Because this is a (putative) gardening blog, most of my posts follow the seasons. And it’s this time of year that I do my annual Seed-Starting Post, and if you’ve read me for a while, you’d know how much I dislike the process.
So. This year I am giving you and myself a break by stopping the whining. I will do a positive, hopeful post instead.
But the very idea of spring does make me happy, and germinating seeds hearken the season after all. On Friday after work, I saw a flock of robins (about 200 or so) in the trees in our front yard. We’re closer, the earth is tilting, even if the forecast is for (even) more snow.
Heck, *I* would sprout in soil this warm. Remember the chart I showed you years back, and then mentally calculate how wonderful this is.
Yet it’s with mixed emotions that I consider the onions, artichokes, cardoon, and parsleys sitting on their steamy grow mat**. My mother gave me a seed-starting heat mat last year when I put in her greenhouse for her. This is something I normally wouldn’t buy for myself, as my default is to be as low-tech as possible. And this is the first time I am using it; it should shave a week off the process or more, so…no complaints thusfar.
No grow lights either this year for me. Instead, the process is beginning on the front porch, with the heat mat. This porch has the advantage of being rodent-free (unlike the garage, or even the greenhouses) and it’s really handy. It’s unheated, yet it’s insulated, draft-free and faces south and west, so it’s fairly bright and not frozen. I have seed-started in here many times before, successfully, with neither heat mat nor greenhouses backing me up.
And it’s to the sunny greenhouse the seedlings will eventually go: I use one bed as a nursery, a hotbed, as it were…I remove the top 4″ of soil, put a load of goat and chicken poo down, wet it, replace the soil and voila, a hot bed, the process of decomposition doing what my electric heat mat is currently doing on the front porch. But I am getting ahead of myself: the greenhouse bed won’t be used for weeks yet. I will document it too.
(**But unless you’re starting onions, most of you have some time yet! Look at the calendar and count backward from the last week of frost. If you count back 8 weeks, you’re safe for your tomatoes and peppers.)
NOTE: DISCUSSION OF USING UNCOMPOSTED, HOT MANURE IN THE COMMENTS! I will go over it more in about a month when I set up the hotbeds in the greenhouse.