Three or so weeks ago a highly anticipated package arrived in the mail.
Seeds for our first family garden!
This is the first time we have had enough land and enough sunlight to fulfill a dream of mine since I was a little girl :: my own family vegetable garden. I grew up with a garden in my back yard. We ate salads and asparagus and berries and broccoli and tomatoes (oh the tomatoes!) that my father grew. I remember him tilling the soil, and staking out lines, and sowing seeds. I remember picking tomatoes off of the vine, and flicking off invading bugs, and the canning and preserving that came right before school started. Ever since I had my first apartment in college I tried to have little gardens, whether little potted herbs or desperate attempts to find a little spot to grow some sweet lilies of the valley. Even in our city home with it’s teeny tiny yard I built a few containers to grow some greens and strawberries. I won’t mention the disappointment of the garden at the rental, but will use it as a chance to remind myself that every garden needs tending, so it’s probably best not to plant your starts then leave for three weeks. I know weeds are plants whose uses haven’t yet been discovered, still…
But here and now, finally, I can build a garden to house all the plans that those years of dreaming forged in my mind. And it started with little seeds, all purchased from a somewhat local to us company, High Mowing Seeds.
A few Christmases ago we gave my father a light stand so he could start his own seedlings. For years he’d been trying to figure out how my tight-lipped uncle grows and harvests his heirloom tomatoes so early in the season. Dad was convinced it had something to do with the stand. Two years of trying and he didn’t have much success with tomatoes or flowers, so in the basement it sat until I asked if I might take it home with me to give it a try. We packed it up and brought it back with us delicately balanced on top of the luggage as we drove back home from our week long break in Pennsylvania. It fits perfectly in a little corner of our basement. Dad was convinced that it was too cold down there to give the seedlings a good start, but I had a secret weapon.
I had heard, as well as read, that a heat pad provided just the right amount of warm and comfy goodness to get those seeds germinating in record time. And for a fine price, I found lots of places willing to sell fancy seedling heat pads. But I need to build some beds and buy a few cubic yards of soil and compost, so I wasn’t so interested in spending extra money on gadgets. But I did find one priceless tip, a perfect second use for a few things I already had…
Christmas lights!! Brilliant no? I wish I could provide the source to this amazing tip, but I honestly can’t remember where I heard/read it. I couldn’t wait to try it. But first, we had to get some seeds ready to go.
I have to admit at being a bit overwhelmed at all the choices I had to get my seeds started. Should I make my own soil mix? What components do I need? Should I use the tray that came with the stand itself, or something with a lid? Maybe I should purchase some of those plastic dividers you find at the stores and throw everything into one of the plastic zippered bags I keep? Too many choices. In the end, I read Boulder Locavore’s seed starting guide just at the time when I was feeling my most indecisive and decided to follow her recommendations and purchase a few Jiffy trays with lids and compressed peat pots. This year, we’re looking for simplicity and these fit the bill.
Gotta say, those suckers are cool! It was amazing how much water they absorbed and how quickly they expanded.
It didn’t take long at all until we were ready to place some seeds!
We placed a whole bunch in the pots…
… and I used my super secret awesome seed depth planting tool to get them deep as they needed to be.
It might appear to be an ordinary Chinese take-out Chopstick to you, but I can assure you, it holds powers beyond that of vice grips for popping pieces General Tso’s into the gaping maws of the hungry and inconvenienced Americans everywhere. Trust me.
Three trays are now seeded, lidded, and placed under and over the lights. We’ll see whether the Christmas lights work soon enough.
And now we wait.