With every goal there comes the desire for quicker progress or a faster outcome. For some, that may be exercise goals, career promotions, or weight loss. The same is true for farming. Everything in this business takes a lengthy amount of time. Growing animals, growing vegetables and flowers. Raising hens to the laying stage – or waiting for your momma cow to give birth so you can enjoy fresh raw cream. It all takes months to years.
Of course, if you had the opportunity, you would take the route that speeds things up a bit. For gardeners who would like a jumpstart on the season, they choose the route of greenhouses and hoop houses. Believe me, if I had a greenhouse (currently in progress) or a hoop house, I would be in heaven. I could start tulips or lettuces in the hoop house during fall, keep them covered and protected throughout winter, and harvest in early Spring.
This is one of my dreams, not just to grow year round, but to produce the best quality – beyond organic food for my family and my community. I grew a winter garden with low tunnel covers this year, which worked beautifully, but with new adventures on the horizon – better equipment might be necessary.
Until then, I will share with you what I do instead.
I start my seeds in my house.
Specifically in my living room – the office. back porch… aaand the kids’ room.
Currently, there are seed flats everywhere, and that is just fine with me as long as I can keep tiny Joel fingers from exploring the baby height flats. So far, he has only rearranged my labels.
This works for me and it can work for you too! Even if you don’t have many windows. As long as you have a warm environment for the seeds to germinate, you can be on your way to Spring Gardening as early as February.
I choose to order my seeds (and supplies) from reputable companies dedicated to providing non-GMO heirloom and hybrid varieties.
1. Gather all supplies.
2. Place as much seed starting mix as you will need in a bowl or tray.
3. Dampen your seed starting mix with warm water (using warm water will help encourage the seeds to germinate).
4. Fill seed flat or vessel of choice with starting mix.
5. Add seeds to flat in a neat manner. Don’t just sprinkle them on top and call it good. This mistake will lead to a lot of thinning, which means a waste or perfectly good plants.
6. Cover seeds with a thin layer of dry starting soil. It is important to use a thin layer. Seeds need only their width in cover to germinate.
7. Store flats in a warm area near a fireplace or a heater. If you have warming mats, even better!
8. Keep the “soil” damp with warm water and check every day for progress.
As you begin to see tiny seedlings emerge, move flats to a sunny space in your home, under a south facing window or any window that gets plenty of sun. If it is warm enough during the day, feel free to place flats outside only if it isn’t too windy. Placing seedlings outside will help them to grow strong enough for their future home outdoors. If you have a little extra money, and the space to do it, you can also purchase grow lights to improve stem strength.
If using flats, when seedlings reach 6 inches in height, it is time to move them to larger vessels. I use biodegradable peat pots. Some gardeners use plastic cups. Whatever you prefer as long as it is big enough to house the plant’s expanding root system.
Remember, you are not required to have fancy houses or equipment to get an early start on Spring gardening. All you need is a few supplies, a warm space, and sunny windows. Don’t let the big guys deter you from planting beautiful veggies and flowers!
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In All Things, Pray.
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