Help! I can’t find my porch for the seedlings!
Even though I am the most gung-ho of gardeners, I do have a secret. I dislike indoor seed-starting.
I am not sure if it’s all the indoor dirt, or the fact that our cats find potting soil and/or little seedlings amazingly intriguing, or if it’s simply such an easier process to plant the darned seeds out in the garden but…this is not my proudest hour.
Check the last date of expected frost in your area. Now, go back 8 weeks, and this is the date when you should start your heat-loving seeds like tomatoes, peppers and eggplant. (Whew. I have a ways to go yet.) Look at that date again, and go back further for the slow-growers like the whole onion family. SIGH. THAT’S what I am looking at this weekend: I need to plant some alliums!
I’m not going to belabor my seed-starting process here. Let’s just say anything that can hold water can hold soil, so you can quite easily recycle all those cottage cheese and yogurt tubs you have destined for the recycling bin. My favorite thing to start them in are those big clear plastic boxes that organic salads come in: my MIL has been storing these for me all winter, and I have quite a stash from years past. So it’s a motley crew of containers wherein the seeds get started at Chez El.
Mylar blanket behind the salad stuff starting in the garage last year (yes, that’s metal stuff I pulled out of the garden below: love old farmers and their notion of “garbage heap”
My other secret is the use of mylar blankets to multiply the wimpy light of the fluorescent shop lights I use to grow the seeds. These are the reflective plastic “emergency” blankets you can find fairly easily in the camping or car section of your favorite big box store: they’re pretty cheap (about $2). I put them under the seeds and tent them over the light to keep a warm and bright little area for them.
Once they get big enough, I move the seedlings to my front porch. It’s a winterized porch, but we don’t have heat out there; if it’s expected to get really cold out there, I put an electric heater out there to keep the room above freezing. Not toasty, in other words.
What about the greenhouse, El? Well! It’s in there I will be starting all the cold-loving things like lettuces and cole crops. I won’t be starting them for another month or more, though. (Oh: and those crops? They’ll be started in the ground.)