Thursday, January 28, 2010

Seed Starting

We are getting closer each day to starting our garden seeds. As I sit here a giant winter storm is headed our way, so naturally I am dwelling on the seeds and spring.

Each year our seed starting ritual changes. Our first year we used a mix of wild soil and compost in those natural wood pulp pots. It was what we had, so we went with it. It worked very well, but we did not have trays to move the plants with, so I was constantly handling each pot. We had at least 200 of them! We also had to do it in the kitchen, with two curious children looking on. But somehow we survived and they all made it to planting time.

The next year, we also used the kitchen, but we added shelves to a window seat area which made keeping the plants safe easier. We changed mediums to those all-in-one trays you can buy, gradually repotting the baby seedlings into larger pots. This was also a fiasco, but we made it to harvest and that is what mattered.

In 2008, we added lights to our indoor situation. We also annexed the top of our large deep-freeze. We were starting more plants than we had room or light for, but they were thriving. They were robust when planting day came, in part because we were using liquid kelp to nourish them.

I was expecting a baby that year (aww, Rome! We love you!) and he was born at the end of July, which I think we can all agree does not bode well for tomatoes.

The our whole world changed (and not just because of Rome.) Karl built a little greenhouse. It changed everything. Now, we didn't have to worry about the safety of the plants. We didn't have to add light to their shelves. We didn't have to only plant what we had room for, either! Last year was our best year because of it, and I hope this year will also shine. We will have some change though. 2009's greenhouse doubled as a chick brooder, and 2010's will not. We have plenty of room down in our chicken coop for the brooders. It was sort of pleasant to have the excess heat of the brooder filling the greenhouse, but we paid for it in lack of space.

I know a lot of gardeners who like the soil block makers they sell through many supply catalogs. Looking at Johnny's makes me want to given them a try, but then I wonder how we will sell plants that have no pot. At least the smaller block makers would work until transplant. If, that is, they work, which I think it something I have to see to know. It is not that I doubt my friends, I just need to try it.

We have a very large supply of plastic, greenhouse quality pots from a friend who got them at an auction. Our transplant needs to work with them. We can use Jiffy pellets until transplant, buy seed starting soil ready-made for our trays, or buy the mini block maker, the ingredients for the mix, and do it that way. Whatever we choose, the transplant soil will be our own very finished compost. Also, we had better decide quickly!

I am dreaming of heat, and growth...
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