Thursday, March 24, 2011

starting vegetable seeds

This is my first year with a yard, which means it's my first year with a real vegetable garden! Last year I grew a tiny vegetable garden on my porch, but I failed miserably at starting seeds. I think I didn't water them enough, because anything that actually sprouted ended up dying. After that I vowed to only buy vegetable plants from the nursery.

But then a year went by and my confidence recovered. So I went out and bought lots of seeds!

I decided to make my own seed starting cups out of newspaper. I saw the idea for little newspaper seed pots on the Backyard Farming blog. I liked this idea better than going out and buying plastic seed-starter trays. So I got to work.

First I had to find newspaper... Borrowed some from my neighbor. Christian brought some home from work.

I forgot to take a picture of the beginning of the process, so here are two pictures from Backyard Farming. You cut the newspaper into strips, wrap them around a small jar (I used a medium size spice jar--one with about a 2-inch top).

Tuck the extra newspaper into the opening of the jar, pull it off the jar, turn it over, and smash down the tucked-in newspaper to create the base.

Then fill the cups with dirt! I saved various plastic trays to put them in (the bottoms of milk jugs, cookie trays, cupcake containers from the cupcakes I took to my ESL class...). I also cut some of the leftover plastic into tabs to label the plants.

I'm not going to lie--rolling the newspaper and filling the little pots with dirt was time consuming. It wouldn't have been nearly as time consuming if I had counted my seeds correctly. Somehow I calculated that I needed 50 little pots. So I made 50 little pots. When it came time to plant the seeds, I planted 20 pots and was done. I sure felt dumb that I had been so off in my calculations! Turns out I included all the seeds I planned to plant directly in the ground. Oops! So I gave the rest to my sister.

I planted more seeds than I would need, expecting some of them not to grow. Want to see how well my seeds are doing?

The chives are not doing so well. I failed with these last year, too. I guess I'm not meant to grow chives from seed.

The peppers are making an appearance! Some bell peppers, some habanero peppers, some piquillo peppers, and some sweet yellow peppers. I read a tip to cover them in a plastic bag to keep them warm. When everything else started growing except my peppers, I ditched the bag, and now they are starting to grow.

The tomatoes are like a forest! (Note the orange int he picture for scale.) Almost all the seeds grew! Cherry tomatoes, big purple heirloom tomatoes, and tomato seeds I harvested from my CSA last year. We are going to have lots of tomatoes.

Last, but very much not least, are the watermelon and zucchini! 3 decent-size watermelon plants and 3 HUGE zucchini plants! I need to get these bad boys in the ground stat, but the never-ending rain is making that difficult. So I guess they will just keep growing!

Now if the rain would just stop, I could plant everything...


Dyan said...

Molly, can I harvest some of your energy? This will be my second year gardening, but I am still too lazy/scared to plant seeds. Good luck:)

Kerri said...

amazing!!! I wish i lived close so you could share your harvest! sounds like a delicious summer ahead!

Tamra said...

We're doing seeds this year, too. Tomatoes and peppers, mainly. Also, some kale. We should have started them outside instead of inside, though. And we will be doing watermelon and zucchini, too, but our directions say to start them outside after danger of last frost. For us that's the beginning of May.