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Started some seeds

March 1, 2010

In my garden notebook the official beginning of the next year’s garden is when I plant the garlic in the fall.  But despite my hen scratching in that notebook, the day I start the first seeds signals the first time I really feel like I am beginning the garden for the year.

We’re still eating just fine from our stores, and nibbles here and there of greens from the garden and woods.  But for me it isn’t just the eating, it’s the entire process of gardening.  Simple things from the smell of the seeds, to the feel of the dirt under my fingernails.

I will not start seeds in the house, I would rather wait until when the days are a little longer and weather more moderate and start them in the greenhouse.  We have decided to rebuild one greenhouse, but when that will happen is a ways off, like maybe next year.  So in the meantime I am using the chick brooder greenhouse as my seed starting place.  It is after all a greenhouse, and seeds don’t take up that much space.  I won’t have chicks for two more months, so I may as well use the space for seeding, starting and potting on my starts.


It’s amazing how handy a chick hover  can be when there are no chicks underfoot.  It’s the perfect height for a potting bench and the flats fit nicely.  In here dirt and water can only be a good thing, in the house a pain.

I like to use a heated seedling mat to get things jump started.  It is still freezing at night here, despite the sunny days, so it really does make a difference in an unheated greenhouse.  During the day, I turn off the mat.  When these flats have germinated, I can move them and start more.  I don’t use lights, depending on the natural light  for the plants once they emerge.

Seeded yesterday:  (different varieties)
Spinach
Chard (2)
Mustard (3)
Arugula
Lettuce (5)
Bok Choy
Cabbage (3)
Tomatoes (3)
Peppers (5)
a couple of herbs
Celeriac
Celery

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25 Comments leave one →
  1. March 1, 2010 6:45 am

    I’m surprised you start spinach, chard and cabbage indoors. Our season is so much shorter and I find mine do better planted directly in the garden in April.

    • March 1, 2010 7:13 am

      Linda, I do some of both, our problem here is the wet soil in the spring – we may have rain for weeks on end. A transplant has a much better start than a seed. In a dry year we might squeak in a direct seeding in April but it’s a huge gamble. Same with the spinach, symphylans can make you think that your spinach seed never germinated – this way I at least know I have 48 spinach plants to set out.

  2. March 1, 2010 11:07 am

    I would love to have some place to start seeds. I just don’t get enough light in our house. Maybe someday….

  3. March 1, 2010 12:00 pm

    This makes me smile. 🙂 What zone are you in?

    • March 1, 2010 12:20 pm

      Jennifer, I would say zone 7a according to the USDA, each year it seems a little different. 🙂

  4. Ingrid permalink
    March 1, 2010 12:59 pm

    Hi Nita,

    As always, I am enjoying your blog posts. I thought I would pass some information on to you – something I ran across online. There is a lady here in So Cal making money selling manure tea bags for fertilizing! In these hard times, I know we are always looking for a little more income – maybe your daughter might be interested in this.

    http://jan.freedomblogging.com/2010/02/28/whats-a-manure-teabag/32005/

    Perhaps a nice addition to the college fund if she is so inclined? If nothing else it was an interesting article. 🙂

    Ingrid

  5. Allie permalink
    March 1, 2010 1:23 pm

    Thank you for your writing in this blog… I have learned a lot about homesteading from reading it.

  6. March 1, 2010 2:16 pm

    Wow…those manure tea bags are a really neat idea! Wish I was more industrious…we have cows and lots of poo! 🙂

    • March 2, 2010 6:25 am

      Jennifer, I was surprised at the innovation – it would be a money maker in an area with urban gardeners. Intriguing.

    • peacefulacres permalink
      March 3, 2010 5:40 am

      And they are cute to boot!

  7. March 1, 2010 4:06 pm

    Hi Nita,

    just curious what you do to combat the symphylans? Just rotate garden beds and let the ones under attack go fallow? I’m always looking for ideas since I don’t have the luxury of space.

    • March 2, 2010 6:30 am

      SE, I seemed to have the most trouble when I was selling salad mix, and amending the beds and irrigating on such a fast cycle, and mostly in the spring to early summer. Using transplants helped, instead of direct seeding. But now I am planting later, irrigating less (almost never) and haven’t had a problem since. Hope that helps.

      Sometimes they can be brought in with purchased compost, or potting soils and are a bugger to get rid of…

  8. March 2, 2010 4:35 am

    I have started mine indoors too, as I usually do. This year I added supplementary lighting in the south seed window to keep them from getting too spindley. I cannot move them to the coldframe/greenhouse for about another month or so here.

  9. March 2, 2010 6:32 am

    Sheryl, I’m at a the borderline date starting seeds in the greenhouse the first week of March. Sometimes I use a hot bed with manure, but this year I am using my seedling mat. We’ll see how I do, I may be reseeding in a couple of weeks…

  10. March 2, 2010 10:27 am

    Any good advice for someone who struggles with getting their celeriac to germinate in a timely fashion or is it just a stubborn starter in general? We have only been growing it for a couple years now and always have poor germination…but good luck with most all of our other seeds so our medium must be OK and I am always diligent in keeping the flats moist. Perhaps I just need to plant more seeds per flat.

    I can’t believe how green your grass is already, our chickens are so jealous of your Elk.:)

    • March 2, 2010 7:43 pm

      Mike, celeriac and celery are a two – three week proposition at 75F. I use a 200 cell flat, and put 3 or 4 seeds in each cell, they are tiny and it’s easy to cover them too deep. It may seem a waste of seed to some, but I got in these seeding habits when I had to do quick successions for sales. It always penciled out that the extra seed was cheaper than the wasted soil, time and effort, the end result was always missed sales. I could always find something to do with extras, but if I was short, I was SOL.

      Ahh, the grass, if only the pastures were starting out like the winter rye… Sigh.

  11. Ingrid permalink
    March 2, 2010 12:15 pm

    As always, I’ve learned something new from you, Nita! I had never heard of symphylans before. I”m wondering if that is what happened to my spinach, lettuce, carrots and beets that I direct sowed in some raised beds. We reclaimed this garden area a few years ago, and have been adding a lot of organic material to it. Only a few spinach seeds sprouted, nothing else. And now those have succumbed and died. Guess I will get going on starting seedlings in flats and pots and start over….

    • March 2, 2010 7:48 pm

      Ingrid, they’re pesky little buggers for sure. I have been doing more side dressing of crops too, instead tilling in so much before planting. Between that, and the other changes I’ve made, we have squeaked by without any for awhile – but as sure as I just typed this, I better go knock on wood 🙂 If you do successive transplants of something fast like spinach or arugula, you may see a pattern emerge in your garden and maybe that would help you see when the worst feeding time periods are, if that is the problem.

  12. March 2, 2010 2:14 pm

    I’m starting seeds in two weeks. The beginning of Day Light savings time. If I start to early I have trouble. Your flats made me anxious to get my hands dirty!!

    Linda
    http://coloradofarmlife.wordpress.com/

    • March 2, 2010 7:51 pm

      Linda, you guys have really been getting the cold. Soon planting time will be here before you know it.

  13. March 2, 2010 3:31 pm

    Hi, we’re sprouting some stuff here too.

    It’s been much colder than average lately and we have some tomatoes and peppers on the kitchen table waiting on the water barrels in the refurbished greenhouse to heat up. I also have a newly acquired salvaged-water-heater-and-washing-machine-bench-heater-contraption almost done but not quite.

    I hope it’s not impolite to offer but I just put up some pics and description of our new homemade sprouting cabinet on the blog if anyone is interested – please edit me if I’m being rude!

  14. March 2, 2010 7:55 pm

    Mike, thanks for the link, I checked out pics, and your set-up looks great – that is a lot plants, good luck on your sales!

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