scallions, peas, radishes, chervil, Italian parsley and cilantro. Oh my aching back. And the peppers and eggplant are coming up even if it is slow…tomatoes are all up and will be ready by the end of the week for planting in bigger pots already….yikes!

  4. Oh Kathy:-) I missed some posts from you because I have been outside everyday. I hardly got a post done this week. I skipped last week! Your garden looks great + you will love your new seed starting system. I took a spare bedroom and call it my plant room, but now I have plants every where!!! Isn’t it fun. I am so excited to see all the things you have in your garden this year.
    I only grow one cucumber, Lemon cukes since they work best + I found they do very well in our climate. I also grow them vertically and never will grow them on the ground again:-)
    It seems like you are a bit behind us in greening up + we are bit behind others more out west…but she is here! Spring is blooming all around:-) FINALLY!!!

Thank you for joining me in the making of my garden!

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