Thursday, April 21, 2011

Seed Starting

Well, the Dear (Mr. S) and I finally started our seeds this past weekend. For those of you in warmer climates, you might think we are a little slow on getting going. However, our average last frost is May 25, so we might be a week or two late, but better late than never, right? We are a Zone 4 here (though some say we are a 5, however, all we need is one cold winter to bump us back to a solid 4, so we claim zone 4) and our average growing season (from the average last frost in May until the average first frost) is around 120 days, with the average first frost on August 23. Yes folks, that's right, AUGUST 23. I love short season gardening.

With that being said, in these parts you need to get a head start on the growing season indoors. You California and Florida people are baffled, I'm sure, but it's true. We actually start growing our tomatoes, peppers, green beans, cucumbers, and pumpkins indoors. Shocking, I know. :) So that's what you'll see in the following pictures. Our 100 (yep, one hundred) little pots that are each harboring a seed from one of the previously listed plants. We want them to get the best start possible. We love our little seeds. :)

So, without further ado, our photos, with explanations before the picture. Up first, what our little growing area/makeshift greenhouse looks like from the outside (well, from the bottom of our basement steps, it's set up in part of our future downstairs bathroom):

Next up is what it looks like when you pull up the painters' plastic, and yes, that is a space heater keeping things warm under there. The upstairs of our house is a balmy 65F in the winter, so the basement is around 60-65F, not warm enough for most of our seeds to germinate.

And another view of underneath, a 10x10 grid of 5"x5"x5" pots in the solid bottomed black plastic planting trays (available for $.97 each at Home Depot). We add some water to the bottom of the trays, mostly to add some humidity to the air, but also for the plants to get a little drink if they need it. In past we have only put water into the trays, and let the plants soak up the water from the trays, to ensure all of the soil was watered. This year though we are watering from the top using one of those hand held pump sprayers that people usually for killing weeds, don't worry, we bought a brand new one for our little plants-to-be. We are now the proud owners of three such sprayers. :) P.S. You can see part of the sprayer on the left hand side of the first picture. And, in case you were wondering, it's a two gallon sprayer.

And finally, a view of the heat bubble (or if you want, the top of our little makeshift greenhouse). I've tried to weigh this thing down, but it's not really working. I might start calling it E.T.'s earthly home, because it reminds me of that part in E.T. when everything is covered in plastic and stuff. You know what part I'm talking about, right? Right?!?
If you have any questions, feel free to ask. I used to be a Master Gardener (I'm not taking the classes this year, due to other commitments on my time and energy). And tell me, what are you planting this year? Do you usually start seeds indoors, or are you blessed to live in a warm(er) climate?


Smallbits said...

The weird thing here is that you have to be able to drag most plants into the partial shade between June and September or October. Otherwise, they get burned up. We can grow all year though if we do that.

Kaycei said...

I started my seeds a while back, even though we have similar average last frost dates. I like to get a jump on things, and it's a good thing I did because I dried out my first batch of seedlings. Which reminds me, I need to go down and water them when I'm done.
Why do you use so many of the 5x5 pots? I tried the 72 cell seed flat trays that are reusable, however I prefer the 72 peat pellet trays. They transplant easier in my opinion.

Leslie@leserleeslovesandhobbies said...

We only put one plant in each pot. This way they can get nice and big before we have to transplant them. And there's plenty of room for the roots to grow.