Seed Starting

Once it comes time to start my seeds, time starts moving really fast because there is a lot to do!

In mid February I started my onion seeds. I just put them in these flats and as you can see the varieties are separated by cardboard.

 I also harvested the last of my parsnips this month. It was getting to hot and they were sprouting green again on their tops.

 Dax was a good helper digging out the parsnips.

 Trees and forsythia bushes are blooming already. This one is in front of our house. I think it's a bradford pear.

The start of some of my other seeds. I got a mini soil blocker to start my seeds, then you put the mini blocks into the larger ones. The soil blocker works really well for things that don't like to be transplanted. I love my 2inch soil blocker. I'm still trying to decide if I like the mini.

Soil blocker = the bomb!

When you get excited about a soil blocker, you know you are a gardening geek. I have no shame about that :) I thought I posted about my new tool last year but when I looked through my archives I realized I didn't.

The benefit of the soil blocker is little to no transplant shock since it you don't put it in a container. I love this thing. It takes some technique to get it right. I will share the big secret to getting the blocks to stay together... lots of water! You have to make sure the soil is really pretty wet and of course packed in there. There are many tutorials on you tube about how to use it.
Here the blocks are all formed. They don't have to be perfect (as you can see mine aren't!). I put in 4 broccoli seeds and the rest spinach. When I direct seed spinach in the garden it never works that great for me. So hopefully this will be better.

 After putting in the seeds, I covered the dimples? or holes or whatever you call them with vermiculite. Then watered it just a tiny bit where the vermiculite is.

Homemade seed mix

At the beginning of February, I did some research and decided to make my own seed mix this year. I normally use a soil blocker. The soil blocker takes a ton of soil since it compacts it into squares. I plan on making some this week since I need to start my broccoli and spinach seeds. So having my own mix will save lots of money.

However, for the onion seeds, I didn't bother with the soil blocker and put them into a tray. The soil will be dumped later on and they will be individually planted so no need to mess with the blocker for them. The onions were a good test to see if the mix worked.

I stayed with a sterile mixture, no compost or soil.
3 gallons peat moss (bought in a big square at lowes)
about a half gallon of vermiculite
2 Tablespoons limestone

So far so good!

I think I may need to add some kind of fertilizer once they get bigger.

Indoor seeds- 7 days later...

Yesterday, my one of my tomato seedlings finally came up. And today there are lots more, including some of the basil.

Now that they are finally up, I could see how my light set up was working. The result? Well the shop light I brought up from my art room was on one side, and the specialty "plant" light on the other. I just find it funny the all the seedlings grew towards (you guessed it) the regular old shop light. So I packed up those "plant" lights and they went right back to home depot today. And I got some more 5000k (mine fits T12's) lights. They are half the price of the specialty ones too.

Another thing I found is that my window is a bit cool, so I've been taking the seedlings down by the fire at night to sleep :) During the day, they go back up to my bedroom under the lights. I'm hoping that warmth from the fire will help my peppers germinate.

New seeds!

A big part of the fun for me in gardening is planting interesting varieties that I wouldn't find in an ordinary grocery store. But of course that needs to be balanced with things I know we will eat.

A few of my seeds are inspired by my sister Amy who planted these last year and they looked yummy.  (Sorrel, ground cherries, lemon grass, thai basil)

The marshmallow herb I read is a natural remedy for acid reflux, which plagues me constantly.
Also, I will probably use it to make home made marshmallows since that's how they used to be made.

The huckleberries I've never tried before. Although I just read the seed package and it says they are poisonous when still green... which may be a problem with a certain 2 year old (last year he ate a large portion of our raspberries while they were still hard, white and unripe). So those will probably have to wait another year just to be safe.

Purslane and watercress- I know most people consider them weeds and I could probably find them in my backyard, but not in large enough amounts. I have a green smoothie book that I love and she suggests all kinds of greens- these being 2 of them.

The lemon squash had reviews about it that said it was squash bug resistant which I will definitely try since they are a huge problem here!

I hope they all grow because I'm excited to try them!

Indoor seeds

I finally got some of my seeds started inside.

When I first moved to Arkansas from Idaho (5 years ago!), I started seeds that year too. But growing seeds here was different because that first year all my seedlings ended up suffering from diseases because there is so much moisture in the air here.

After that year, I direct seeded everything or bought bigger plants from a nursery.

I'm giving the indoor seed starting another chance and I'm doing 2 things different this time around. First of all, I'm not using the "greenhouse" cover they give you for seed trays. And second, I invested in some extra light. I grabbed a shop fixture and plant florescent lights from Home Depot. I'm using that and my window to make sure those little seedlings have enough light and don't get leggy.

They are hanging out in my bedroom on the window seat. After hanging the light I realized my seed tray was wider than the area of light. I grabbed my other fluorescent light that I use
in my painting room and put next to the other and it was better. I'll probably return the one I got for a 4 bulb light.  Also, after reading online it said you could use a regular 4000k to 5000k fluorescent and it would be fine. I'll definitely update on how it goes since its all an experiment for me.

I know its kind of a makeshift set up but it's only for a little while :)

So far for seedlings I'm planting:

  • Cherry tomatoes- I've saved the best seeds for these for 3 years and they are great producers and fairly bug resistant
  • Amish Paste tomatoes- planted last year
  • Pantano Romanesco tomatoes- planted last year
  • California Wonder peppers
  • Serrano Peppers- planted last year liked them in salsa!
  • Sweet Basil
  • Genovese Basil
  • Cosmos
I ordered some more seeds too that came today!! It's exciting even though we still have snow outside. I will share my spoils soon.