Last week was an exciting week as homesteaders! It marked the beginning of the future of our summer garden. Almost 300 seedlings are officially planted and beginning to grow!
At the beginning of winter, Logan ordered an overwhelming amount of seeds, many of which require being planted inside 10-12 weeks before the last frost date. We order most of our seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom seeds. They take in heirloom seeds from across the world and they have a HUGE variety, ranging from orange watermelons and yellow strawberries to crazy bumpy squashes. We choose this company because they believe in the importance of preserving these heirloom varieties that have already been preserved for years. All of their seeds are organic and non-GMO, even their corn (which can be difficult to find these days).
So far, we have planted three batches of seeds. All of the seeds are planted in soil blocks, which we made from a soil blocker Logan ordered online.
For the first batch of seeds, we created our own soil mixture from loose soil in our yard, our compost, and some composted horse poop and hay. For the second and third batches we created a soil mixture with organic store-bought materials including organic compost, organic soil conditioner, peat moss, blood meal, green sand and vermiculite. All of the blocks are being kept in trays. Some are trays we created by cutting cardboard boxes. The rest are in store-bought plastic trays with loose-fitting clear plastic lids. These are great to keep the humidity in and also good for the seeds that need to be kept on heat mats, as this could get risky with cardboard. The cardboard trays are great because they were free.
The first batch of seeds planted included white onions, shallots, martina onions, Brunswick cabbage, butter king lettuce, broccoli, criolla de cocina peppers, sage, cauliflower, glory of enkhuizen cabbage, and lavender. The next night we planted betalux tomatoes, yellow tomatoes, thai red chilli peppers, old Italian tomatoes, spinach, and yellow tomatillos. Finally, the last batch planted included triumphator lettuce, quadrato d’asti rosso peppers, eggplant, Tesuque chile peppers, scotch bonnet peppers, Chinese cabbage, and kale. This entire paragraph exemplifies another reason we bought seeds from Baker Creek. If we are successful, we will get to try many varieties we have never tried or even heard of before! Who knows what deliciousness lies ahead!
There is still work to be done in our seedling room, so for now all of our seeds are being kept on a tall shelf with wheels that Logan built. They are in front of a large, south-facing window. The shelf is also rigged up with about six grow lights to supplement the plants that are further back from the window. On warm days, plants that have already sprouted can be taken out into our greenhouse, but for the most part they need to be brought back inside at night. We have been watering them with a spray bottle once a day. Our homemade soil mixture usually requires water twice a day because it tends to dry out more quickly than the soil made from bought materials. The soil blocks made from our mixture are also the ones being kept on the cardboard trays so the humidity escapes from them much quicker.
We will be planting more seeds in Logan’s work office this Sunday with some friends. The office he works in is like one big atrium so it is perfect for starting seeds. Maybe we will try a different method this Sunday. And there is still much more seed planting to be done from there! This is only the beginning. Over time, someday, we will know the methods that work best and have our own routine for this whole process. Although that will be great, right now it is still exciting to be learning!
To all those who are starting their gardens early or are beginning preparations for their future gardens, happy planting and happy preparing!