Since being laid off I have been trying to spend time with family and friends. My Dad is nearing retirement and has some free time as well so I have been trying to get the kids out to see him on the family property out […]
In honor of Halloween I thought I would post some pictures from our pumpkin farm visit and pumpkin carving extravaganza. We have been going to the pumpkin farm with the same group of friends for the last five years and our kids love this tradition! […]
Indoor Seed Starting Time
It is that time of year again when I start to think about what seeds I need to start indoors. This is our third year gardening at our house and the second year for us starting seeds indoors. Last year we started tomatoes, ground cherries, spaghetti squash, sunflowers, cucumbers, zucchini, louffa, gourds, pumpkins and watermelons. Our biggest successes were our squash plants and the beans we direct sowed into the ground. This year we have decided to just buy our tomatoes and ground cherries from the store since we put a lot of effort into growing not so healthy plants last year.
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Seed Starting Basics
When starting seeds indoors there are some basic rules and tools you will need. First off you need seeds (of course), pots, a shovel, soil and a grow light. There are many different types of pots you can use from plastic cups to toilet paper rolls and when you are first starting out it is best to try out a couple of different kinds and see what works best for you. Last year we used red plastic solo cups since we had a bunch lying around but ultimately biodegradable pots such as these here are better for the environment. You can also buy one of these seed starting kits to use as well:
Some people also use warming mats but we start our seeds inside the laundry/furnace room which is very warm and we haven’t needed a warming mat. Our grow lights also came from Amazon and you can find many different types that work but we bought one very similar to this one:
We buy our soil from Costco and mix it with this seed starting mix. Our seeds come from a mish mash of places. This year we have a bunch left over from previous years, seeds I saved from our vegetables and some an easy grow seed set from my mother-in-law for Christmas that has a few varieties that we were missing but if I were to order seeds I would from Seed Savers Exchange. They have a mission to grow heirloom varieties and have a program in place to help their members propagate and grow rare varieties of seeds to preserve plants that might otherwise be lost. I am a huge fan of them and my favorite time of year is when their catalog comes in the mail. It gets me super excited for spring!
The basic rules for starting seeds indoors are to:
- Start them at the right time according to the package (You can find your first frost date here)
- Make sure they are getting the right amount of warmth and light according to the package
- Water from below to prevent mildew forming on the leaves
- Don’t forget about them until they are root bound (I may have some experience with this)
- Harden your seedlings off gradually outdoors before planting in the ground
- Be gentle when transplanting them to avoid damaging the roots.
Seed starting is a skill that takes practice so don’t be discouraged if your first few tries are not successful! Even expert gardeners have trouble with particular batches of seeds or if the weather decides not to cooperate! I am a firm believer in practicing something until you figure out a way to make it work so my best advice for starting out is to pick a few easy to start plants such as zucchini, pumpkins, lettuce, radishes or peas and see if they work. You can always go to the garden store later to grab a few pre-started plants if you seeds don’t work out.
Here are some excellent resources for your seed starting adventures!
A large list of seed starting resources.
This is a great list of vegetables that do well when started indoors and tips for growing them.
This is a great how-to for setting up your lighting system to maximize seed health.
A great article breaking down into detail how to start your seeds.
A great piece about how to pre-germinate your seeds prior to planting them for optimal health.
This article talks about the different ways to start your seeds.
Thinking of mixing you own soil? This is a great resource.
Use these instructions to make eco-friendly newspaper pots to start your seeds in.
A comprehensive list of what you will need for seed starting.
How to start tomatoes successfully.
We have come to the end of our Uber Frugal Month Challenge and we were pretty successful! We kept to our super low grocery budget, were mindful about our purchases and had some great discussions about where we want our life to head and what […]
We are entering our final days of the Frugalwoods Uber Frugal Month Challenge and it has been a great refresher for us to get back into our frugal habits. I am finally caught up on all of the emails and they really made us think […]
Last week I posted a sort of list for our financial goals for 2018. Today I wanted to lay out some goals we have for our garden. We learned a lot last year about where the best light is for our small vegetable patch and this year we will definitely be making some changes. This year is our third year working on the garden and every year we learn a little bit more and improve our garden space.
Some things that worked for us last year were squash, green beans and pumpkins. Our pumpkins took up way too much space though so next year instead of planting four plants I will just stick with two and I am going to put them in the side yard so they can grow all the way down our hill. We loved our green beans and squash but I am embarrassed to say we did not eat all of it in time. Since we didn’t get enough each day to make a meal out of it or to freeze in a decent sized batch, some of our beautiful produce ended up in the compost bin. We still have one pumpkin, two decent sized spaghetti squash, and a few tomatoes that slowly ripened on our window sill left but other than that everything is gone.
My plan for next year is:
1. Organize my garden planning with a garden journal
This has been on my list for the past two years and I just haven’t followed through. I even bought a beautiful notebook and colorful pens to make wonderful drawings of all the plants we will grow but besides a few lists of what we planted (I think) it hasn’t been touched. I am pretty sure I wrote down what I planted at the beginning of the season but my notebook has been collecting dust since last spring so at some point in the next week I will get it out and start recording for this year. This year I want to have some simple diagrams of where we plant things for crop rotation and a better list of what grew where. I absolutely love how organized Annie over at 15acrehomestead is. She has tons of great posts for organizing your homesteading projects. I especially love this one where she lays out how to plan your projects for 2018.
2. Plant enough zucchini, green beans and peas to freeze for the entire year
This one is a little ambitious. We did not plant peas last year so I don’t know how well they will do in our space but I am hoping to find somewhere they do well. We need probably two more zucchini plants for a total of four to grow enough for the winter. I am the only one who eats it so we don’t need a whole lot but the challenge will be getting it processed every day. Last year we got quite a few green beans but the way I planted them made them hard to harvest and we did not inoculate at all (whoops) so I think as long as we get enough plants growing at the right time and I stay on top of picking and processing them we will be able to produce enough green beans to feed us all year. I am really excited about the possibility of green beans from our garden next winter! It turns out they are the only green beans my son will eat and it was a sad day when I cooked the last of them and then he refused the ones I bought at Costco as a replacement.
3. Remove the ivy from all of the trees in our backyard
We got a good start last summer pulling English Ivy off of the trees in our backyard and this year I would love to finish. I would also like to remove all of the ivy off the ground which is doable but it will constantly grow back so it will be an ongoing battle. English Ivy is a horrible invasive species here in the Pacific Northwest and many of the trees in the greenbelt behind our house are covered in it. If we don’t girdle the ivy on the trees near our house at some point the ivy will weaken the trees enough to cause them to topple over in a windstorm. We have frequent windstorms in our area so the possibility is definitely real. Every day I drive down the street behind us and look at these giant trees that are covered past their lower branches with a ring of ivy at least 3 feet thick all the way around. I know some day soon at least one of those trees will fall and completely block the road. I am really hoping that nobody gets hurt when it happens.
4. Continue to replace our high maintenance ornamental bushes with food producing ones
The lady that lived here before us densely planted these gorgeous ornamental bushes that are very pretty but require constant pruning and I am sure fertilizer. They also require a large amount of water in the summer which is pretty wasteful to me. The one thing I love about all of our flowery bushes is the healthy bee population they support. All spring and summer our yard is buzzing with friendly bees that easily pollinate our fruits and vegetables. The amount of pruning and watering they require is too much for us though so we are slowly replacing them with lower maintenance native plants.
5. Continue to keep our berry bushes and fruit trees in top shape
We love our fruit at this house! Last year we planted some raspberries, a pear tree, a blueberry bush and some strawberries in addition to the apple tree and blueberry bushes we already had. At this point we really don’t have room for much else without a major front yard overhaul so our goal is to keep them healthy and producing throughout the summer!
We have really enjoyed having a yard for the kids to play in. The back is pretty steep though and requires some skill to navigate safely so this year will be the first year our son is able to walk around back there on his own. The kids had fun helping me pull ivy last weekend and I introduced them to the cool space I found underneath a bush that could definitely be a fairy hideout. I am looking forward to spring and seeing the yard come alive again. What projects are you working on this year?
We have had a busy week in the garden! Lots of flowers are in bloom and we spent many hours pulling ivy along the property lines in anticipation of our fence measure this week. We are very close to being done with the fence line […]
This week not a lot got done in the garden besides watering and weeding. We had a busy week with the oldest daughter graduating from high school and Father’s Day so we were pretty occupied. We spent a lot of time doing maintenance type stuff […]
We had a really busy week this week with playdates for the younger kids and prom for our oldest. There were errands to run and the one year old didn’t nap all week. Both little kids must be growing through a growth spurt because I spend a lot of time feeding hangry (yes hangry) kids who had been fed an hour prior and then having to run to the store because we some how were out of everything. There was a lot of cleaning up of messes and my husband and I spent all of Sunday working on cleaning out the garage. We made a lot of progress and I feel much better about it. We just need to add another shelf to the ceiling and some along the walls for our gardening stuff and we should be mostly done. Ug. It was both exhausting and fun hanging out with the kids this week but we didn’t get a lot of gardening done.
I spent most of my time weeding and cleaning up the back yard. I didn’t have a lot of time so I pulled the biggest weeds from the asparagus bed, around the fruit trees/bushes and in the back around the deck/huckleberry bush. I found the biggest Stinky Bob plant I have ever seen underneath the huckleberry bush. It was easily three feet across. They are native here so they are everywhere in our back ravine and luckily they are easy to pull once they get big enough. My teenager also spent quite a bit of quality time with her sister pulling ivy along our back slope in preparation for the back fence. Getting the back area clear will be a family effort but well worth it once the fence is in and we can let George out to roam. I didn’t get any pictures of her efforts because I was busy in the garage (which I didn’t take pictures of either because it was a huge embarrassing mess).
Our indoor seedlings are past the point of needing planting but I was waiting on our trellises to come in the mail. I ordered them from Gardeners Supply Store a few weeks ago but you can also find something similar on Amazon and they will come much quicker since I had to wait almost three weeks for them to ship which was kind of a pain. I am going to plant my Luffas along the red three panel trellis and my three year old and I planted some pole beans under the bamboo stakes to create a bean tepee for her and her brother to play in. She was very excited! I let her choose beans or peas. My kids love their vegetables and peas and green beans are their favorite. I am really glad she chose green beans because I am not a fan of peas and I have been having to eat them quite a bit lately so that I am modeling good vegetable eating behavior.
My Luffa plants are doing well. I have been hardening them off all week and they should be ready to plant some time this week. I am really excited about them but also nervous because we just started out gardening and these are a little unusual. I have some bottle gourds that are ready to plant as well but I am in need of another trellis for them to climb.
I used some Earth Staples to anchor the trellis and some of the soaker hoses down. I plan on anchoring more of the soaker hoses down but I am waiting for after I add another trellis or something for the gourds to grow on. I probably need to use a splitter with my soaker hoses so there isn’t so much wasted water but I am still trying to figure out a good configuration for them. I am afraid that if I bury them I will forget where I put them…
Our green bean trellis is looking good. I am hoping it will be fun for the kids to sit in and sneak eating beans while I work in the garden.
Our pumpkins and squash are doing well with new growth and lots of flowers. I am hoping to get at least one good sized pumpkin and I know that the zucchini will probably over produce so I plan on freezing a bunch of it for the winter since I am the only on that really likes it. I only have two plants in the garden and a couple still in their red cups but I don’t think I will be planting the extras since two zucchini plants it probably enough for us.
After I worked in the vegetable garden I spent some time looking around the rest of the yard while my husband and son watered the asparagus and the front garden bed.
My gigantic bush by our front door is abuzz with bees. It is really pretty with all of it’s white flowers and the way it is shaped.
We also have these pink flowers that are stunning. We almost killed these last year when we planted the asparagus. They die back every year and the previous owners must have cut them back before they put the house on the market so we had no idea they were there until after they had been stepped on. They did not bloom last year but this year the bush is much bigger and has several big blossoms. We have really enjoyed the anticipation of waiting for the flowers to finally open. Our three year old has been checking them daily for progress which has been fun to watch.
This week I am going to continue to do bi-weekly watering, try and plant my luffa plants and maybe the gourds or my leftover cucumbers. We also have a ton of cleanup work to do in the yard for the oldest’s graduation party in two weeks (time has flown by too fast!) and to get the back ready for a fence. Our strawberries are starting to ripen and we got one berry off of them this week which the three year old promptly ate. I did find some unwelcome visitors in the garden this week and I used a non-toxic solution to hopefully get rid of them but that is for another post!
Happy gardening everyone!
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Sunday was Mother’s Day and my wonderful husband ran to the nursery and picked up soil after work on Friday and played with the kids on Sunday so that I could get my seedlings in the ground that were ready to plant. We spent Saturday […]