Friday, February 20, 2009

Gardening 101: Starting Seeds

Yes, folks it is that time of year again...gardening season. (Hallelujah!) The weather has been excellent (in the 50's) the past few days so I've joyfully filled my afternoons with my hands in the dirt and working on outdoor projects. (I'm smiling just typing it!)

A couple of weeks ago I fielded some very specific gardening questions from a dear friend back in Wisconsin. I was delighted to share with Jill some of my own secrets and success with seed starting. Her question is one I often get from new gardeners so I thought I pass on our question and answer session.

Jill wrote:

Gardening...I know you're really good at gardening so you're the perfect person for me to turn to. I am very inexperienced at gardening, but this year I want to expand my garden. I want to start some of my seeds indoors this year so I can get produce faster. Last year I didn't get any lettuce or squash. I planted each twice, and got nothing. Well, I sort of got 1 squash, but it froze outside before it could grow big and ripen.

Your thrifty Thursday tips got me thinking. Can I use an egg carton, filled with dirt, to start my seeds? Is it too small? Which seeds should I start indoors? I want to plant tomatoes, squash, green beans, romaine lettuce, and maybe peas. I think that's it for this year. I'd like to get lots of green beans so I can freeze some for the winter.

My Response:

Good for you for thinking early! Yes, egg cartons would be perfect for starting seeds and even used pizza boxes will do the trick. Tomatoes and squash should be transferred out of the egg carton after they establish a decent root system (when the plant is about 3 inches tall) since you'll want to plant a bigger plant and not a "start" especially in your zone (short growing season).

Since the egg cartons are small I wouldn't put more than 2 seeds in each carton hole. As they grow you can pull the smaller one out called 'thinning'. Keep the seed starts in a warm moist spot with lots of light. Sometimes a warm back porch, kitchen window, or laundry room are a great spot to keep them out of the way.

I never planted anything until after May 1st in your zone outside (late February/early March in the Seattle area), but you could easily get your seedlings started a month before. Tomatoes and squash possibly 6 weeks ahead since they have a larger growing season. Good luck and please ask any questions you want...I love answering.

From inside the little blue bungalow,
Katie Jean

Reader's Note: Do you have a question about gardening? I'd love to answer my perspective and my advice about gardening from the Little Blue Bungalow.

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The O'Hallorans said...

Looks like fun, Katie! Wish we were there to help:^). We will be helping our former host family with their garden this year, but we will have to be creative about finding a spot to garden around our apartment in Turkmenistan. We have a lot to learn about gardening in the DESERT! A big change from the NW

anisaschell said...

Oh... I wish it were garden season here! I WISH WISH WISH it!

There are a few things that we can plant early, but we've had a mild winter, and usually in Colorado that means a big snow is coming in March. We'll see.... but I am JEALOUS!!!!! :)