By Brian Smith
Spring is in the air and our minds are busy dreaming about planting our gardens and Cedar Planters’ raised garden beds with vegetables and flowers for the summer season. In the past, my wife and I would visit our local garden centres to buy mature seedlings (that have already been grown indoors from seeds) and are ready to plant when the temperature is just right with no risk of frost. This is definitely an easy way to start your spring gardens, but a word of caution, we’ve found out by trial and error that buying from a reputable garden centre is crucial to ensure you buy the best quality plants. Buying from a “temporary” plant retailer in a parking lot has not been good for us personally, as the plants are usually not the best quality and not as well tended to.
Since I am now retired and have lots of time on my hands, I have actually decided to try and grow my vegetables from seeds. I’ve set up my vegetable “Grow-Op” in one of our bedrooms in our house to see how successful I will be at doing this. We will still buy our flowers from our favorite Garden Centres.
After quite a bit of research into this, I’ve found various ways to start my plants and then transplant them into my Cedar Planters.
One way is to visit a garden centre where you can purchase your seeds and seed starting pellets (made of peat moss), as well as trays to hold them. That’s all well and good but I tend to be on the more frugal side, plus I have a degree in environmental sciences, and on top of that, I like to reuse everything. I have found another way to do this with items you already have in your home that are normally thrown into the recycle bin…
To start growing my seeds I will be using paper egg cartons, as they are easily compostable (and free of charge!). Instead of the peat moss pods, I will be using a mixture of seed starting soil, I purchased at a local hardware store, and mix that with coffee grounds (50:50 ratio). You could also use compost if you have a composter in your home. I’ll be filling the egg cartons half full of this mixture, putting a seed into each compartment, then filling it up with soil, and watering them to keep them moist. Important: I’ve read that not to over water to avoid the risk of mold and fungus growing.
The most important thing you will need in order to be successful is a good source of light. If you have a large window with a southern exposure you should put your seedlings there. We have a two year-old granddaughter who would love to get her hands into these and play in the dirt so this isn’t an option for us. Instead, I have set up a table in one of our bedrooms, a more safe and isolated space, with some grow lights that I’ve purchased, and trays to hold the egg cartons in. I’ll be planting beef steak tomatoes, red bell peppers, buttercrunch lettuce, leaf lettuce, parsley, sage, rosemary, basil, and scallions, all starting from seed form!
Stay tuned for my next blogs, where I’ll update you on my progress in a few weeks, along with some pictures!