There are few things I enjoy more in life than this. Again I am planting. The same as the first of February last year and every year for as long as I can remember. It seems that the soil calls to me as the robins return and the snow melts. A sirens song calling me home, back to the land. I am not lulled into a false spring because I know winter is far from over for me but I get just a taste of things to come. I will plant my early spring crops under lights and go back to my mending and quilting for a few more weeks. Finishing my winter chores and enjoying catching up on household chores and some well deserved reading.
But right now it is seed planting time. Every year I drag out the black seed trays. Many I have had now for a decade or so. As the trays get holes in them O Wise One takes a hot glue gun and repairs them so they are watertight again. Just a little trick there. If you keep them out of direct sunlight they will last much longer.
I no longer make my own seed starter mix. Back in the days when I was planting 3 or 4 gardens and my home was still full of kids I did. Now I just send O wise One to the local Ace Hardware Store to buy retail seed starter mix. The gardening police will surely crucify me for this admission. I'm old and tired okay!!!!
I put the seed starter mix in a plastic dishpan and place it in my big laundry sink. Then I add hot water to moisten and allow to sit for a few minutes to absorb the moisture. You do not want it soggy.
I always start with onions and for the last several years Australian Brown Onions from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. ****I do have some in the garden to go to seed this year for my own seeds to save******
My routine for onions is to start 2 trays of onions in February. I simply take a pencil and make a small indention in each section of moist soil. I then drop 2 seeds in each hole. If they both come up one will later be removed or cut off with small scissors.
Each section of the tray is marked with a permanent marker with what is planted in that section. I use small craft sticks as my markers.
Then a lid is put on them and they are put under the lights. I do not add any more water at this time because I have premoistened my soil already, that is usually enough moisture to get my seeds up. Just don't let them dry out. I keep a spray bottle of water to lightly mist the top of the soil if needed until they come up. Once they come up I water from the bottom of the tray. Many talk about using bottom heat to get their seeds up. I have never used bottom heat in my life. I just place them on the shelf of my homemade seed shelves and place the lights really close until they germinate. Patience is a virtue : )
Usually in a week, give or take, I will start seeing this. Remember to always keep the light within a few inches of the top of the plants.
Closer to St. Patricks Day O Wise One will buy some small onion bulbs from the Amish. The small bulbs will be planted first and will be the first to be harvested. Then we will plant the small onion plants for a later harvest. This is done to split up the harvest some so that I do not have the entire harvest to dig, clean, sort and store at one time. I'm just not as young as I used to be. Once my small onion plants get about 6 inches tall they will be moved to the garden and planted once hardened off for a couple days.
And by early to mid summer I am usually picking onions to dry and cure in the sun before going to storage, being frozen or dehydrated or just eaten fresh with those summer meals.
While I have my seeds out I also take inventory of any seeds that I am running low on so I know what I need to order.
My pantry holds jars and jars of saved seeds and seeds that I have bought from years before all dried well and put into moisture proof containers. Nothing is thrown away and many yogurt and condiment containers take on new lives as seed storage vessels. This is just a small portion of my saved seeds. Between vegetables and flowers I probably have 50 containers of varying sizes all with saved seeds in the pantry.
Plastic cleaning caddies from the local big box store hold seed packets very nicely.
While planting onions I also planted my other early spring cold weather tolerant crops.
3 varieties of lettuce, both Bibb and Romaine lettuce.
and Bok Choy
So for 2013 let the gardening begin : )
Blessings from The Holler
The Canned Quilter