Urban Homesteading - Seed Starting

| 1/14/2010 4:35:28 PM

It’s melting!! After the historical snow and cold the Midwest has experienced, sunshine, temperatures above 32 and puddles of melted snow are a welcome sight. Does this signal that spring is right around the corner? Well – not quite.

But as would be expected, this change in weather towards more hospitable conditions has triggered a plethora of conversation about seed ordering and starting, which catalogs are the best and just how much we each plan to grow this year. A group of us at the office have joined forces to order six different varieties of potatoes from Wood Prairie Farm in Bridgewater, Maine. The company offers 18 potato varieties. We’ll share the seed potatoes so we all can grow each kind. I have just 24 feet of space in my potato patch, but that shouldn’t limit the varieties I plant. It will be such fun in the late summer to dig up the potatoes and find a wide variety of colors and sizes.

Our editor-in-chief, Cheryl Long, designed and built a bookcase/grow light for seed starting. The office gardening group has plans to start some tomato and pepper seeds to get our gardening off to an early start. A seed packet always contains more seeds than I can use – especially with my four small 4-by-8 raised beds. I planted six tomato plants last year that grew like weeds. But they were so close together the tomatoes struggled to have their faces in the sun. By sharing the seeds and starting them here, we each can take home the number of plants we have room for.

To continue this share-the-load group effort all growing season, we’re considering gathering for lunch once a week to discuss our gardening successes and failures. As the weeks progress, I’ll share some of the most interesting developments with you.

How is your garden planning coming along? What are you doing to prepare? Let us know by posting a comment below.

unusual farm chick_2
2/20/2010 6:13:39 PM

I planted a pot of Dragon toungue beans a few weeks back. I could not help but get going early on a few things. I usually start a small portion of seed in February, despite our first frost free day being mid to late May. I start the rest of the garden seeds the begining of March and on into the month according to moon planting guides. I set up a hanging shop light with grow light bulbs in a corner of my living room and use an old folding dinner table to keep them at waist height. I also have a 3 tier metal wire shelf I start the earlier seeds on. There is a small 2 ft grow light hanging from the top shelf and seed trays rotate every 12 hours between the 2 shelves. This way, I need just the 1 light. the 2 trays keep rotating to get their 10-12 hours of light until they no longer fit between the shelves. Then I just transfer it out with slower growing trays from my shop light big table set up, until plant out time. The dragon tongue beans grew amazingly fast. I plan to rig up some twine going from the the high curtain rod in the South window down to the low coffee table beneath it. This way, we can have garden greenery before the bliss of getting dirty can be indulged. We are also experimenting with window potatoe growing along with a few other things so I can just transplant them to the "early house" aka solar pit, for early food goodness. :)

Papillion Gardens Homestead_2
2/2/2010 10:14:05 PM

Oops sorry, didn't mean to post that as my comment! We start lots and lots of seeds and use a majority of them and give away a ton of seedlings. It's just a great way to get through the winter. I make almost all of my seed starter containers recycling toilet paper cores that many in the community save for me...and then stapling them in "6 packs". Sometimes I broadcast seeds in the plastic "shoe box" containers then transplant those seedlings....we did that today, over 100 bell peppers. Liked the mini-blind plant tags comment. Works great and they are usually cheap at a garage sale or occasionally I have friends who give me several when they are cleaning out their garage. Those last for years. After I get a 4 leaf plant we transplant if they were not already started in their own container....then into the cold frames they do ....cinder blocks with recycled old windows on top. Not real pretty but they work great! Just hoping the weather calms down in South Texas sometime in March. At least starting my own plants allow for a late planting if need be.

Papillion Gardens Homestead_2
2/2/2010 10:07:32 PM

Come with us on our journey to create a CSA farm in an effort to become partially self sustaining and to provide farm to table product to the community. Also, our trials and tribulations with an ongoing project to create a bird, butterfly and hummingbird sanctuary on our little farm.

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