Friday, April 1, 2011

Garden Stuff - Starting Seeds

Like everything else, I was late starting my seeds this year. Not that I'm super down about it, it's been too cold for anything to be outside anyway. Luckily I did get a couple spring beds in early, and we have sprouts popping up all over. I love seeing so much green!

I put off starting my summer stuff this year, like every year, mainly because of the bad luck I always have starting from seed. The poor little seedlings always die off, usually from lack of water. Not this year though. Let's work backwards and start by looking at what I end up with. (My apologies, this is the only picture...I was trying to do this while the kids were still up)

 This seed tray came from the Dollar General, it cost $4 plus tax and has 72 cells (meaning it will hold 72 seedlings).  The seed starter you see is a mix of seed starter from the DG ($1.50 x2= $3 for 4 qts). This years starter impressed me for the simple fact that they used real vermiculite and not styro to hold water. This is an improvement of huge proportions.

Mixed with the 4 qts of store bought seed starter (which I highly recommend) is about 2-3 qts of sifted, sterilized homemade compost. (I had about 1 qt of mix left over) There are many good books and websites that tell you how to make compost, so I'll let you do your own research. I will also being a doing a post about how we make ours, so look for that.
 *Sterilizing is important because once you put the warm water in the container and put that lid on, if there's something funky in your dirt, believe me it will multiply faster than rabbits. In the process it will kill your seedlings (aka damping off).

More material gathering... I needed something to mark what was planted where, and I didn't have the money (or the desire) to back to the DG and find something. Craft cabinet...nope, no popsicle sticks (checked the freezer too. nothing). can't use paper, because it will get soggy. I tried a number system once before, having a paper to refer to...way too complicated. Plastic markers (as much as I hate plastic) were the way to go, I figured. I do not have the knife skills to make little wooden shims all the same size and big enough to write on, for those of you wondering where my inner hippie had gotten to... so I did the next best thing, I recycled.

The plant markers were made with pieces of old plastic mini-blinds. I hate mini-blinds. They are ugly, a pain to clean, ugh. Can't stand them, don't care what they're made of. I have removed most of them from our home, but there are a couple left up. My gold mine! If you don't have any that are already starting to crack (they will), just snip a couple from the very bottom (being careful not to cut the strings) nobody will notice, trust me. It took me about 3 of them, I think, with very little scrap. Just make sure they're short enough for the lid to sit on there properly. Write the names on there with a permanent marker.

So yeah, that's all I used, other than warm water and seeds. Our seed collection is a little ridiculous, so there's a lot of stuff in this starter. I planted 2-3 seeds in each section, and at least 2 of each plant. If you want to do a smaller set of seedlings, go for a smaller container. They had one that came with starter material already in the individual sections, it was half the size and the same price ($4). Don't start too large, or it could become intimidating and make you want to give up (been there too).

I hope your garden experiences this year are happy and fruitful. Let me know if you have any tips for starting seeds, or if there's something you do differently.
Thanks for reading, drive safe.