Thursday, February 25, 2010

March 8 is Seed Starting Day

Or thereabouts.

I printed and filled out the book that Karen Sue sent me the link for, here, using Memorial Day as the last frost date.  According to the book, 12 weeks before the last frost, you should be sowing indoors broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, leeks, head lettuce, onion, and parsley.  If you don't get them started, it looks like it's OK to start them the following week.  I highlighted the things I have seeds for, so it's easy to see that I should be starting something March 8th and then I don't need to start anything else until March 29th.

I know this stuff isn't written in stone.  The world doesn't end if I don't get stuff started exactly when it's supposed to be started.  Some magical finger from the sky doesn't point down and say, "No!  Stop.  You missed your chance to start those seeds!"  But I'm a beginner.  Last year was my first try at starting seeds and exactly ZERO things I started survived to food-hood.  I need easy guidelines to follow.  A trail of crumbs that cannot be mistaken.  Actually, maybe it's a trail of stepping stones, painted bright yellow .. with signs that say, "Do this now,"  "Now, do this,"  "Next, this."  I feel so inadequate for the challenge.

I've read about lights and soil and germinating things in paper towels on top of the refrigerator, propagating, transplanting inside and out, newpaper starting pots, etc, etc.  All it makes me is confused.  I can design things in my head.  Do complex calculations, just like that.  Keep 10 projects gracefully in progress at the same time.  But I don't understand gardening.  At all.

I think what I'm going to do is find some dirt and put seeds into it on the appointed days.  Even if I do nothing else right, it's more right things than I did last year, and if I accidentally get something to eat out of this, then so much the better.  There's still a chance to learn a thing or two as the season progresses.  Next year I'll do better ... I hope.


  1. If you ever need gardening advice, ask Mama Pea. I have NEVER seen a better, more successful, contentious gardener than she. (Than her? Whatever. You get the idea.)

  2. I went to a seed starting workshop last weekend, and it was very helpful. Seedlings need a lot of light, and fluorescent fixtures are pretty much necessary, although normal cool bulbs are fine (best, really) for vegetational (not sure if that's a word) growth.

    A heat mat is also necessary, especially if you have a (*ahem*) cool house, as you need soil temps at about 70. And they suggest providing just a bit of air circulation to avoid damping off (my biggest problem), but not so much as to dry things out.

    I'm going to go to Home Depot this weekend to get fixtures. I'll post something about it and take some pictures. Going to the workshop was very helpful.

  3. Well, thanks, Chicken Mama, but you know I don't feel like any kind of an expert. I just keep fumbling along and learn more each year. I hate to tell anyone to do it my way because what works for one person, doesn't necessarily work for another. Too many variables.

    Jordan, you're doing the best thing you could do: Just start. Take everything the "experts" say with a grain of salt (vermiculite?). You've heard the old saying, "She didn't know it couldn't be done, so she went ahead and did it." You will learn so much just by doing. And you'll change constantly.

    I think the place where I get myself into the most trouble is being so anxious that I start my seeds indoors TOO SOON. They get too tall, anemic-looking, and then suffer even more stress when they can finally go outside. Much better to have them look a little on the small side but robust with still a lot of strength for growth once transplanting is done. Heck, even in northern climates like yours and mine, we can get mature broccoli and cabbage by putting seeds right in the garden when it's warm enough. A lot of things (squash, cucs, pumpkins) don't LIKE to be transplanted so the shock to those started seeds sets them back so much I think you're better off not starting them indoors.

    I guarantee with your intelligence and willingness to work at it, by this fall you will have had some real successes in your garden.