The basement is (mostly) clean, the materials are in order, the light shelf is wiped down and the trays are sterilized and rinsed. February 15 is the official start of the garden season in my house.
This afternoon, my garden partner is coming over to help mix the soilless medium, fill a few flats, and start leeks and onions (and maybe a little parsley). As my CSA members and regular blog readers know, mid-February is when I seed the crop that is both the first to be started and the last to be harvested of the garden season: heirloom Blue Solaise leeks.
These blue-green beauties have won me the Best in Show Horticultural Division at the Clay County Fair for the last two years in a row. But better than ribbons is the taste of those thick, creamy, nutty shoots in a soup, casserole, or just braised all on their own.
I’ve still got a few of them left in the garden from last year’s crop–they’re biennials, which means they set seed in their second year, and I will be saving the seed of 2008’s crop to start leeks in 2010–a year from now. This year’s seedlings will give me seed in 2010 for starting 2011’s crop.
I’m also starting my favorite red Italian bottle onions–Red Long of Tropea. They don’t get very big, but they are an excellent salad and short-cooking onion that can be eaten from the bottom of their glossy bulbs to the tips of their fleshy leaves. On Monday or Tuesday, when my Territorial Seed order comes, I’ll be starting a new variety of yellow onions called “Talon.”
Tuesday night is our (hopefully) first (annual) community seed swap, so I’ll also be getting a number of seed packs ready for that in the next couple of days, and who knows? I might find something else new and exciting to start for this year’s gardens. I know I’ll need to be looking at my perennials seed packs to see if there’s something else that likes to be started extra-early.