Growing my own food is something I’ve wanted to try for a few years now, and this year we finally have yard space and are making time to do it! Vegetable gardening appeals to our values of oneness with nature, nutrition and physical wellness, and self-sustaining independence, so I’m hoping this will be a fulfilling new experience for us.
We started tomato, cucumber, zucchini squash, yellow squash, and red bell pepper seeds this week. We wanted a mix of fairly easy-to-grow plants (squash) as well as something a little challenging (cucumbers.)
Here is a list of supplies we’re using:
My favorite sources for gardening knowledge include OrganicGardening.com (which has all the seed starting tips you could ever need, and more,) friends (Caleb grows vegetables and has been a great resource when I have confusing gardening questions,) and family (my husband’s grandmother and great-aunt, lovingly dubbed Nanna and Armon, or “the twins,” have been growing vegetables for years.) Based on information from these sources, we used this process:
1. Make a plan for starting seeds, and document the needs of each plant for transplant and future care planning. I made a document to outline the needs of each vegetable variety we’re planting. This was necessary for us since this is our first attempt at vegetable gardening, and I want to minimize the risk of overlooking specifics of plant care. People who know me may know that I can kill just about any plant out there, and I’d really like to amend my plant murdering ways this go-round. We keep this document on the refrigerator where it can be easily referenced and not easily forgotten.
2. Starting the seeds: fill each peat pot in the starting tray with organic potting mix according to seed packet directions. I estimated the depth of seed placement (anywhere from 1/4″ under soil for tomato seeds to 1″ for cucumbers.) Then gently pat down the soil, and get ready for the fun part…
3. Place the seeds in the partially soil-filled pots. I put one seed in each pot for larger seed varieties (like squash) and 2-4 smaller variety seeds (like tomatoes and bell peppers.)
4. Cover the seeds with more soil and pat gently.
5. Mark each set of pots with the name of the vegetable and date of planting, and give ’em some love. Like a typical Asheville hippie, you can bet I spoke some words of encouragement to these little guys as they began their tumultuous journey into planthood.
(You guys are gonna be just great.)
6. Water the trays thoroughly, making sure the sides of the pots are saturated, and cover the tray with the plastic dome cover.
7. Place seed tray in a safe place 1-3 feet under the daylight lamp. There was some debate about whether or not the lamp should be turned on before the seeds have sprouted, but I decided to go ahead and do it. I’m turning the lamp on around sunrise when I wake up, and turning it off at sundown. I figure this will help them adjust to normal daylight hours as they begin to grow.
And the seeds are officially started! I’ll be posting updates as they emerge, and as we begin to prepare our garden area. This is a new venture for me, and I welcome tips, suggestions, and personal stories if you’re a gardener yourself! 🙂
About two days after planting the seeds in peat pots, I noticed that the top of the soil was growing a thin layer of fuzzy white mold! Research I found on gardening forums explained that this type of mold was probably not harmful to the plants, as many plants live in harmony with different types of molds and fungi.
Of course I didn’t want to take any chances, so I described the mold to my friend Caleb, and he advised me to fill a spray bottle with water and add one cap-full of hydrogen peroxide, then spray the top of the soil with the water-hydrogen peroxide mixture. I did this on Thursday night before turning off the daylight lamp, and the next morning the mold had just about disappeared. Seeds are starting to sprout, and they’re looking great! 🙂
It’s been a week since we planted our seeds, and look how much they’ve already grown! 🙂
(Top left: tomatoes; bottom left: yellow squash; right: cucumbers.)
It’s almost time to remove the plastic dome on top of the trays that seals in moisture. Red bell peppers haven’t sprouted yet, but I’m not worried; the experts say they can take up to three weeks to germinate without a heating pad underneath them. If we don’t see them in the next week, then I will get them one. All is well so far…our next step will be preparing the raised garden bed outside so we can transplant them in four weeks or so. 🙂