As a newer gardener – and brand new to growing in the Northern latitudes – there’s a lot I am figuring out… like the necessity of starting seeds early to work with a much shorter and cooler growing season.
Last Spring, my first priority was settling into our new house, so I got a pretty late start on things. Besides which, a garden plot still had to be tilled out, compost delivered, and finally starting seeds commenced, and somewhat randomly, since I wasn’t really sure what might grow successfully in our new environment.
I had some seeds from our old garden in Texas, and bought a few of this and that, with the idea of starting seeds in trays on the deck outside, tucked into giant ziplock bags leftover from our move. This was my mostly inadequate modification for the cold based on my previous method of simply laying out cardboard flats on the deck, filled with dirt and seeds . This new Northern version did look cute, at least, like tiny fairy greenhouses. ;)
By mid-June, it was still in the 40s here, so not much was happening – a far cry from the 7 or 8 months or more of southern sun usually starting in February. Though there was plenty of rain here and – gasp! – actual DIRT.
Like, not 45 pounds of rock for every 1 square inch of earth, to be dug out painstakingly with raw, bloodied hands under the 100 degree sun… but real, actual soil. There was hope! And I have to say, for what I was able to get in the ground our first year, there was surprisingly little work required to keep things alive and thriving… And we got food. Huzzah!
This year, I vowed to begin starting seeds much earlier – INSIDE – since I barely got one round in before it was all said and done, gratifying as the first great Northern Gardening Experiment was. I began collecting as many egg cartons and fruit containers as I could get my green little hands on over the winter. I’m sure if anyone saw my pile in the garage, it looked hoard-esque. I really DO need those… LOL
Our sun room is bright and warm already, though is also my home yoga studio where I host online classes. I set up a few tables against the windows out of camera view, and laid out all my assorted trays. I’m using a wide mix of plants again since I’m still squarely in learning mode.
I filled the trays halfway with an organic mix for starting seeds, set my seeds in, topped off with starter, and watered. I resealed the packets and attached to my trays with wooden laundry pins.
Several of these seeds are meant to be sowed directly in the soil, so we’ll see how it all works out. I’m throwing caution to the wind in hopes of getting some more yield. I’m a wild woman, what can I say.
I also intend to be more methodical this time around, to see which seeds and varieties actually produce best. Growing from seed has been consistently more successful for me in the past than buying young plants, both in our new home and back in Texas… so there’s that at least.
My seeds range from the higher-end organics like Seeds of Change and others, of which I have a bunch in my Amazon shop, to a couple 25-cent Plantation Products heirloom variety packets from the dollar store (who knew??). A little spritzing the last few evenings and we are now at Day 3 – and voila! We have sprouts!!
I was astonished to see baby plants today – though I have always noticed how the juicy, nice prana (life force energy) from yoga really helps plants grow. And so it seems…
Even more interesting is what seeds have sprouted so quickly! Can you guess?
Dollar store, baby. Heirloom Parris Island romaine with about 6 or 8 sprouts from one of the 25-cent heirloom packets is the early germinating winner, and one tiny broccoli sprout from Seeds of Change takes runner up.
I’m looking forward to seeing more in the coming days and weeks – and will keep you posted on the progress.
In the meantime, what are your favorite tips and tricks for getting your garden growing strong? Would love to hear from fellow novices and master gardeners alike!
Love and light,