On a better way of seed-starting

img_0989The seedling transfer bed, bottom to top:  Amish Deer Tongue lettuce (two leaves seen), arugula, spinach, unemergent seeds of spinach, Red Sails lettuce, orach, broccoli, minutina, mizuna, more spinach, more Red Sails and Grand Rapids lettuce.  Those are two beds of garlic you see beyond, as well as the overwintered fig trees.

Outdoors in the greenhouse is where I *love* starting our seeds.  It’s here, too, that some indoor seedlings find temporary shelter, growing out as best they can before they go outside to their permanent spots.  I have 6 of 9 beds in the old greenhouse that are filled like this one.  Now can you see why I hate starting seeds indoors?  Inside, I only have so much dirt and so much light:  here, well, here I can go crazy.

Perhaps a little too crazy!  Now that I have the excuse of “well, I am growing for the school garden too” I am, uh, taking it to heart.

13 responses to “On a better way of seed-starting

  1. yes, I understand…
    Next spring…. since our tunnels will be up and operating (although I will still start all the heat-lovers on the heat mat as I want tomatoes by mid-June and peppers take so darn-long!).

    I love your new banner.

  2. El, I think your greenhouse–and not having one myself–is going to drive me to actual despair over gardening. I WANT A GREENHOUSE!

  3. That is it!!! I have to get a small greenhouse. I have been after hubby for along time.

    I am waiting for my lettuce to come up-it is covered with melting snow now.

    The geese flew in on the pond today-if they go near garden, I will send out my llahsa, Sissy, to chase them away!!!

    And I finally saw how and where the turkeys roost at nite.

    Large group of trees, they sorta jump and fly up on branches that blow in the wind!! They look like giant blobs up there in the trees. They other nite the wind was blowing so hard, one of them fell out, but it didn’t hurt itself. They are funny to watch.

  4. I love your new header! Thanks for another great post.


  5. I think I’m going to plant a circle of lettuce for company..and the peeps; yours looks so pretty.
    I am joining Sylvie and Linda in admiring your new banner. Excellent.

  6. Ah! That looks lovely. Everything I have in the cold frame is still tiny tiny. I think I must have started my seeds later. Either that, or your hoophouse is like steroids for plants.

  7. Like the others, seeing this makes me want a greenhouse now! Growing there does look so different, and better for the plants too. Do they start faster in there? When did you seed them?

  8. Sylvie, tomatoes by mid-June? Ambitious, girl! I was able to harvest some early tomatoes (Bellstar Paste, a determinate variety; they’re excellent) by the end of June in the greenhouse but goodness even in the greenhouses here I don’t see them until mid-July. But yeah I still start the heat-lovers indoors. They’ll fill their 48-cell flats and then they’ll get transferred out to seedling beds in the greenhouse until they’re ready to go.

    But I am glad you like the new banner: the greenhouses are good for growing chicks, too!

    Ed, hah! Well, let’s see what you come up with this fall…

    Grandmabecker: Sissy sounds like a great helper! Plus, I have never known a small dog who thought she wasn’t the size of a St. Bernard so those geese better run. I think you’d love a greenhouse. We love eating salads and carrots out of it in January. I think wild turkeys are great. Our tame ones sleep in trees too if I don’t get to them soon enough to put them away for the night…

    Thanks, Linda!

    Oh yes Pamela it’s the polite thing to do. Now I can understand if you didn’t like June lettuce: that stuff can get bitter and tough, but a nice fall or early spring lettuce is dreamy.

    Lindsay, some of these were started pretty early (like the mizuna and spinach which you can’t quite see: they were started in Feb.) but yes, steroids, check. Instant gratification. But let’s see how your stuff does!!!

    MC, the earliest stuff is the furthest away from you. The arugula and lettuces closest to you are a little over 3 weeks old. The spinach closest is the most recently planted… Anyway, yeah, the greenhouse definitely moderates any condition outdoor ones would experience: they won’t get flattened by hail or whatever. It’s pretty much an easy place to be.

  9. Wah! that looks so nice! Myself, I think this greenhouse using has a learning curve, I put my little tomato seedlings in the greenhouse in trays and put an extra layer of plastic over them at night and they died! 😦
    All these years of wanting a greenhouse, now I have one and I don’t know what I am doing! I thought I could start the seeds in the house, and transfer them on out there as soon as they sprouted up. Is it still too cold? How long do I have to wait? I detest starting them all in the house too, such a mess!

  10. Shawna-

    El inspired me to get a greenhouse, too, and I’m going through a lot of the same things you are! My new best friend, er, gadget, is the thermometer(s) my sweetie got me. There’s a station that sits in the house and gives readings from three outside probes. One probe gives me the outside temp, one gives me the inside air temp in the greenhouse, and one gives me the greenhouse soil temp. It records the hi/lo temp for each one every 24 hours. That lets me see that it’s still getting below freezing in my greenhouse on a regular basis – so I don’t have anything out there that can’t freeze. Lettuce, kale, spinach…yes. Tomatoes and peppers? No. (I’m in Ann Arbor, MI, zone 5b, by the way – colder than the west side of the state where El lives.) –Emily

  11. Shawna my dear! What in the world are you doing starting your tomatoes at this early hour anyway? Actually, I understand it’s only me who’s not so enthusiastic about the red torment of summer. Anyway, yes, I second Emily’s opinion about the high/low thermometer. What she has sounds terribly high tech! All I know is that at this time of year, a closed-up greenhouse gets to be 90* by 10:30 a.m. so I go out and roll up the side and open the door, hoping to cool the thing down to about 70-80* for the day.

    All I am saying is indeed there’s a learning curve, but the thermometer and just getting into the habit of opening things up with the 2nd cup of coffee is just kind of what has to happen. But, you know, like anything: it takes a bit of learning before you get it.

    I do imagine the little buggers were colder though because they were in their pots and not in the warmer, less fluctuating ground itself.

    But I agree indoor seeds suck. My tomatoes are only 2 weeks old now and will be going out next week at the earliest (so they’ll be only 3-4″ tall at that point).

    Thanks, Emily! I am glad to see you’ve picked up on how the things work. It’s a bit of a trick, especially with these swing seasons, but still, they’re terribly fun, don’t you think?

  12. Thanks Emily!
    So, you have a thermometer the reads into your home that you have hosted in three seperate spots in and around your greenhouse? wow! I thought of getting a high and low just to see what exactly is going on- because I haven’t grown in a greenhouse I really have no frame of reference- and El, my tomatoes are the same age as yours! Two weeks old. They were little tiny things out there. It was probably stupid to put them out there huh? I just do not have enough lights for all the seeds I started, and I don’t want to buy more. So, you will be putting your 3-4 inch tomatoes out next week at the earliest? this is good info for me while I am learning. Mine were just tiny sprouts. I thought they would be fine under the double plastic.
    Yeah, thats what I need to do, get in the habit of opening stuff up when I do chores- because it does get cooking in there, holy cow! Yesterday I was at a friends house doing a potluck egg hunt thing and all I could think about was that I forgot to open the greenhouse and sure I had cooked my plants I have in there!! It was like over 100 degrees! I felt horrible! and raced home and they did perk up with water, but sheesh. I need to get my greenhouse mind on, really!
    I also need to cut in a new vent window or something. We only have our door for ventilation right now.

    So, do you mostly put your warm weather plants out there in a couple of weeks? And right now, the cold stuff should be in the ground of the greenhouse?
    And this is a further road but, when do I plant stuff for it to stand still into winter to be harvested under the double layer of plastic? Like the cold stuff?
    Do you have a favorite book you could recommend that is more tailored to this climate about how to work the unheated greenhouse and what it can do for you as far as growing and what kind of schedule I should be on?
    I think a lot of the greenhouse things I have read lean towards heated greenhouses which is totally different.
    Or maybe I should just email you :b I am clogging the blog, lol

  13. Great photo 🙂

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