In my "revisionist" gardening mode, for the first time in years, I am attempting some indoor seed-starts. Normally, I'm a dismal failure at indoor propagation, failing both at getting the seeds to sprout (I tend to keep the soil too moist), and in the hardening-off transition to the outdoors. It is the latter failure that I most dread. I occasionally get some decent seedlings going of this or that plant, only to see them crash and burn outside because I put them in too much sun and then forget to water them. I actually feel pity for most seedlings placed in my hands.
I was spurred into action by a colorful rack of organic seeds at the Selby Botanic Gardens last week (more on that soon), when I came across an open-bred zucchini named 'Dark Star', which listed its attributes as drought-tolerant and open habit. Dare I hope that it might also be a little more resistant to my ubiquitious squash bugs? With nothing to lose, I purchased a package, transported it into flyover country, and planted half the packet (10/20 seeds) last Saturday. This morning, lo and behold, there be zucchini seedlings here!
Somewhere, I've missed the zucchini breeding revolution that resulted in 'Dark Star'. Bred by Bill Reynolds and Donna Ferguson of Eel River Farms, and released by Seeds of Change in 2007, 'Dark Star' is a less variable selection of 'Black Eel', the latter a cross of 'Black Beauty' and 'Raven'. Really, it's quite a story and you can read about it at the Organic Seed Alliance. Truthfully, however, knowing nothing of the story behind it, it was the seed packet that lured me to an impulse purchase.
I also have an itch this year to do a better job at growing flowering sweet peas than my previous efforts. Rather than just throwing them into the cold March ground, praying that the rabbits leave them to grow, and then hoping they flower before the hot Kansas sun fries them into oblivion, I chose to try to start them indoors. Hopefully, that will give them about a month's head start over normal growing conditions and I can likely transplant them within just a couple of weeks into a much nicer, manure-enriched bed than my regular alkaline clay-pot soil . I just hope my new seed setup, in a direct southern window supplemented by a pair of daylight-frequency LED spots, is up to the task.
Oh, and if you liked the term "revisionist gardening," stay tuned because I might just copyright it and continue to write in that mode. It comes from a deep place in my gardening soul right now.