YORKTON - Amaryllis update! Some of you have been asking how our waxed amaryllis are doing. They are beautiful, the first buds are just starting to open up. They are cheery red and white striped, absolutely beautiful! Definitely a conversation starter!
Speaking of starting something new, are we like kids in the candy store with all the seed catalogues? If you haven’t received any yet, just go online to some of the main seed houses like Lindenberg, T&T, Veseys, Stokes, McKenzie, WH Perron, get your name on a mailing list and watch the mailbox! The catalogues are wonderful sources of all kinds of growing information.
One of the most important when choosing seeds is the “days to maturity”. Someone asked what this means. It seems so obvious, doesn’t it, but really it isn’t for a whole lot of reasons.
“Days to maturity” refers to the happy day when we can pick the first vegetable or flower from a certain plant. That’s the general term. For seeds that get planted right into the garden, it refers to the days from when the seeds sprout to when they are harvested.
First, let’s talk about that number. I’m looking at the Lindenberg catalogue which has a muskmelon called “Fastbreak Improved”. It sounds like a good choice because the catalogue says, “very early maturity makes this variety ideal for Canadian gardeners”. Bless them for saying this! It’s very helpful. The days to maturity number is 65, a reasonable number for prairie gardeners. I can almost taste it sliced up on top of vanilla ice cream already!
But what if we really like one variety that says, “85 days”. Does this mean 85 days from when we plant it in the house? 85 days from when we plant it outside? General consensus seems to say that the “85 days” start when the seedlings started in the house are set out into the garden, or 85 days from when they germinate in the garden. I have read that some gardeners start their days to maturity count from when the seedlings sprout and form actual leaves, not just emerge from the soil.
Suddenly, things are complicated. If we hope to eat that 85-day muskmelon by August 20, then counting back 85 days takes us to May 28. If we are starting the plants indoors, we probably need at least ten days added on to that, which takes us back to May 18.
But, if we are sowing the 85-day muskmelon directly outside (always bearing in mind that the soil has to be warm enough to get those little seeds going) and do so on May 22, Victoria Day, we would begin our 85 day count from when the seedlings are up and have a couple real leaves. In a perfect gardening world, it would all work out.
Here’s where the “whole lot of reasons” come up that gardeners have to consider. We might have a cold spring. We might have a lot of rain. A late melt might keep the ground chilly longer than normal. There are pests. There is hail. All these factors have a lot to do with how fast our plants will meet that magical maturity date.
Whew! So where do we go from here, gardeners? Forward! Always forward! Read the dates and then try to select plants that seem manageable. Gardening is always taking a chance, it’s always a challenge, and it’s always interesting! So if you’re trying something new, don’t be scared by the numbers: go for it, be informed, and it will probably turn out better than you expected! Thank you to our friends at YTW for their great work. Visit us at www.yorktonhort.ca and have a great week!