Seed starting time!
W and I have been determined to do things slightly less chaotically this spring than usual. Every spring, suddenly we’re behind, it’s super warm, and we’re a hot mess of “when are we going to find time to start seedlings” and dirt on the kitchen floor. But, for the first time in my 9+ years of having a full garden, I believe I ordered my seeds BEFORE they were supposed to be planted! Also, we started a garden journal where we can keep track of our planting schedule, garden plots and other garden tidbits each year. It has helped to make room in advance on our calendar – after all, this is a priority!
This year, we’ll start out with 4 garden beds, hoping to add more. They are pseudo-raised beds, made from salvaged timbers we found strewn around and under the barn when we moved. We’ve filled them with grass clippings and leaves in the fall and sprinkled in chicken manure over the winter to kill the underlying grass and enrich the soil. A month before we plant – so, soon – we’ll rent a tiller and till in the compost to prep for planting. Then we don’t plant to re-till, but instead find some sort of balance between a raised bed and a no-till bed. We’ll let you know how this all works out, of course!
Our go-to potting system in the past has been to create small, compostable newspaper planters, filled with organic potting soil to start our seeds. It’s easy to do, albeit a little messy. Roll a folded piece of newsprint around a wine bottle (about half-way up), tuck the ends into the divot in the bottom of the bottle, slide it off and then fold down the cup’s edges to make it more secure. Adding dirt holds the cup in place. Plant, whole, or slightly broken up, when the time comes. However, my mom gave us dozens of small seed-starting pots that she had been collecting, so we’re nixing the above method for something a little less DIY and a little more time saving. Another aspect of seed starting that has been a struggle in the past is seed markers. I’ve used color systems, charts, popsicle sticks, and markers of all shapes and sizes…to mediocre luck at knowing what I’m planting come transfer time. This year I found an ingenious solution that I think will weather the 8 weeks and beyond – lengths of Venetian blind slats (I want to get rid of all the old blinds in this house, anyway; cutting one up was very satisfying) with permanent marker notations. Not only are they sturdy, but they look rather professional, if I do say so myself!
Two weekends ago we started our earliest seeds – tomatoes (8 varieties, half pastes), radishes (2 varieties), arugula, bell peppers, Serrano peppers, onions, cabbages, and eggplant. We also started about 50 asparagus seeds, which is going to be interesting – we’d like a permanent asparagus bed, but know it takes time. Everything we’re planting is either heirloom or organic (or both). Most of what we’re planting is from seeds we’ve kept from previous years. WV and I use a turkey baster to gently water them every other day. The radishes and arugula popped up within a few days (!) but the tomatoes were worrying me…on the 7th day I looked up some info and found that covering them with plastic to trap moisture would help them. I also turned on a space heater nearby to warm things up. Two days later, and we had baby tomatoes!!!
This weekend we’ll plant beans, Brussel sprouts, collards, kale, and swiss chard. In mid-March we’ll plant cucumbers, pumpkins, summer squash, watermelon and other melons. We’ll direct sow carrots, corn, soy, hops, spinach and lettuce. We’d like to build some frames for training cukes, beans and hops up. And the flowers, oh the flowers. We’re going to till up a strip of space between the house and garden beds for some serious fleurs. Sunflowers, coxcombs, Yorktown onions, zinnias, lupine, and a variety of wild flower mixes. Also, there’s a little secret garden tucked away in the corner of the house (have already planted a fig tree, a honeysuckle vine, and a rose bush there) where some more flowers can go.
We have spring fever, clearly! Do you? Have you started your garden planning/planting yet? What are you doing differently this year?
This post is shared with Crafty Garden Mama’s Tuesday Greens, the Backyard Farming Connection’s Hop, Back to the Basics Tuesday’s With a Twist Hop, Maple Hill 101’s Hop, Tilly’s Nest Down Home Hop, Montana Homesteader’s Green Thumb Thursday, Oak Hill Homestead’s HomeAcre Hop, and Grassfed Mama’s Simple Saturday Hop.
Nice inventory! That is wonderful… We are slowly planning as well. Last frost here can be as late as mid-to-late May so no seed starting until mid-march, but we are slowly getting our space prepared. It’s a wonderful time of year for sure!
It’s always amazing to me the stark contrast in grow zones…our est last frost is mid-April. Also, we keep our house so cool that sometimes I worry we should even start earlier! Good luck in your planning! To tasty veggies!!!
To tasty veggies indeed!!!! We are pretty excited this year as well because we saved a lot of our seeds last year. 🙂 Hopefully, we did it right! Plus, my daughter has requested her own plot. Those are the words a proud mom loves to hear!
I have tried starting onions this year already. No sprouts yet but onions are slow!
I know! We have never tried before – ours began sprouting at day 6…now to keep them alive until they are “oniony!” Good luck!
Wow! Sounds like you have a great plan! I agree it seems to always be difficult to get things started on time. I was only a week late this year! And you reminded me I need to start a garden journal…I keep meaning to but forget!
Thanks! And glad to provide a reminder! Now, if only we can keep up the journal, lol! Since we’re planting in a whole new place this year I’m extra worried about how everything will grow…fingers crossed! Good luck with your seeds too!
Isn’t it lovely to be able to start seeds? Sounds like you’ve got a great start! I’d love for you to share this on The Maple Hill Hop!
Thanks, Daisy! I went over to your blog and added it to your link-up. And I realized, I’ve been there before…maybe through Soule Mama? Small (blogger) world! Have a great day!
Looks like a great plan! We woke up to 5 degrees and snow this morning. Not quite time to think about seeds here yet 😦 But soon, very soon!
I hear you, dang grow zones…it always seems like come Jan 1st, I’m ready to plant! It’s just begun to flurry here…ah well, the seedlings will stay warm inside for now. 🙂
Best wishes with getting organized with the gardening this year! I always start out organized (ok, not always) and then somewhere around June everything goes to heck in a hand basket!
I hope you’ll share you garden plans with us on The HomeAcre Hop tomorrow!
Yes, by June I’m consumed with weeding blues, over-sized squashes, and behind on tedious task of organic bug elimination. But oh, for a spot of June right now, right!?
Ooh- old venetian blinds- that’s a good tip- it’s always a bit of a guessing game around here too when it’s transplanting time, But I always figure it out in the end- I think 😉
It’s so nice to see planting, gives me hope that Spring may actually come soon! It’s still a little early for seed starting here. But I may have started a couple things anyway….. 😉
So Organized! I love your beds too. Thanks for linking up at the Simply Saturday Blog Hop
Thanks! I fear we only “appear” organized… 😉
Have to tell you something. That permanent marker on the blinds? Not so permanent in the garden! Had me wondering if popsicle sticks were a better plan, as much as I loved repurposing my blinds. I think I will try direct seeding some peas here in the PNW, even though I never had much luck with them before. Maybe sweet peas, food for the soul if not the body! Enjoyed finding your blog.
Ah, shoot, well we shall see if they hold up in our garden…so far, so good (indoors). I’ve found popsicle sticks get icky from moisture and the permanent marker on them runs, too…what’s a seed starter to do!? Good luck with your peas!!! Fresh peas in a salad…yum!!!
Love your tips on using the blinds to keep track of your seeds. I need to work on being more organized myself! Thanks for sharing your post on the HomeAcre Hop, I’m going to feature it on tomorrow hop. Hope to see you again tomorrow! – Nancy The Home Acre Hop