Hmm, I'm thinking it's time for another little series...how about a garden prep series! I'd love to share the process as I dream big but go practical this year.
So it's time to get to it! How about you? Have you started your indoor seedlings yet? If not, c'mon, it's time to get a jump on it...hmm, by now you might be better served to wait a few weeks and direct sow depending on the vegetable type and your zone.
I started the cucumbers, tomatoes, and peas two weeks ago and they are sprouting up fast! I have not yet finished building my raised beds that I'd like to their final home, so my choice for a quick seeding is to use my recycled plastics. These are old berry containers, and since they come with a cover, and a base with holes for drainage, they make for the perfect little "green house" to get my seeds started!
A few of my other seeding containers of choice are peat pots for seedlings that will grow larger faster, gallon orange juice or milk containers also work well for large growing plants. Cut off the top, and poke holes in the bottom.
I also like using the Greenhouse Seed starter pellets. You hydrate the pellets, it is quick and easy, and they grow very well! Each year replace the pellets rather than buying the entire kit.
Consider creating your own greenhouse seed starter kit for a fraction of the cost using aluminum tins with corresponding cover.
Caring For Your Seedlings
I'm a busy mom, so I'm taking my time and staggering my seeding, and allowing the kids to have care of these fragile little plants. Of course, kids manage to make messes, even when it seems there is no possible mess to make all they need is thin air. *wry laugh*. So, I keep it simple, clean, and easy to keep my seedlings alive if possible... I allow the kids to water the newly sprouted seedlings with a small squirt bottle so as not to break the plants.
Another thing I love about using disposable aluminum tins, (besides creating a greenhouse effect for the seeds), is how simple and tidy it makes seed starting. The trays catch any water run off, makes it easy to move when it is time, and plants are clustered together to make watering as mess free as possible! I started my seeds in a sunny place in my laundry room, but will eventually moved them to a garage window where they can get the sunlight they need and begin to acclimate to the weather and more direct sun.
A little trick to aid with drainage is to place river rocks under your seedlings containers. It lifts them up a little so the water run-off doesn't pool around the base of your plants. I learned the hard way that I needed to do this for certain types of plants after my kids "drowned" a couple seedlings last year. If they were a little older and more careful with the manner they watered older seedlings, it wouldn't have been a problem. But once we graduate from the squirt bottle to a mini watering can, all bets were off so this made for a great solution!
I love direct potting, there are no second or third potting necessary. Just be sure to choose the appropriate size pot for the plant. My potted plants are hanging out in my garage until the weather decides to cooperate. Keep your potted plants in a wagon and roll them out during good weather, and on days the temperature drops too low, roll them back in! This is a great minimal effort way to get an early start on your garden!
I even gave my pots a little facelift with spray paint, but I'll tell you more about that in the next blog post. If you are planning to create a potted garden, wait to seed your larger pots until my next post. I'm giving sub-irrigated planters (SIP's) a try! I need my garden to be as self sufficient as possible, because as the years have taught me, I am just not a reliable gardener come late summer. Yes, every year I have abandoned my garden for summer vacations away... this year, I have a plan! *hopeful grin*
Read Part 2 here.