It has been nearly two weeks since I started the first batch of seedlings inside the house and I am eagerly awaiting their growth! Last year I believe I had tried starting seedlings in our house as part of my 100 Days Project. Unfortunately, I don't believe many (if any) of those young seedlings actually survived. Much of last year's harvest came from plants that were directly sown into our garden as well as a few extra transplants I received from my mom.
The issues I faced last year were just honestly feeling like I was out of my depth. I didn't have any real plans with how many items I was hoping to grow, where I would put them when they were mature, how to keep Nodame from eating the tops off of things, or timings for any of it.
It just all felt really overwhelming.
I still managed a decent few crops even with feeling as if I was running around in circles for the entire season. But this year, armed with spreadsheets, calendars, and blueprints, I believe I am ready to take on the spring planting season! Would you care to hear more about what I have in store?
The first change I made from last year to this year was upgrading the place in which I am growing my seedlings. I am still utilizing the big west facing window of our house, but instead of crowding all of the plants onto one small table, I have opted to place them on both handmade shelves and an iron bakers rack.
Arlen actually gave me the idea to hang shelves against the window specifically for plants (thanks hun!) and the bakers rack was brought in from outside our entryway.
Now, I know what some of you are likely thinking- will there be enough sun for these seedlings to grow? Don't I need grow lights? And my answer to both questions is... we shall see!
Currently, I am keeping my purchases for the garden at a bare minimum. We have had -- and will have -- a few major purchases for the garden this year (tree culling, soil and compost purchase, garden box material) that I need to focus on, so saving money in other areas is a necessity. Plus, I want to actually see if grow lights are a necessity. I like to think of this year of seedlings kind of like my "control" year. Sort of like a control group for study. If the seedlings do poorly, I will know for next year that grow lights are the way to go.
Ya'll... I am probably too ambitious for my own good. Especially when it comes to the plants I hope to grow in any given season. But this year, I think I outdid myself, and I only have my spreadsheet to blame (and I guess myself, just a little bit.) Last I counted, I had 72 different plants on my list that I hope to sow at some point this year.
That's wild, right?! Granted, some of those plants are the same type, just slightly different varieties, but still... that's a whole lotta plants to grow! And I am not even counting the number of each plant I hope to grow, either. Last I checked, I think that number was well over 400, not including flowers, hehe!
Surprisingly, I don't feel very overwhelmed by either of these numbers. For that I can also thank my spreadsheet! Every plant and variety has been cataloged in various tabs with loads of information that I researched earlier in the year.
I tried to include everything I could think of from ideal soil temperature, number of days to harvest, sun exposure, when the best time is to plant, indoor vs. outdoor sowing, etc. It was a LOAD of work, but it feels great to have it all in one place where I can quickly reference it if and when I need to.
The only thing I am fearful of is having enough space to house all my seedlings! Luckily, I know that not all of the seeds will be planted at the same time, so there will be a constant rotation of sorts happening in the sun room. But I am not sure how much rotation there might be or if there will be an awkward moment where I have more plants than I do proper ledges for them. I suppose only time will tell!
Turning back to my lovely spreadsheet, I have listed in two tabs the suggested planting dates for all the seeds in my catalog as well as the planting schedule I have come up with based on those suggested dates.
Once I had all of my information listed in my spreadsheet (along with the suggested Transplanting Dates hidden somewhere in there), I was able to take out my large desk calendar and write in each plant that needs sowing on which date and in which location (indoors vs. outdoors).
I have only written out up till August or September for now as I may need to reevaluate the Fall garden once the Summer garden begins to wane. I wouldn't want to be planting carrots again if I am already overflowing with a Spring harvest!
As of today, I have started all of the following seeds indoors:
- Hot Peppers
- Sweet Peppers
That's a lot already, right? Just as I said last year, I am very much a throw everything against the wall and see what sticks kind of gardener. Some of these plants I have been trying for years to grow and others are known favorites. And in the end, it is a numbers game. The more things you try, the better chance you have at succeeding at a few of them!
Finally, to keep track of everything once the seedlings have been planted, I came up with a little sticker that I could place on the side of each of my seedling pots (which are all being repurposed from past garden center purchases). Each sticker simply tells me which variety I am growing, when I planted it, and when I need to transplant it. I've also included a space for the bed # as well as a suggested hardening off date to help prep the seeds for their transfer to the great outdoors.
The Final Location
Whew, if you have gotten this far, brava and thank you for sticking around! I hope you are enjoying this process as much as I am!
Now this part hasn't happened yet, so there is still room for last minute changes. Once the seedlings have grown to the proper size and have reached the right date in which I can transplant them outside, I will do just that! But, I need a plan to guide me, otherwise I will slip right back into feeling overwhelmed with hundreds of little seedlings and not knowing where to put them.
So, I spent a day planning out exactly where I would plant everything. I was so proud to have done it all in a day! I was almost in disbelief - there is no way it could have been this *relatively* easy, right? I shouldn't have even let that thought enter my head because no sooner had I thought it....
...the plans had to immediately change due to an inaccurate measuring (on my part) of the front garden space. Instead of the magnificent 16 garden bed layout that I had originally mapped out, I was knocked back down to 10 garden beds, a possible few grow bags, and some mini beds.
Yikes. That's a big difference in growing space (especially since 6 of those beds I am losing are 3'x9' [0,9 x 2,7 metres] in measurement). Always measure twice, folks!
Back to the drawing board (literally) I went to reimagine my now *much* smaller growing space. And here is what I came up with:
Luckily, I also discovered that with the backyard beds and the side yard getting cleared of trees blocking the sun, I have MORE than enough space to plant all that I had hoped and even some space for experimenting with growing flax for cloth - ISN"T THAT AMAZING?!
There you have it! This growing season is sure to be a fun one, with lots of triumphs and, I am sure, an equal number of failures. With my newfound calm and spreadsheets, though, I am excited to learn loads this year and apply them to the fall garden as well as next year's growing season. This is a lifelong journey, and I am sure I will never stop learning! Isn't that what makes it interesting and fun, anyhow?
How about you? Are you planning to grow anything this year? Regardless of your space, maybe you can play around with growing some herbs or introducing a new plant to your household. There is so much to be gained by sowing a seed or watching a plant slowly transform day after day. I hope I never stop seeing that as pure magic!