Sunday, February 28, 2010

Seedlings Day 1

My seeds have sprung the coup! These are the Roma tomatoes. I bought a clamp lamp today to provide more light to the seedlings. It's been so overcast outside that they aren't getting enough natural light. I also raised the temperature of our thermostat.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Seed Sowing 2010

Bring it on! It's that time of year again.

Based on my last spring frost date of 4/25/2010, it's time to start some of my veggie seeds. We're about 8 weeks out. Using several online sources like Victory Garden and Farmer's Almanac, I guesstimate a date because we live near the water and I think that can really alter our immediate outdoor climate. The Cheap Gardener summed it up here in this post. I found different dates so I'm going to give myself a few extra weeks in case we get frost again.

Using this personalized calendar from Skippy's Garden, you can sow your seeds according this schedule. I group certain seeds together and sow them all at the same time give or take a week because it's easier for me to keep track. Certain plants are okay if left crowded in their container for another week or two like tomatoes. (Tomatoes also get transplanted into individual cups or containers 2 more times before they are planted outdoors anyway.) However, certain plants like squash and cucumbers CAN'T wait much later to be placed outside; otherwise, they won't transplant well. If you doubt your frost date, then just wait. Later = warmer = better.

Seeds, tag markers, seed starting mix, clean containers. I bought seed starting mix, but normally I mix my own. I prefer to mix my own because seed starting mix is a rip off because it's just peat moss and I don't feel like it holds up as the plants get larger. Seed starting mix dries out very quickly too.

Last year, I bought a seed starting kit that came with 3 trays with cells in them. I don't like using them because each cell isn't large enough and it's difficult pulling the tender seedlings out of the cell. You don't want to handle the young seedlings very much because they ARE so tender. You want to make the transition as seamless as possible. Instead, I filled a large tray that I cleaned with hot water and detergent with mix. Then I divided my plants with a bamboo stick to keep it neat. I started a lot of seeds, but this year I am going to thin them like crazy because I only want 2-3 of each plant. Normally, it breaks my heart to thin them, but it must be done. (Thinning is when you when you pull the weak looking ones and trash them. so sad. )

Spray the top of the soil with water using a spray bottle. I use room temperature water or warmer because they need to stay warm in order to germinate. Why make it any harder on them? Keep the tray covered with saran wrap if you don't have a plastic clear cover. Used cookie containers from the supermarket work great also! Keep the soil moist all the time. The top shouldn't be dry. Keep it in the bright warm area or use lamps and electric seedling mats to keep the temperature up.

Basil insisted I grow some of this. I have no idea why he wants me to grow this, do you?

Let the games begin!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Companion Planting

For the last few days, I have been sketching and doodling how I would like to set up my garden bed this year. It's been more difficult than I thought. The more I looked into each plant, the more difficult it was for me to decide where each plant would go and who it would with. Also, I had to consider spacing and direction of the sun.

After I drew a preliminary plan, I went back to check that none of the plants would "clash" or better yet, what plants would make good companions. This website has a great breakdown on companion planting.

From north to south:

Bed 1: Radishes > Cucumbers + Dill
Bed 2: Spinach > Eggplant + Chili peppers + Nasturtiums
Bed 3: Dahlias + Chard > Patty pan squash > Winter Kale
Bed 4: Bok choy + Carrots > Sweet peppers + Onions + Chamomile + Petunias + Parsley
Bed 5: Lettuce + Sugar snap peas + Snow peas > Roma, Persimmon, Black Krim, Grape Tomatoes + Basil + Cilantro + Zinnias + Marigolds

What do you think? Any suggestions? What are you doing? What works for you?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Spring. Please kick Winter's butt!

I popped into Lowe's a few days ago for some items for our bathroom when a green shimmer caught my eye. Oh yes! What was it you ask? The staff was setting up the stands for all the seeds, bulbs, pots and seed starting kits! Oh my!

There may be 32" of snow outside, but I can feel spring coming.

I couldn't help but look. I told myself I would only look, but I walked away with a few packets of scallions, chamomile, grape tomatoes, and bok choy.