Monday, 21 March 2011

Tough Love

When I planted my seeds I put a couple or, in this case, three seeds into the soil hoping that one would take. As you can see, three sprouted. Unfortunately, when seedlings are this close together I am forced to make some tough decisions, like who lives? It's called thinning out. Plants will not thrive with their root systems intertwined. They need space to grow. And as much as you want to separate them and plant them further apart, it's not recommended because they are so vulnerable. It's best to just harden yourself and snip - which is what I did.

I'm so sorry!
My peppers and their buddies.
Add them to your next salad!

On another front, I took a look at my yard yesterday and discovered that it doesn't look pretty. I just know that I have my work cut out for me there. I've got to start planning...
And yes, that's an unfinished fence. 

Some questions that continue to come up in this process are, how many seeds do I start? How many should I expect will survive? How much will fit on my plot of land? Last year I under germinated and ended up filling in the holes with store bought plants. I'd like to think I'm on my game this year, but I feel like this just might be an experience thing. Well, I'm going to go for it. If anyone has any ideas, let me know. 

(ta ta for now)

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Hello, World!

Four days after planting the seeds I began to see some action from the Stupice Tomatoes. The other tomatoes followed and then the eggplants. I checked on them yesterday and finally the Jalapenos and Hot chili peppers appeared yesterday.

Once the seedlings start popping up, I remove the plastic cover. Plants need air circulation to grow.

Stupice Tomato
The Tomoato Clan

Ghana Egglplant
Purple Tomatillo
Green Zebra Tomato
Most have started growing.
I'll be doing another set of germinating next weekend. And I still have to get that timer. I'm getting tired of running up and down 3 flights of stairs to turn them on and off everyday.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Sowing the seeds

With a year of gardening behind me, there's still a lot to learn. Last year I started germinating my seeds in April and was happy with my harvest, but after some research I realize now that I was actually quite late. According to the Farmer's Almanac (, I can start as early as February 26th (indoors of course). 

Here's what I'm starting with: 
1. I've got some left over pots from last year 
2. Seeds. I have some from last year, but I also picked up some new ones at the Seedy Saturday that I went to a couple of weeks ago. 
3. Two great books that are helping to guide my way: Grow Great Grub, by Gayla Trail and Growing Stuff: an alternative guide to gardening
4. Potting soil.

I've decided to start with tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers. I am using the popsicle stick method of labeling. 

As it happens, the person who lived in my house before us left a planting table and lighting system in our basement. Score! I never used it in the seven years that I've lived here and I wasn't even sure if it worked. Luckily it did and after some major clean up (my electronics collection from the 80's and early 90's was living on it), and new light bulbs, I now have an awesome light system to help start my seeds.

I've decided to do a couple of things differently from last year. To start, I'm going to germinate my seeds in larger containers. Not that much larger, about 4" deep and 4" in diameter. I've opted against using the seed starting pods because I found that it was difficult to transplant them at such a young age. Instead I'm going to let them get a bit bigger. I also germinated almost all my seeds. I didn't know what I was doing and I was having fun germinating seeds. This year I'm going to plant some seeds directly into the ground. 

Gayla Trail's website is a really awesome resource for information. That's how I knew to hang my light no more that 2-4" above the leaves at all times, for 12-16 hours a day. Which reminds me, I have to buy a new timer sometime this week. She just re-posted some Spring gardening tips. Check it out here.

"Growing Stuff" gave me the idea to use plastic bags as domes for the seeds while they germinate. They aren't pretty, but they'll do the job. 

The whole process took me longer than I thought it would. I had to figure out a good system for doing things in. My hands kept on getting dirty and wet right when I had to take the delicate little seeds out of their packaging... Anyway, I did figure it out in the end and all is well. My one tip would be to water your soil first, before you put any seeds into it. Otherwise they can wash away. Oops. 

This is a chart from the Farmer's Almanac site. It gave me clear dates based on the last Spring frost (a big deal in gardening) and tells me when I can start germinating seeds indoors and start planting seeds outside. They estimate the date based on historical weather data in your location. The last frost date for me is April 24th. Also, there's some stuff about moons, but I'm ignoring that for now. 

The last thing I'll leave you with is a seed starting chart that I got mostly from Gayla Trail's book. I modified it a little using the Farmer's Almanac, but it's pretty much all Gayla. It's great for keeping track of what and when you've started. I started filling mine in today. Woot!

That's it for my first post. Happy planting!