Planting Seeds

I know, it may be a little early to start, but I figure I should get into the habit of blogging about the garden.  I’m trying all kinds of crazy and new things this year- both the method and the vegetables I’m growing.  About a month ago I finally got in my seeds.  It was so exciting to open up those packages and see all these lovely seeds gazing back at me.  I had to laugh at myself as I looked at these seeds, because there are so many.  I ordered so many varieties to try…you would think I was planting a full acre instead of a few raised beds.  Maybe someday, but in the meantime, I’m using my small space to its fullest and learning.  I’m learning everything I can, because I love growing vegetables.

Two weeks ago I planted my first tomato seedlings.  And since they’ve been growing rather nicely, I decided it was time to “pot them up”.  They needed more room to grow, especially since some of the seedlings were sharing pots.  So this week I stopped by the garden center and picked up some pots and a massive bag of potting mix.  As long as I was there, I also picked up more seedling trays too for starting some more seeds.

I don’t have south facing windows that I can put seeds in, and I really don’t like the idea of using electric lights to start seeds, so I’ve created my own portable greenhouses.  They need to be portable because while I don’t have windows, I do have two large patio doors that face south, so I need to be able to move the seeds out of the way to go in and out.  I started with three plastic storage totes.  In this photo below you see some pots at the back of the tote, the pots each have three tomato seeds in them.  The smallest single pots each have one tomato seed in them.  My seedlings have been doing so well, I thought I’d start a few more to give away.  In the seed trays in the front are my sweet bell peppers and the hot Chile De Comida peppers.

In this next tray to the left you see some of the seedlings in their new pots.  Each seedling got it’s own pot to grow into.  In the seed trays in this one we have a bit of a variety.  We have four cells of Anaheim Chiles, four cells of tomatillos, and four cells of okra.  Then you see one pack of cells covered with plastic- that is two varieties of eggplant which specifically said they wanted to stay moist, so I covered them with plastic while I finished potting the rest of the seeds.  There’s also two more small pots of one tomato seed each.

And finally, this tote is my finished product.  These are all established seedlings in here, and you can see how my little greenhouses work.  I cover each tote with sheets of plastic wrap to hold the heat in.  The sunlight beats in during the day, and on the cloudy grey days, I make sure the seeds have been watered, and then I slide the totes up next to a heat register and pull open just one corner of plastic wrap.  Some of that warm air flows in, so they get the heat they need to germinate.  Every three days or so, on a bright sunny day I pull off the plastic, give fresh water, and let them air out so that we don’t get anything getting moldy.  This is working very well so far, I’m anxious to see how the new batch of seeds works out.

And finally, did you notice my labels for each plant?  With seven tomato varieties, four peppers, two eggplants, etc.,  I definitely needed to keep track of which plant was which.  When I was at the garden center, I was going to pick up some little plastic markers, but when I looked at them, they looked an awful lot like plastic dinnerware- specifically, knives.  Since I have two cases of plastic tableware in the basement, it was a no-brainer to go grab a handful of plastic knives and use a sharpie to label each plant.  My markers are plastic, so I don’t need to worry about them corroding- we’ll see how the sharpie lasts once outside.  The knives will move with the plants into the soil when they go.  Worst case scenario- as I told Andy, that’s what I draw a map for every year, so I know which plant is where.

If you’re looking for more garden news in the weeks and months to come, just click on the “Garden 2008? category, and all of my posts will pop up for you.  I’m very excited about the weeks ahead, as we look now to prepping the soil outside to receive some seeds and plants.  We have another bed to build this year, and maybe a surprise or two for the front yard.  It’s an exciting year ahead!

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