Red and yellow onions growing in a recycled aluminum pie plate and plastic cover. Notice the crowding: I intend to transfer these (and most of my seedlings) at least twice: once to the grow bed in the greenhouse and finally to their spots in the garden. Growing things in crowded conditions frankly enables me to maximize that lightspace, but yes, transferring twice is a big downside.
Baby steps: seed starting!
Remember that I have openly admitted that I, gardenlover, hate starting seeds indoors. But like many of these necessary things that are…tiresome, if I bite off only a tiny bit at a time then I feel the task is manageable. I could NEVER set aside a whole (or even half) day to start seeds because I would certainly go crazy.
So I cheat: I dump my dirt, compost, worm castings and peat into a large plastic tub and I fill the seed pots when I have the time AND the desire. My gardening calendar has enough flexibility built into it that a few days either way isn’t going to hurt things. I probably won’t wait too many days, though…the calendar won’t accommodate a true slacker. For instance, after two weeks, the leeks I sowed are near no-shows. Leeks are important so I planted a new flat. (In my own time, of course…the next day.)
A big trick up my sleeve is those greenhouses. Granted not all of you have them, but they enable me to use the lights for the first few weeks only and not the six or 12 that some seeds require. I first grow the cold-hardy seeds (alliums, lettuces, brassicas) in small cast-off bits of recycling (Chinese take-out containers, cottage cheese tubs, etc.) and then, once their true leaves come in, out to the greenhouse they go. Yep, it’s still cold outside but 40* nighttime lows shouldn’t hurt them in there. I transfer the seedlings into the dirt and “double greenhouse” them by placing a piece of clear plastic directly atop their bed. And then under the lights go the seeds of warmth-loving plants, and I repeat the process, because by the time they’re ready those greenhouses are hot enough for their needs.
Perhaps this last trick of greenhouse growing is out of reach for you this year. What I’ve done in the past is to grow my bigger seedlings in my sunny front porch. Because I potted things up in individual cups, stacking them on the windowsills worked fairly well. On the one or two severely cold nights that spring, I put a space heater on out there. You can also try making a coldframe outdoors, out of a window and some straw bales, or even of a clear plastic sweater box. You can move the sweater box indoors if you fear a cold snap.
So even without the greenhouse the seed-starting thing can be tackled in a small batches, as you can tolerate it…