Yes, I started my seeds already.
What? Can't a girl get excited?
We're still about 10 weeks away from the last frost here on the east side of the Cascade Mountains, but I can't let that hold me back! Girlfriends got plans this year. Big plans.
And thankfully, my Dad built a wonderful little stand for me to keep my trays on – up and out of G baby's reach.
Seeds are much like children – each needing it's own particular attention. Some like it cold. Some like it hot. Some like it dry. Others like it nice and moist. The trick, I think, is simplifying it enough that you don't just go crazy with the details. Sure, it's important to pay attention and act purposefully with each particular vegetable, but in the end, what's a vegetable if you didn't enjoy growing it!
Oh, to feel that sweet dirt on my hands again felt so wonderful!
This far out from the growing season, we've only started a few things: peppers, kale, eggplant, cabbage, and (as soon as they arrive in the mail!) we will start tomatoes. Oh, and I better get my lettuce started too. It transplants easily to the garden in the spring.
Kale is so easy and wonderful to grow – you can eat it fresh, cooked, or freeze it to munch on through the winter. It will produce from spring all the way till there is snow on the ground. Now that's a plant who earns his keep in the garden bed. Kale also doesn't mind being cold, so the transplants will be set out into the garden in early April (under a hoop house). This year, I am excited to grow my high-producing Lacinato kale and also a new curly variety. Oh, the excitement!
Now peppers, on the other hand, hate being cold – it stunts their growth, big time! And I'll be danged if I didn't put them out too early last year. Whoops. I guess my ambitious nature comes back to bite me at times. Regardless, I'm ready to give it another go this year, but I am starting them a little differently. Because peppers love to grow in warm soil, I have placed the growing trays on a heating pad set to ‘low'. This will keep the soil nice and warm for the germinating pepper seeds and will encourage lots of growth. Essentially, I'm making the peppers think it's spring! I also am starting a new heirloom variety called ‘King of the North' – which, as you could imagine, grows well in the colder Northwest states.
Did I mention I am also using a ‘plant light' that tricks the plants to thinking their basking in sunshine? I be pullin' all kinds of tricks on these little rascals. Okay, so the set up may be a tad redneck at the moment, but it's functional.
Nothing has taught my patience quite like waiting for my seeds to germinate. Each day, I pass them long glances and stares, hoping I'll catch them popping up through the soil to say hello. But, alas, I still must be patient.
Instead of picking at the soil looking for a sprout (like I've been known to do in the past, ahem), I've been good about giving them a little squirt of water, checking the heat and light, and offering them my encouragement. Grow, little seeds, grow!
Here's a few tips I've found helpful in starting seeds:
Use a seed starting mix. It's super light-weight and aerated, making it easy for the seeds to send their roots down. It's slightly more expensive than regular potting mix, but it's important these seeds get off to the best start possible.
Use a squirt bottle to water. Nothing will upset a tender seedling quite like a dumping of water will. One must be gentle with the seedling and keep it moist at all times. Draping a piece of clear plastic over the soil will help to create a greenhouse affect on the seeds and will help to retain moisture longer.
Use a fan. Once the seedlings emerge, a fan set on a very low setting and placed a bit away from the starts will help them to grow strong as they create a root system to support them from the breeze.
Did you know plants like to listen to music? It's true. Just like us, they thrive on rhythmic beats and harmony. These sprouts will grow up listening to ‘French Cafe Radio' on Pandora. My favorite motivational music.
Soon, but not yet (see? that's my practicing my patience), it will be time to plant the kale transplants, beets, peas, onions, spinach, potatoes, and lettuce outside. Then, the beans, melons, cucumbers, zucchini, butternut squash, eggplant, tomatoes, herbs, and peppers will take their place on the seed stand as they begin their journey.
Isn't God's created world just amazing? I'm no great gardener, but I'm learning, and it is wonderful.
Tell me about your spring garden!