A seed has incredible potential. It was 19th century American author Henry David Thoreau who said, “I have great faith in a seed. Convince me that you have a seed there, and I am prepared to expect wonders.”
What makes seeds particularly fascinating – beyond the fact that such a tiny item can produce such a large result – is the fact that seeds from different plants are all so unique. As such, gardeners need to pay attention to customized planting and care instructions.
Here is the second in a series of recommendations on starting and caring for a variety of plants that will grow from your heirloom seeds.
Cantaloupe Hales Best. In a cooler climate, plant seeds indoors one month before transplanting. Before planting outdoors after the last frost, add manure or compost to the soil. Plant in raised rows of two to three plants per hill at 60 to 72 inches apart and one inch below the soil surface. This will help hold the sun’s heat and also aids drainage. This fruit will do much better in warmer climates. Once the fruit begins to grow, prune the end buds off the vines. This might mean fewer melons, but they’ll be larger and of higher quality. These plants may be susceptible to aphids, cucumber beetles, flea beetles, thrips, fusarium wilt, leaf spot, charcoal rot, downy mildew, powdery mildew, bacterial wilt and blight.
Carrot Scarlet Nantes. Direct sow these seeds outside in the early spring, about two weeks before the last expected frost. They can also be planted in the fall. Plant them approximately two inches apart and ½ to ¾ inch below the surface of the soil. You can sow them even closer together because you will be thinning them out later. Your rows should be spaced at between six and 24 inches apart. Choose a stone-free soil and enhance it with organic matter. Make sure the soil receives plenty of water. Grow them in full sun if possible. These plants may be susceptible to aphids, carrot rust flies, wireworms and blight.
Cauliflower Snowball. Sow seeds indoors before the last frost, or direct sow the seeds outside after the last frost. Plant the seeds about ¼ inch under the soil surface, leaving 24 to 30 inches between plants. For an even greater likelihood of success, plant the seeds in early September in flats and place them in a cold frame. Repot them into peat pots approximately six weeks later and move them into a cool greenhouse where you can repot them again into larger pots in mid-winter before moving them to your garden in late April. These plants may be susceptible to blackleg, downy mildew, club root, cabbage looper, cucumber beetles, cabbageworm, ring spot, powdery mildew, black rot, thrips and flea beetles.
Corn Golden Bantum. Plant seeds in loose, well-worked soil after it has warmed to about 65 degrees F. In cooler climates, start them indoors. Enrich the soil well because corn is a heavy feeder. Direct sow the seeds one to 1 ½ inches deep and five to 18 inches apart in blocks of rows three feet apart. Sow two seeds together in case one fails to germinate, then remove the weaker one when they reach ¾ inch tall. Soil should be weed free. After the corn is one foot tall, thin to six to eight inches apart. These plants may be susceptible to earworms, aphids, cucumber beetles, cutworms, flea beetles, Japanese beetles, thrips, wireworms, bacteria wilt and downy mildew.
Cucumber Marketmore 76. Direct sow the seeds outside after the danger of the last frost has passed. Plant them in hills of two to three plants per hill and at 36 to 48 inches apart, about ½ inch below the surface of the soil. Another option is sowing seeds in a greenhouse in mid-fall at a temperature of 70 degrees F, tying them onto a stake support and transplanting the seedlings. Grow this plant in fertile, well-drained soil. Use a general liquid fertilizer every two weeks or so after the first cucumbers begin to develop. These plants may be susceptible to cucumber beetles, gray squash bugs, cucumber mosaic virus, bacteria wilt and powdery mildew.