We started our spring ritual. There is no going back now. 600 + little seeds in the soil, mostly tomatoes. Last year was a fine pepper year, too, so I bought some new varieties to try. We will be growing many of the seedlings, and we are also offering some seedlings for sale.
As Karl detailed over at his blog, we are using the european potting blocks method this year. So far, I love it. It definitely pleases on an aesthetic level, which if you ask me is 95% of anything worth doing. We mixed the mini-blocker mix and waited, then Karl made the little blocks one after another and set them out on his trays that he made.
The mix is high quality and superior to bought 'potting soil.' It is also much less expensive than the soil we used to buy for our seed starting. You can see recipes here. In two weeks these tiny blocks will need 'potting on' to the 2" blocks we will make. There is a slightly different recipe for those. The tiny germination cubes are perfect for indoor, wood-fireside germination, and once they are up we can keep them out in the greenhouse in larger blocks of soil.
There are many reasons we felt the urge to change our methods from the purchased soil and plastic pots (recycled, but still). In no particular order, the conventional method is wasteful of space, of money and packaging. It is also flimsy as the pots will break down eventually. Perhaps the most important is the health of the seedlings, but even beyond that is the health of our soil. Whatever we may tell ourselves, that tiny 2"x 2" square of soil ends up in our garden, and shouldn't it be a boon, instead of a blight? Shouldn't we work with the very best, from the very beginning, leaving our soil better each year? You do what you can, when you can. And this year we can make this little change for the benefit of our farm.
By the way, the first impulse is to think, well we will do it the old way for seedlings we are selling. But we aren't. We just don't sell anything we wouldn't use for our family. We have to do it the best way, even if we did it differently last time.
These 600 are not enough, and today we will make more. I have many new herbs to start this year from Kristine's garden: elecampane, two bergamots, tansy, marshmallow, feverfew... I would like to get a good number of my annual herbs going as early as I can- like dill, cilantro and basil. I almost forgot, too: I snagged a ton of seeds from the Zoo last year.
Kassi started her surprisingly expensive Wave Petunias yesterday. Wish them luck! I limited the number of flowers she started but when we make the next group she can have at it. She will have in mind marigolds, daisies, snapdragons, bachelor's buttons, sunflowers galore, poppies, pansies, and every seed that others have sent her over the winter. She is a great gardener even at 5 and can be solidly trusted to follow through and grow beautiful beds.
Tristan and Anatoly want a raised bed each this year, too, after seeing Kassi's last year.
Even after the rush of spring planting this new system will serve us. We are growing fall cabbages this year, which we will have to start in July or August. Spring is both exciting and overwhelming.