Tuesday, February 10, 2009

2009 Garden - Seeds

As promised last fall, we at GreenRoofGrowers, want to share some of what we’ve learned about growing on our rooftops and will be including several posts throughout the growing season.

Last weekend, here in Chicago, we ordered our seeds to start our seedlings for transplanting this spring. Our goal is to get the broccoli, greens, lettuce going for an early spring planting. These cool weather crops can stand the cold weather but maybe not the freezing so we’ll have to watch our crazy Chicago weather (zone 5b). Next, we’ll start most of the summer crop – tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, etc. – for a mid-May planting. We’re basically starting seeds 4-6 weeks before they go into our boxes. Bruce will follow up with a post about planting the seeds for seedling starts in the coming days.

We’re very excited about our seed shopping this year. We also have some seed left over from last year so we’re using them when we can. This year, we’ve mainly purchased seeds from Seed Savers Exchange and Victory Seeds but also from Reimer Seeds, Seeds from Italy, Fedco, and Wild Garden Seed.

We chose some basics and old reliables but also want to try a few newer varieties to see how they do. Here’s a snapshot:

-Beans (several)
-Greens (Collard)
-Herbs (several)
-Kale (several)
-Lettuce (several)
-Pepper (sweet and hot)
-Swiss Chard
-Tomatoes (several)

So, if you are planning on planting from seed this year (and live in Chicago or another zone 5 area), order them now. Although my transplanting dates will be around April 15 and May 15 this year, some of the other growers may try to start a bit earlier. We’ll keep you posted as to the progress.


rodolphe g. said...

I'm really exited about following your blob! After experimenting at a tiny scale last year, I'm planing and doing much more this season. Thanks for the inspiration, keep on the excellent work!

Mike said...

Last summer, I stumbled onto your blog and decided to give SIPs a chance. I grew 1 tomato plant in the 5-gallon bucket. It worked great. This summer I plan on building 3 Rubbermaid-containter-style SIPs.
I'm going to start from seed and try to get a couple of plants started outside in mid-April. Is this too soon? In my case, I can bring them into the garage if a frost is expected (I assume on your rooftop garden, that's not really an option).

Russ C said...


It's hard to say if April would be too soon without knowing where you're located. If you know you're average "last frost date," you can look to a chart like this one: http://www.heirloomseeds.com/schedule.htm.

You can typically find these dates on gardening sites or general google searches.

If you're from Chicago, mid-April could be okay for the cool weather crops - lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, greens, kale, etc. You still don't want it to freeze though. A cover made from plastic, an old bed sheet, or moving into the garage is your best bet when temps fall below the 32 degree mark.

Let us know if you have any other questions. Thanks. -Russ

MrBrownThumb said...

Russ, checking last frost dates is a good way to go. But I start sowing seeds in February in Chicago with no problems. I start my seeds in the soda bottle greenhouses (you can read the tutorial on my garden blog)and that protects them pretty well until it is time to plant them out.

Russ C said...

Mr. Brown Thumb,

Thanks for visiting our little blog. We use the frost dates specifically for the vegetable varieties we grow and work backwards from there. As a note, we are starting 1/2 of our seeds this week (Feb) and the other next month (for summer crops). Bruce will be posting on our seed planting in the coming days.

The pop bottles are a great idea. We first learned about them from Bob Hyland in NYC and he has some more info on that sort of thing. I believe we may have links to his blog as well.

We'll continue to check in on your blog, since there's very useful information there. Thanks again.