American Gardeners: Downeast garden is going!

In spite of cool, cloudy spring all of my seeds have sprouted, thanks in no small part to the small greenhouse that protected my tender seedlings from some late frosts. I have found some winners here and I can’t wait to share what I have learned.

Three Heart Heirloom Lettuce Seeds

Three Heart Lettuce greenhouse planting.

Three Heart Lettuce: This is a big hit. It emerged early and the germination rate was excellent. I planted it along with seven other varieties of lettuce and this was the first to poke up. The color is fabulous. The bright, light green is nearly fluorescent and the flavor is very mild with a good crunch. I will definitely let some of this go to seed. I planted the first batch in the greenhouse and another patch outside on the same day. The greenhouse lettuce is much bigger and ready to lightly harvest while the outside patch will provide mid-summer salad. I’m guessing that this variety will not bolt as quickly as some other lettuce does in the heat but time will tell.

Lazy Housewife bean

Lazy Housewife bean sprout in outdoor garden.

Lazy Housewife Bean: Another winner here. Germination was 100% and that was outside where we have had little sun and very cool temperatures. I will plant another row now and see what difference heat will make. I do see some insect damage. We don’t spray for pests so it remains to be seen if this bean is more attractive to bean beetles. I’m really looking forward to tasting our first harvest as the proof is in the flavor. I know I won’t mind not having to remove strings.

Heirloom Black Cherry Tomato seedling

Heirloom Black Cherry Tomato seedling. Seeds provided by Lehmans.com.

Black Cherry Tomatoes: My poor tomato starts have had a couple of setbacks. I forgot to open the ventilation windows and cooked my first starts but we replanted and they seem to be doing well now. I’m keeping them in the greenhouse for another few days as the night time temperatures are nearing frost levels again and I won’t risk my seedlings. I also wish I had used a grow light as my starts were a bit leggier than I like.

Potato Cucumbers: What can I say? I found an excellent germination rate and terrific looking plants. I’ll be starting another bunch outside and these will remain in a patio pot. I can’t wait to use my new fermenting jar to get some salt fermented pickles.

Heirloom Dragon Carrot Seeds

Teeny, hardy Dragon Carrot sprouts in the carrot bed. This heirloom variety is available at Lehmans.com

Dragon Carrots: I have had carrots take 3 weeks to germinate but these were up in 2 weeks, far earlier than the rest of my carrot row. There isn’t much to see yet but it looks like the germination rate was very good. I have seen these carrots before and they are just gorgeous! I’m counting on some blue ribbons at the county fair.

I will be planting a lot of these crops in succession so I can have a summer of eating as well as some to save seed with and preserve for the winter. So much potential in a few small packets!

Editor’s note: Kathy Harrison is one of our American Gardeners, a group of folks across the country who are growing the same five seed varieties, and reporting back to us what works well in their areas. Kathy is furthest east and north, and if her garden’s going, it’s time for the rest of us to get growing!

Kathy Harrison

About Kathy Harrison

Kathy Harrison is the author of Just in Case, Another Place at the Table, and One Small Boat. She is a national spokesperson for both foster parenting and family preparedness and has appeared on The Today Show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and National Public Radio. She lives with her family in western Massachusetts.