I like to think of myself as a novice gardener as I have grown many plots of vegetables over the years, done quite a bit of canning and mostly had terrific success but one area I was not so good at was starting plants from seed. Since I currently live in the Puget Sound area (cold), it is essential to either purchase some plants that are well established or limit the variety in the garden to seeds that can thrive in our colder weather or just plant later when it’s warm enough and hope for the best.
I wanted to learn seed collection and seed starting as my partner and I will be moving to Mexico eventually and it is hard to get seeds of good quality so, collecting my own must be learned. However, once I have the seeds I need to be able to grow plants with them, right?
A workshop was attended which was sponsored and taught by Lara of Sustainable Renton, and Caitlin of Urban Food Warrior on Seed Starting techniques. I was so excited to learn what I was doing wrong all these years so I could correct my actions.
It turns out that I did was not using enough light, nor was I using the right soil mixture. Caitlin had this neat little portable green house that she made from a large clear plastic bin, a lid made from plywood, 3 florescent light fixtures with the right bulbs, seed starting trays, a small fan and a timer. I made one a few days later and it turned out great! I got bulbs that are 4000k on the color temperature scale.
I got organic seed starting mixture, wet it down and followed the depth chart listed on the seed packages…filled my little trays with soil mixture and planted my seeds. The lights were kept on for 19 hours and off for 5 using the timer. The seeds do not need fertilizer until they pop up and start growing, then I used liquid worm tea mixed with water (I also compost my food waste using red wrigglers) to feed my little babies. The small fan was placed on top aiming into one of the handle openings on my sheet of plywood so the air could circulate inside.
After 5-7 days, my seeds began sprouting wildly! The stems are thicker and only a few of the plants have died after I transplanted them to larger containers. Now, I have several tomatoes, beets, onions, bunches of cilantro, broccoli, etc. After a few more weeks inside, I will move them to the great outdoors. This is an exciting adventure and a major turn for my gardening skills. Looking forward to harvest!