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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Ready, Set, Grow!!! Starting Seeds

Yesterday was THE day. I got seeds started downstairs, weeeeeee! A couple of years ago, I made up a list of all the seeds we wanted, then counted back to figure out when to start them. I took into account the days until maturity.

Now that I have that Master List, each Spring I can take a quick peek and know when to start what....

Since I knew I would be away for a week, I delayed starting seeds until I got back. I didn't want to have the person looking after our place to have yet Another Chore added to the Daily List.

According to my list, ideal starting time for peppers is Mar 23. Cabbages would be Mar 26. So, I'm a few days late, big deal....it won't matter....

Here's my process....

I use styrofoam cups. I poke one hole in the bottom of each, just enuf to provide some drainage. These cups are on their 3rd year of use! I treat them gently, and definitely wash them all out using a little bleach and hot water, then giving them a really good rinse.
Then I fill them almost to the top with Sunshine Mix, then water that soil.
Then I seed. I don't put 3 or 4 seeds into each cup, I put one seed per cup. I would rather not thin if I don't have to. I find if I keep a good eye on the cups, I can reseed any that don't come up.
After dropping in a seed, I top up the cup with more Sunshine Mix. Then I tamp down on the soil with my knuckles, to ensure the seed is in good contact with the soil. Then I add a bit more water....
I do 21 cups per tray. This is only becauze that is how many fit in a tray, lol....it's not for any scientific reason!
I always try to fill one flat fully with the same type of veggie. That way, I only need to mark one cup with the seed type.
I set the cups in the bottoms of those greenhouse thingys you can buy. I have some on hand, so I use those up first....
After I use up all the bottoms, I start using the clear plastic tops. Since they are quite a bit more flimsy than the bottoms, I line them with cardboard. Otherwise, every time I moved the tray, I'd have cups falling all over the place (not good)
Once I use the top plastic thingys up, I use cardboard flats (from beer or cased canned goods) as my trays. I don't spend any extra money if I can help it....I try to keep all my costs down by using materials already on hand)
A few trays under the lights....
All my seedlings sitting under florescent lights. We have a little space heater in this room to keep things warm....
Since I KNOW I have to grow a LOT more animal feed this year, I decided I could fill all the room under the lights with cabbage seed. I don't have to start Tomatoes and Parsley (the next on the list) until April 20, so these seedlings will have pretty much 3 weeks of grow time.
By that point, I can move all the Cabbage upstairs and free up the lights for the next round.
Sooooo...here's what I have seeded so far:
14 Cayenne Peppers (I got carried away, we don't need that many!)
7 of my friend's little hot hot peppers (I will find out the name)
21 Red Cabbage (I had seed left from last year, germination was terrible, but we'll see what happens this time)
183 Green Cabbage (Yikes!) I know, I know, that's a LOT of cabbage....but most will go down below in the Animal Garden. With six Piggys and a whack of laying hens, the cabbage will be totally used, I am quite sure!
So, from now until April 20, all I need to do is go down and check on these cups every day....water when I need to and hover over them and wring my hands until everything comes up!
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10 comments:

ChristyACB said...

That is a pretty sweet and efficient looking setup there! I sure hope you get good germination with your cabbage. With that many animals you would think you may want even more, yes?

Annie said...

This room was supposed to get turned into a wine making room...maybe next year! If we set it up right, I should still be able to put all the seedlings in there too....

I'll be planting lots more veggies for the animals over time. We'll need lots of mangels, sugar beets, broccoli and more

Annie

Aunt Krissy said...

Just how many layers do yo have?

josh said...

We were late in starting our first garden. But got our seeds in starters this past weekend. Very exciting for a first timer like me. A lot has come up all ready. Keep up the hard work

Annie said...

Krissy, we've got 17 layers right now. We're probably getting a dozen a day, at most. Time for some culling later this year I think.

Josh, you've got lots of time still for starting seeds. good for you for putting in a garden this year! If you've ever got questions, just leave me a comment or send an email!

Annie

Greg Richardson said...

Annie, what are all the foods you grow that your chickens will eat?
That is my goal this year to not only save money on feed but have them eating better so my eggs are the healthiest I can get them.

Annie said...

Hi Greg, if you go to the sidebar on the right side, click on Animal Feed. That should help quite a bit.

Angela said...

I am going to start saving my Styrofoam cups for next spring! I am so new to gardening, and your method makes the most sense to me from what I've read. Thank you for sharing!!

Annie said...

Hi Angela, glad you liked this post. I save all kinds of containers, cream cartons, larger canned veggie cans, etc. It all helps and is much cheaper and better for our environment.

Maria said...

Annie,

Love your blog. Questions: Do you keep the lights on 24/7? What is the temperature in the room with the lights on and the small heater? Thanks. Maria