Garden Fever Prt.1: Starting Seedlings

It is definitely spring, and I’ve got garden fever! Yep, it is that time of year when I have gardening dreams of grandeur. And every year my plans fail miserably as I struggle to keep my unruly garden plot. Well this year I’ve decided to try something a little different… a minimal work deck garden! That means building raised beds that can sit on the deck, buying and prepping pots, and starting my seedlings!
Hmm, I’m thinking it’s time for another little series…how about a garden prep series! I’d love to share the process as I dream big but go practical this year. 

So it’s time to get to it! How about you? Have you started your indoor seedlings yet? If not, c’mon, it’s time to get a jump on it…hmm, by now you might be better served to wait a few weeks and direct sow depending on the vegetable type and your zone. 

Seedling Starters
I started the cucumbers, tomatoes, and peas two weeks ago and they are sprouting up fast! I have not yet finished building my raised beds that I’d like to their final home, so my choice for a quick seeding is to use my recycled plastics. These are old berry containers, and since they come with a cover, and a base with holes for drainage, they make for the perfect little “green house” to get my seeds started! 

Of course, there are many different seed starters I use. I tend to use whatever I have lying around, or purchasing whatever I find for a few cents at thrift stores. 
A few of my other seeding containers of choice are peat pots for seedlings that will grow larger faster, gallon orange juice or milk containers also work well for large growing plants. Cut off the top, and poke holes in the bottom. 

I also like using the Greenhouse Seed starter pellets. You hydrate the pellets, it is quick and easy, and they grow very well! Each year replace the pellets rather than buying the entire kit. 
Consider creating your own greenhouse seed starter kit for a fraction of the cost using aluminum tins with corresponding cover. 

Caring For Your Seedlings
I’m a busy mom, so I’m taking my time and staggering my seeding, and allowing the kids to have care of these fragile little plants. Of course, kids manage to make messes, even when it seems there is no possible mess to make all they need is thin air. *wry laugh*. So, I keep it simple, clean, and easy to keep my seedlings alive if possible… I allow the kids to water the newly sprouted seedlings with a small squirt bottle so as not to break the plants.

Another thing I love about using disposable aluminum tins, (besides creating a greenhouse effect for the seeds), is how simple and tidy it makes seed starting. The trays catch any water run off, makes it easy to move when it is time, and plants are clustered together to make watering as mess free as possible! I started my seeds in a sunny place in my laundry room, but will eventually moved them to a garage window where they can get the sunlight they need and begin to acclimate to the weather and more direct sun.

A little trick to aid with drainage is to place river rocks under your seedlings containers. It lifts them up a little so the water run-off doesn’t pool around the base of your plants. I learned the hard way that I needed to do this for certain types of plants after my kids “drowned” a couple seedlings last year. If they were a little older and more careful with the manner they watered older seedlings, it wouldn’t have been a problem. But once we graduate from the squirt bottle to a mini watering can, all bets were off so this made for a great solution!

Direct Potting
I love direct potting, there are no second or third potting necessary. Just be sure to choose the appropriate size pot for the plant. My potted plants are hanging out in my garage until the weather decides to cooperate. Keep your potted plants in a wagon and roll them out during good weather, and on days the temperature drops too low, roll them back in! This is a great minimal effort way to get an early start on your garden! 
I even gave my pots a little facelift with spray paint, but I’ll tell you more about that in the next blog post. If you are planning to create a potted garden, wait to seed your larger pots until my next post. I’m giving sub-irrigated planters (SIP’s) a try! I need my garden to be as self sufficient as possible, because as the years have taught me, I am just not a reliable gardener come late summer. Yes, every year I have abandoned my garden for summer vacations away… this year, I have a plan! *hopeful grin*

Happy seeding!
Read Part 2 here.

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2 Comments on Garden Fever Prt.1: Starting Seedlings

  1. liz
    July 22, 2013 at 12:04 pm (7 years ago)

    Great post, thanks for inspiring others to start their own seeds! I noticed your seedlings would probably benefit from more light and maybe an oscillating fan for enhanced air circulation. A simple florescent tube fixture within a couple inches of the seed starting mix would minimize the legginess you’re experiencing. Just keep moving it up to about 2 inches off the leaves as your plants grow. Even a south facing window is rarely enough light to start seeds indoors, especially in the northern climates. The fan will help create tougher stems. I highly recommend sterilizing your seed starting medium in the microwave before planting seeds, that might help with the damping off you are experiencing. Keep up the great work!

    • Ursula Carmona
      July 22, 2013 at 4:37 pm (7 years ago)

      Thank you for the recommendations! This year was the first I looked into some of those very things you mentioned. So I’m excited to hear you that! I can’t wait to see (and share) the improvements next year… Or perhaps I’ll give winter gardening a go!
      Thanks again! 😉


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