Monday, March 26, 2012

seed starting and spring planting

the seed inventory

so, i went ahead and did some early planting (thanks for the encouragement last week!). this weekend was beautiful so i finally sat down and took some inventory of my seed collection, i have a lot! i made a list of everything that i had, and i was only missing a few things that i wanted to plant.

seed starting

i need (and want!) to do a better job of seed saving this year. it would be great to never have to buy seeds again, wouldn't it? another great way of avoiding seed buying is to swap and share seeds with fellow gardeners. these calendula seeds in my hands were sent to me for my birthday this past year by a dear friend who lives in oakland. it's so fascinating how different they look from the calendula seeds i saved from my own garden last summer (i sent her some of those in return). she didn't tell me the variety, so we'll have to wait and see what they turn out to be. i love that a piece of her will be in my garden this year.

calendula varieties

as for what i planted? i can say for sure that it's way too much! but that's okay. last year i was happy to share some of my surplus seedlings and i know i'll be doing the same in a month or so. these seedlings are now taking up three trays under fluorescent lights in my basement. two trays are on heating pads and one (the chard and kale) is not. the lights are timed to stay on for sixteen hours a day. currently, i have plastic covering all of the trays to create a greenhouse effect, but as soon as they start sprouting (which some already are, after only two days!), i'll remove the plastic and bring the lights up a little further (they are suspended on chains from the ceiling so i can adjust the height as the seedlings grow).

basement seed setup

i planted:
-silverbeet chard
-kale (dwarf blue curled scotch, lacinato, red russian)
-basil variety
-zinnias (red scarlet, cut and come again)
-tomatoes (cherokee purple, ace bush, yellow pear, sungold, matt's wild cherry)
-peppers (early jalapeno, bull nose bell)
-calendula ("leah's oakland", zeolights)

i also began my outdoor planting of early spring plants, arugula and radishes, but didn't get very far before the weekend was suddenly over (and i was down for the count with a bad cold). i'm hoping to plant some carrots, spinach, and snap peas over the next week.
shari posted some good seed starting links a couple of weeks ago here, here are a couple of my favorites: my post last year detailing my setup, you grow girl's instructions for setting up a diy lighting system, more instructions from you grow girl, another you grow girl list of handy links. i also referenced a few books i have: backyard homestead, and rodale's illustrated encyclopedia of organic gardening.

what are you all starting to plant so far this season?


  1. we've started leeks, all varieties of peppers, our brassicas, parsley and marjoram. our seed starting set up is quite similar.

  2. we are hardening off our summer plants. it amazes me how different our seasons look, julia. i love it, though :)

  3. -onions, shallots, leeks seeded, and under lights
    -basil, that the boys started on the windowsill and thriving!
    -tomatoes (8 varieties X 10 each) started and on the dryer for bottom heat.
    next up: peas and radishes outside in situ, and lettuce, arugula and mache also in situ, the soil was late to warm here. ususally i have these in by now!!