Monthly Archives: October 2012

Don’t wait too long to order your seeds

Ciao everyone;

If you decide not to collect viable seeds from your heirlooms (non-hybrids) and need to purchase them from your favorite seed company, now is a good time to do so, before they run out of stock. Last week I tried to order organic heirloom shallot seeds (not bulbs) from one of the more reputable catalogue companies and they already had sold out.  Shop early for that particular reason and do it before the new catalogues arrive to purchase seeds at the current price.

Also, when dealing with retailers, insist on getting the item which you ordered instead of letting them manipulate you into settling for substitutes; check off the refund box if such an item is unavailable.

If you’re not satisfied with a good germination rate, inform the company and demand a refund. Several years ago I ordered yellow pepper seeds that failed to germinate in three attempts, and when I notified the company they acknowledged the problem and refunded my money. Has this ever happened to you, and did the company reimburse your money?

Making it an issue may sound cheap or petty, but a delay may disrupt the growing time frame and affect your future crop. Remember, the secret of growing organic heirlooms is to start at the right time, and a significant interruption can result in failure. Make your plans well in advance, use viable organic seeds, and don’t leave anything to chance.

Ci risentiamo,

Nick Mancini the Organic Italian

Get Ready for Winter Gardening

 My fellow gardeners;

Since my tender vegetation was destroyed by the frost last Friday night, it’s now time to focus on the heartier cold season crops such as lettuce, spinach, rucola and the rest. I have already installed my homemade ½ PVC hoops in two 10’ raised beds, which will be draped with spun fabric when the cold spell arrives. I’m also utilizing the small cold frame which is now taken up by two wooden half barrels where I grew tomatoes and peppers; this little enclosure is also used to harden-off seedlings in early spring. Another sheltered Imagearea  against the south facing wall of the house has been planted with different types of lettuce and onions and when the temperature drops below freezing, I’ll protect it with discarded window panes found at the dump. Plus I’m getting ready to re-assemble my larger cold frame (4’x9’) built with wood, insulated with Styrofoam around the outside and covered with thermo panes.

  My fig tree also needs wrapping, and since I love the fruit, doing the work is not an issue, in fact, it gives me pleasure to keep it from perishing.

  Gardening year round is fun but takes time, and for gardeners like me who thrive on success, a good challenge is part of this great hobby.      

  Give winter gardening a try, you’ll enjoy it,

  Nick Mancini, The Organic Italian

Are you growing shallots?

Cari Ortolani;

As we know, shallots are related to garlic and onions and like their family members, they can be sown in the fall and harvested in late spring. Planting in the fall usually yields larger bulbs, and they can also be used as spring-green-onions when the tops grow 5-6 inches. Since one bulb produces several new ones, from 6 upward, it’s not necessary to plant as many as garlic cloves. Save the best stock to reseed and don’t wait until the ground freezes. I plant my French Red and Dutch Yellow about November 1st so they’ll root before the ground becomes completely frozen.

A more challenging way to grow shallots is to germinate seeds indoors and transplant outdoors during spring. This will produce a smaller yield but free of most diseases like bacterial, viral or fungal, which commonly affects most bulb-grown plants. Before planting, I like to soak the seeds overnight and immerse in a worm casting tea for 20-25 minutes.

Plant in a sunny location and amend your  soil with a copious amount of organic worm compost and an organic fertilizer (10-15-10). Also, make sure the nutrients are incorporated at root level.

Ci risentiamo,

Nick Mancini, The Organic Italian