Confession: I have never grown anything from seed before. The reason why is - if I were to walk outside of the house I grew up in, feet pointed in any direction, and start walking– within a couple of miles I would end up at a handsome roadside stand or a Shangri-La greenhouse. You could find almost any type of vegetable, flower, or herb you could think of for nil. So, I never really took it upon myself to start my own. It wasn’t until this year that I felt the need to give it a try. My feeling about it is that it’s pretty gratifying when you see the first sign of life peeking back at you (finally) after days of wait.
It isn’t very difficult to plant seeds - but there are a couple of things to think about beforehand. How big would you like your garden to be? Are you thinking of tilling your own yard, working from pots, or building a raised bed or other method? How many mouths would you like to feed? Are you planning on preserving anything for the cooler months? Do you have space and area with ample lighting for your sprouts?
These are some of the things I did not think about before I bought about $50 worth of organic seeds. :)
I’m a learn-as-you-go sort of person – so, it’s okay. Here’s a bit of advice if you’re doing things in the right order. Before you can move your seedlings outside (danger of frost) you have to keep them protected while still providing light. Window lighting is good but I’ve found that it may not be strong enough. Or – in my case, I had more than a pallet worth of seed starters, and no room indoors (… and cats)! A way to remedy this is by finding a location (basement or garage) and purchasing some artificial lighting. It’s fairly cheap. We purchased two large (think personal pan pizza circumference) reflector lights for roughly $12 at a home good store. As well as one compact florescent cool color temperature (6400K) bulb and one florescent warm color temperature (2700K) bulb. You can find this information right on the box. I think these were under a couple of dollars. The better option for your plants is to purchase long florescent lights (more even lighting for your seeds) but when you’re in a hurry and funds are low – this surrogate method will suffice. I think. We hung the lamps up about six inches above the plants and angled them so they were covering as much of the seeds as possible. If you’ve purchased the long lights – try to hang them at least four inches above your plants. Important: the reason you need both a warm and cool bulb is so that your plants grow both up and out. If you only have a warm lamp your plants will be spindly and tall. Only cool: short and stout. The plants still need darkness so plug your lights in when you wake up in the morning and pull the cord before bedtime.
As of this very moment in time; I have what looks to be pretty happy and healthy broccoli, brussels sprouts, a myriad of leafy greens, edamame, sugar snap peas, garden beans, and just the tiniest shoot of a Russian Krim Heirloom tomato. I’m still waiting to hear from my purple tomatillos, my sweet onions, zucchini, and peppers. I’m holding off until the garden beds go in to plant my carrots and pumpkins.
So let’s talk about getting carried away - because I do it a lot. When I thought about creating my own garden I was anticipating bare essentials. We live a very short distance from a ginormous amazing farmers market – so, I felt that I didn’t really need to go all out. I planned on planting just the basic ingredients for salsa: tomatoes, onion, and peppers. I also wanted a bed of lettuces and segregated areas for themed like-herbed growing areas. Well, once I started looking at seeds… I needed them all. Pretty soon, I was imagining myself in this large bountiful garden that I could spend all my carefree hours in. Not very realistic, and not really necessary. So while I’ve spent some money on more seeds than I really need – I feel pretty all right about it because, 1. I was supporting local, organic seed retailers, 2. I was able to donate my unused seeds to others and 3. Even with my overspending it was still less than what I would probably spend within an hour at the farmers market. Win win. I’d also like to add that I really, really love going to the farmers market just to be there. It’s a Saturday, families are out, everyone’s generally happy, it supports the farmers, and the baked goods are amazing. I’m sure that I will be there just as much as ever before even with a garden.
Since this is such a long post – I am leaving you with a ‘to be continued’. I have a lot, a lot, a lot of information on alternative gardening, themed pots, and around-the-house composting, pest remedies, and fertilizers that I will drop on the blog over the next two weeks. You’re going to love them! Stay tuned.
I listened to Warpaint's LP The Fool whilst sowing in my garage...
I'm particularly fond of this one.