Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Gardening Begins....Sorta

This evening, I jumped the gun a bit and dug-out my seed starter "greenhouse" boxes. I have one long box with 36 starter cells and two small boxes with 10 spots each. Both are basically plastic trays with clear plastic tops but the larger one uses standard "starter mix" and the smaller ones accept "peat pellets," compressed peat moss starter units that expand when soaked in water.

In the past, I've had pretty sucky luck starting seeds indoors. Generally, I'll be lucky to get 3-4 plants out of the whole lot that sprout and don't die and it's generally peppers or parsley. This is partly due to my lack of gardening knowledge and mostly due to the extreme temperatures of my condo. The only window with sun is very drafty yet it's near the high-output heater. The plants either bake or freeze. There's no in-between and there's no place else to put them. I also don't have the space (or the money) to set-up an elaborate growing environment involving grow lamps or heating pads.

In any event, I'm trying again. We're planning to be in a new house by planting season this year, so I can always direct-plant into the garden with the leftover seeds regardless of what happens with my early starters. This year, though, I made a few changes...

First of all, I discovered last year the importance of organic matter in the soil to hold just the right amount of water. Store-bought potting soil is just plain too heavy for seeds to sprout and "seed starter mix" is hard to find. Potting soil holds too much water and makes a soppy mess. Last year, I added a lot of peat moss to my soil and a little fertilizer and I had much better luck starting seeds in general. This year, I'm making sure my starter mix is heavy on the organics--light and fluffy.

Second, I've decided to switch to my own compost in place of fertilizer. I used some store-bought bone meal last year and had pretty good results. This year, I've been churning out compost with my indoor composter and it's time to put it to work. I put a few scoops of that into the starter mix in the 36-cell tray. Cross your fingers!

So, what'd I plant?
  • Pickling Cucumbers
  • Butternut Squash
  • Zucchini
  • Organic Carrots
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Banana Peppers
  • Parsley
  • Arugula
  • Lettuce
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Green Beans
  • Sugar Snap Peas

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