But oh-so-slowly! I’m starting from seed for most of my plants (partly for cost and partly because it’s kind of fun) and I got a bit of a late start on my garden this year. I know I’m several weeks behind the gardens of my friends. I usually start it too early, but not the year that spring arrives early! Go figure 🙂
Strawberries and onions are supposed to do well when planted together, so yesterday I headed off to Gordon’s Nursery in Yelm and picked up some strawberry starts… and tomato starts… and cherry tomato starts… and radish seeds… and seed potatoes. I got my strawberry starts planted along with my Walla Walla sweet onion starts yesterday evening, and I’ve got my tomato starts spending days on the back porch and evenings indoors while they finish hardening off as I got them out of the greenhouse at the nursery.
So far I’m really pleased with the newspaper seed starting pots I’m using this year. They were a bit more work to make than just using peat pods or using the plastic trays, but the Pot Maker I bought really helped, and I used a “recipe” for seed starting mix that was recommended at a gardening class I took through the county (scroll to the bottom of this post for the “recipe”). They do fall apart easily so they require some gentle handling, but that also means that the roots of plants can get through the newspaper as they need to. I bought a bulb planter that is working great for digging holes just the right size for these little pots, and you get to plant the whole little bundle, newspaper and all, so there’s less chance of damaging the seedling while transplanting!
My peas are doing well, but even though they’re bush peas, I think they could use some trellising. I’ll have to see if I can find an extra large tomato cage for each pot. Don’t mind the light brown you can see instead of dirt – I mulched them with grass clippings to help with water evaporation as the weather starts to get warmer.
And when I say I got my garden started late this year… I planted the rest of my seeds this past Tuesday. Weeks and weeks past when I could have, and probably past when I should have. Even though the weather would allow me to start them outdoors this late into spring, I started them indoors anyway to give them a little extra warmth, and so that they’re past the “delicacy” stage for birds when I do put them outside! I was really excited today when I noticed some of my seeds were starting to come up already – broccoli, thyme, bush cucumber, and even two bean seeds are trying to come up, and I’m looking forward to the worm bin class I signed up for on the 30th. Since seeds only care about “warm” and seedlings care about “warm” and “light”, I’ve moved my seed trays out to the garage and hung my shop light with plant bulbs in it right over my trays so that my seedlings don’t get leggy. At least the weather will allow me to put them in my beds as soon as I feel they’re big enough, so I’ll have to make sure to harden them off promptly!
I sure hope my garden does better this year than last year – I’ve got hopes to add another bed or two if it does!
Seed Starting Mix
5 gallons well-sifted compost
2 gallons perlite or vermiculite (wear a dust mask if using vermiculite!)
2 gallons peat moss or coconut coir (follow soaking instructions on coconut coir prior to mixing – this is also more of a renewable resource than peat moss)
1 cup fertilizer in a 1-2-1 ratio
I skipped “sifting” my compost so it’s got some bigger chunks in it. It seems to be okay so far, but next time I would probably sift it through some hardware cloth at least to get the big pieces out. I used a 5 gallon bucket to measure my compost – the bags you buy at the hardware store hold a bit more than 5 gallons – and then mixed all of my ingredients in a wheelbarrow before shoveling it back into two five gallon buckets from the hardware store. I splurged and bought gamma seal screw-top lids for my buckets because I hate struggling to get the cheap plastic lids back off the buckets… and I didn’t want my mix to dry out or get spiders in it as it seems to happen if I leave it uncovered. I’ve only ever used straight potting soil, or Jiffy Seed Starting Mix before, and this seems to be working better (so far!) than either of those.