Time to Plant...
An Idiot-Proof Guide To Seed Starting
Tuesday, March 14, 2017
Depending on the final outcome, I might want to title this post “An Idiot Starts Seeds”, but so far so good.
We decided last fall we were interested in starting our own seeds indoors. We had been very happy with the wide variety of seedlings we could get at local farmers’ markets, almost always unusual heirloom varieties as well. But we did feel like we were losing a few weeks in the spring for those crops we might otherwise have direct sown, not to mention the midsummer plantings we never seemed to make room for but missed by the fall. If we learned to start seeds indoors, our precious community plot space would be maximized.
One of our fellow gardeners made starting out incredibly easy, selling us her old grow light box, a 72 cell greenhouse kit and replacement bulbs for less than the price of two seedlings. The greenhouse kit came with little peat plugs - an enormous space saver when first sprouting seedlings. So much so, in fact, that we planted a dozen or so cabbage and broccoli seeds and found we had no room for the growing plants. Here’s the tray full of reconstituted peat pellets:
... and tiny pepper plants sprouting:
I went through our seed packets and pulled anything I could plant by mid May and popped them in. Germination was incredibly fast for all but the peppers, but I put the tray under the lights anyway and they came along several days later. And just two weeks later we had plants big enough to begin repotting in nifty little newspaper pots I learned to make on YouTube:
The transplanting was easy, and did away with the slight legginess the tomatoes had acquired since they germinated and started growing so quickly I hadn’t yet put them under the grow lights. I keep them on overnight for 12-14 hours, and cover the entire table during the day to allow the plants to rest.
And for those of you for whom space is an issue - the entire light box sits perfectly in our bathtub, which has the added benefit of containing anything messy or wet and keeping out the curious cats. Next up: fertilizing.
First Spring Planting
Sunday, April 26, 2015
It felt like it would never come, but a few weeks ago we were finally able to plant the first of our spring crops. For the last few years, before we put a single seed or seedling in the ground, we prepare each plot by digging a trench, loosening the soil with a claw, sprinkling in compost, and filling up the trench with the soil from the next.
The whole process doesn’t take long, given our tiny plots, and leaves the soil so beautifully aerated that we have to be careful not to step too heavily on them.
After the particularly hard winters, in our garden planted atop an old elementary school parking lot, we always dig up lots of debris. This was the biggest yet.
Our strawberry patch came with the plot five years ago, so it was time for new plants. We gave these plenty of room for runners, and planted lemongrass in between.
Fava beans, by far the most satisfying spring plant for its early germination, are popping up all over the garden.
Our wintered over spinach was ready for picking, and our garlic is growing nicely.
We finished the planting with carrots, lettuce, beets and tatsoi. By next week it should be safe to plant the tomatoes, just in time for the opening of Headhouse Farmers’ Market on Sunday.
Time to Plant: Lettuces
Wednesday, March 02, 2011
You can plant lettuces as soon as the ground thaws, and up to 8 weeks before the last frost date. That means now! Hurray! I planted my first lettuces tonight - yugoslavian red butter lettuce, red romaine, green butter, and red and green romaine. You can sow seeds directly into the ground, 1/4 inch deep, seeds spaced about one inch apart, and rows 10 - 12 inches apart. Pat down the dirt over your seeds, water and fertilize, and get excited about an early spring crop!