Monday, March 7, 2011

Happy to Be Starting Seeds

I have kind of slacked on getting my seeds started this year. I've been busy trying to get back into shape, which as you know, can take a lot of time. However, I had some seeds that say, "start 10-12 weeks before the last frost". This weekend is 10 weeks until our last frost, the weekend of Mother's Day usually here in this portion of Iowa.  It's not that I don't want to start the seeds, it is just one of those things that I always say, that doesn't have to be done today, I'll get to that tomorrow.  But I realized, if I don't get to it, some of this stuff isn't going to be ready to go out.  Once I got down to it, I really enjoyed working on it, and I'm so happy to have seeds on my seed starting rack.

This year, instead of the seed starting mix I usually buy in bags, I decided to try coir.  A lot of my friends on twitter were talking about how much they liked it, and it is supposed to be somewhat more sustainable than peat.  Coir is a natural fiber made from coconut husks.  I have heard that a lot of energy is used to wash the coir before it gets to us, however.  Anyways, the type I bought came in a brick form, wrapped in plastic.  Coir expands when water is the company supplied a plastic bag to put the brick in before adding water.  I put it in the sink, so when the extra water flowed out, it wouldn't make a mess all over the place.

I really liked the texture of the was easy to work with.  However, I couldn't just get it out and use it.  I had to wait for the water to soak in and the for the coir to expand.  Since I was starting 3 bricks of coir, this meant I had 3 bags sitting around soaking since the bag was not big enough to accommodate more than one brick.  I think I would rather not waste all those plastic bags.  Maybe I can find a coir product that doesn't involve so much plastic next time.  It seemed like the coir was ready faster when I used really warm water and let the faucet pour right on the brick while I was filling up the bag.  I have a big bowl I use for wetting down my seed starting mix, and I dumped the coir into that when it was ready.

I forgot how tiny celery seeds are! Urgghhh...that is what took the longest. Getting those seeds into the seed trays was hard. 

This is my set up for seed starting in the new house.  Yes, that is a towel on my kitchen floor.  It is one of the only non-carpeted rooms in the house with good lighting.  So I crouched next to this and put 2-3 seeds into each square. 

At last, seeds starting on the rack.  These shelves will be overflowing with seeds by late spring.  This year I got smart and started labeling the seeds with the date planted, how many days til germination, and the variety name. As long as they stay dry, my little notes will help me remember what is what and how long it has been growing. 

For the 1st round, I started:  Early Dell Celery, Blue Mirror Delphiniums, Catmint, Primor French Baby Leeks, Early Green Broccoli, and Falltime Leeks.  Coming up next will be hibiscus for tea and peppers. 

I have a seed starting mat under some of the trays, and I put the greenhouse tops on after I took these photos.  To keep them moist, I spritz them with a water bottle I keep on the seed starting rack. I try not to water with actual liquid until the seeds have germinated, to keep the seeds from washing away.  My lights are lowered down to just above the trays, and now......I wait.


  1. Oh boy. I guess that reminds me that I should start some seeds. Argh. Scary to think about planting those seedlings in a few months when I will barely be able to walk without tipping over! LOL

    I wonder what will sprout first? No matter what the seed packages say, for me, it's always something random that sprouts first. It befuddled my students when we'd plant in class.

  2. OMGawd, This is such an awesome post. I mean, ya read about these steps, but this just spells it out for a newbie!! I want to thank you for that! :) I especially liked the tip about labeling and what to label.

    Good luck with your starters... Guess I better get moving, I believe we are in the same zone!! Ugh!!! :) xo

  3. Great post. I got a late start on some of my seeds this year. Our last frost is around mid Feb. Some of them are going in the garden late, but at least they'll get there. Have fun and happy gardening!

  4. Melissa- I'll report back when the first seedling is up! It might happen while I'm visiting with my dad this weekend.

    TM- Thanks! The one thing I forgot to mention, maybe because I forgot to do it, is sometimes it helps to soak your seeds overnight before you plant them. This isn't always necessary, but it is especially helpful with very small, or very hard seeds. There is also a general rule, that mostly, the smaller the seed, the longer it takes to germinate. I'm probably going to have to wait longer to see my celery and broccoli, because I forgot to soak them. I will NOT forget to soak the peppers when I do them next week. There will be a separate process for that, because they are more complicated.

    Julie- I can't even imagine having my lost frost date in mid February...that would be QUITE different from life here in Iowa.


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