Sunday, April 22, 2018

Happy Earth Day!

Ok, so it's been a little while since the last time I blogged. We bought a house, moved into said house, and I had to go deliver a spacecraft in California. I am slowly getting back to normal instead of a constant flailing state of exhaustion.

I did want to do an Earth Day post! Around Earth Day usually I get a few seedlings started for the year ahead. This year I have a REAL YARD so I'm preparing batches of vegetables and herbs to go in the garden in May! Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Cherry tomatoes, Swiss Chard, Lettuce, Bok Choi, Borage, Dill, and Sunflowers. Plus some flowers such as Marigolds, Zinnias, and Bee Balm. The beans (Fava, Edamame, and Green Beans) will go directly into the ground later in mid-May.

Veggie seeds ready to grow

Growing from seed is cheaper than buying starter plants, and I do enjoy the entire process. It's amazing to watch a gigantic cucumber vine grow from a single tiny seed.

I like planting seedlings in paper cups as opposed to those plastic seedling starter trays. There"s more space so I can leave them in there longer and the cups are biodegradable which makes me feel better about the whole "dont reuse seedling cartons" thing. I do have to stab some holes in the bottom for drainage though.


After creating drainage holes I pack the cups full of potting soil. This should be fresh from the bag potting soil, because seedlings are susceptible to something called "damping off" which is caused by bacteria and fungi (which naturally occur in soil) eating through the tender young plant stem. Potting soils, at least the higher quality ones (aka: not $5 for a giant bag), are baked out at a high temperature to kill off anything that might harm a tender young seedling. "Seedling soils" are specifically made for seed starting, but I've used regular potting soil and it works just fine. I lose maybe one seedling out of twenty to damping off.

Pack the soil down firmly but not so tightly that it's mashed in there. You want SOME air pockets.

I water the soil in the seedling pots BEFORE putting the seeds in because the water tends to create a giant crater in the soil at first, since the soil is so dry. Water, let the water soak in, then even out the surface to plant your seeds.

Follow the directions on the back of the seed packet for how deep to plant. It doesn't have to be exact- anything that says 1/8" deep I usually just sprinkle on the surface and press down on them to get good soil contact. 

Germination of seeds takes warm soil and sunlight. It's been so cold this past week that we haven't had much germination. However, some seeds naturally germinate faster than others. If you want results quick try lettuce, sunflowers, or marigolds. These are always the first to sprout for me, sometimes taking only a day or two! Different individual seeds can sprout at different rates too, so putting a few seeds in each cup and getting rid of the stragglers as they come up is a good way to make sure you have one strong plant in each cup.

Plant out in the garden when the seedlings have at least two sets of "adult" leaves (the first set of leaves looks different than the subsequent ones and act as a food source while the roots are forming).

Celebrate Earth Day by growing your own food! Or maybe just some flowers for you and the bees to enjoy. :)

PS: Some flowers from my yard that have appeared these past few weeks:

Camelias in bloom!

I have a few pretty bleeding heart plants too!

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