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!