I am always excited about this time of the year! This is when seeds are started for spring planting. The winter days have become dreary and this garden chore helps prevent cabin fever.
January 1st is my 15 weeks out from last frost.
First I determine when to start specific plants and mark the dates on the calendar. My last average frost date is April 15th. I live in zone 5 but with climate change, I have found it’s best to treat the gardens as zone 5 & 6.
I like nice, strong plants for transplanting so some of the plants like tomatoes, peppers, and cabbage are started 15 weeks before frost.
It’s hard deciding what’s going to be grown in this season’s garden. First I figure which seeds I have on hand in the seed bank.
I keep a garden journal of my seed bank & garden planning.
If I’m short or out of a seed, I have time to make an order or find a fellow seed swapper who can come to the rescue. Once the list is made, I’m ready to get seeding…well almost.
My seed starter soil is a mix of organic peat moss and chicken/kitchen scrap compost. I sanitize the mix to prevent weed seeds & bad bacteria by heating it in a pan for about a half hour in a 180- 200 degree oven. It gets a good stir halfway through.
The mix is cooled then sifted to make a nice, fine soil blend. I use a bucket covered with a towel and sift the mix using a recycled deep fryer basket. The large bits and woody stuff are used in the greenhouse.
I have used many kinds of containers over the years for seedlings but that’s a discussion for another post. I have since moved to recycling foam food trays into seed starter trays. They hold up well for reuse and stay out of the trash dump.
A plastic soda bottle is recycled into a small scoop and is perfect for filling seed trays (and especially those 4-6 pack pots).
A mini greenhouse indoors is placed near the window for sunlight and the wood stove for ample warmth.
I will repeat this process many times until the garden list is completed and the seeds are planted and labeled. If something doesn’t grow, there is still plenty of time to replant.
I make a very weak manure/compost tea for watering with a recycled jug with holes punched through its lid as a quick sprinkler.
These heirloom tomatoes are planted three each and 8-9 rows across. After a few weeks they are transplanted to single containers.
Phew! That was fun! Now it’s just a matter of waiting for the dormant seeds to spring up!