It’s now a race to get everything in the ground! A week of forecast storms and rain has turned into mainly beautiful weather, warm soil and happy plants. The potting shed is getting empty as the field fills up, which is a good feeling. Although there are always more seeds, more plants and an exciting season ahead.

What’s Being Seeded?

This week we’ve seeded a black sesame (seeds from a seed swap) and a standard sesame (seeds from Monticello). Germination is good, and we’re excited to grow ‘Benne’ as a classic southern crop with so many uses.

Meg Chamberlain of Fermenti also gifted us some Moravian Peanuts, which have been grown in her husbands family for generations. I’m sure we can spare a row for these wonderful peanuts.

We’re also continuing to grow and catalog a wide range of okra varieties, although this year only have about 20 varieties going in the ground. That allows us to grow a larger population and getting a better sense of the plants. But seeding and sharing the okra has led to some germination questions. So, we’ve developed what seems to be a fool proof model.

Here’s what we know:

1. Soaking okra seeds speeds up germination.
2. When seeds are first soaked, the ones that float will have 0% germination. Sometimes I’ll give the seeds a quick stir and some will sink that were floating. It’s easy to pour off the floating seeds and then refill. If seeds float on the refill I pour them off too.
3. After 12 hours of soaking, some seeds that first sank will now float, but these will still have great germination ( see left side of the photo below).
4. The seeds that sink show great (near perfect) germination, (right side of photo (seeds are still emerging).
5. If not sowing soaked seeds immediately, or if sharing seeds, then seeds can be briefly float tested to separate nonviable seeds and then sinking seeds can be rapidly dried (I use the fan only setting, no heat, of my dehydrator). No more embarrassing okra seed sharing and 100% sow to germination rate.

Okra seed germination testing.

Left side: seeds which at first sank but after 12 hrs soaking were found floating. Right side: seeds that sank and stayed sunk. Seeds that floated in the beginning were poured off and discarded.

Here’s some of the okra we’re planting:


Sweet Potato Slips and Beautiful Sweet Potato Greens

This year we are growing out about 40 varieties of sweet potatoes from tubers which are two years old, so we know all of these varieties are great storage tubers. At the moment the tubers are all sprouting in a greenhouse. Here’s a snap shot of some of the beautiful diversity in the leaves. Remember these leaves area edible!