Saturday, February 25, 2012

Starting Seeds

So I had this brilliant idea that my two year old and I would have a lovely afternoon planting seeds. What a test in patience! I think for this year he will be much better at watching them grow and picking the finished product!  I have been growing warm season veggies (tomatoes, peppers, cukes, beans and herbs) for over 6 years now, but after starting the square foot gardening method (more on that later) I am venturing into cool season veggies! Most of the seeds (carrots, radishes, beets, snap peas, lettuce, spinach) can be sown right into the garden  a month or so before the last spring frost, but some, particularly veggies in the cabbage family, need to be started now and then transplanted into the garden later. I have never started my own seeds indoors and I think I am opening a door into a wonderful new aspect of gardening!!! Now I won't be at the mercy of the nurseries not so great variety of GMO plants. Which opens another door into yet another fabulous world of gardening...heirloom seeds! Most of the plants grown these days are genetically modified but heirloom seeds are ancient seeds from around the world that have earned their success through natural selection. And the variety is out of this world!!! Yellow and white cucumbers, pink, white, and purple radishes, striped beets, yellow and red carrots, purple cauliflower, more varieties of tomatoes than you can imagine, and, well, you get the picture!  So yesterday I planted 3 cabbage, 3 broccoli, 3 cauliflower, 4 kale and 4 rainbow chard, and now the adventure begins! Over the growing season, I will break down gardening in a way that will make even the most hesitant and skeptical person excited to garden! It truly is quite easy, especially with the square foot method, and probably ranks as one of the most rewarding, and satisfying hobbies to take up.
I will be starting my tomatoes and peppers by seed when I get back from Florida around March 20th, so if anyone is interested in joining me, here is what you will need:
1. a seed growing kit like the one above with drainage tray, individual cells, and a cover
2. good potting soil
3. labels (I used popsicle sticks)
4. your seeds (I ordered mine online from
5. a grow light. They are pretty pricey but it is a one time investment. If you are confident that you have a really sunny spot in your house, you can always start that way and invest in one down the road if you are not successful. 
6. And if you are getting in to gardening, you just might as well order Mel Bartholomew's Square Foot gardening book because it is pretty much the best gardening resource you will own.
7. And don't forget you need a spot to grow them!!! As you will learn from the square foot method, all you need is a 4ftx4ft square, preferably raised, in a really sunny spot. If you are new to gardening, I would just start with one. You can always add more squares down the road as you become more experienced (and if you have the room)
This is my garden from last year. I currently have four 4x4 squares and am planning to add 4 more so that I can get into growing cutting flowers too. But one 4x4 square will have 16 square feet which means you can grow 16 varieties of vegetables, so it will easily keep a family of 4 in salad veggies for the season.


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