Before I could order seeds, I had to see what I had on hand.
Several years ago I decided to quit starting plants (ornamental and edible) indoors from seed. It was always a great way to appease my impatience for spring’s arrival, but a seedling massacre occurred every May, as my attention was diverted to the many garden tasks outdoors needing completion. Inevitably, I’d forget to water, or take too long to pot on or plant, leaving me rather dismayed and frustrated by wilted and potbound seedlings. Not exactly a great way to save money by doing it myself. Part of what enabled me to quit was the fact that my eldest daughter was old enough–and willing–to take on the job. But now she is at a different place in her life, and I find the job falling to me again–and whoever I can press into service.
We have a five gallon bucket with a tight fitting lid that stores our pre-moistened seed starting medium.
I’ve had to relearn a lot of what I once knew. Fortunately, there are plenty of online resources to help me get back up to speed. I really like the spreadsheet available at the top of the right sidebar at Johnny’s Selected Seeds
. Once you’ve got it downloaded and unzipped on your local hard drive, you just enter your frost-free date and it tells you when to start the seeds of many common vegetables, and also when to plant the transplants in the garden. I change the date depending on whether or not the vegetable can take a little bit of cold. For example, for lettuce I use a May 31st day, because that’s about as early as I can expect our frost free season to start. However, for tomatoes, basil, and other finnicky crops, I use June 7th as my frost free date, because that’s about the latest we’ve ever had a frost. Unfortunately, this spreadsheet doesn’t yet include vegetables that are direct seeded, such as carrots and beans. I’ve been told by someone at the company that these will be included in a future version.
Just about every seed company out there has helpful information on their online site. I learned about the Johnny’s Seed spreadsheet from this newsletter published by the National Garden Bureau. It has links to the seed starting information provided by member seed companies. It wouldn’t surprise me if you found some conflicting information if you compared advice from all the various firms. Growing plants isn’t an exact science, and it also varies depending on climate. That’s why I was particularly happy to find the spreadsheet at Johnny’s, whose climate is pretty similar to my own.
The leeks are in the back. In the foreground are columbine seeds that will chill out on the porch.
So far, I’ve only started leeks
, and they haven’t sprouted yet. I’ve also sown nodding onion (Allium cernuum
) and two kinds of columbine. They went out to the porch, where the cold temperatures should help them break dormancy so they can sprout.
How about you? Have any of you cold climate gardeners started seeds indoors yet?