Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Seedlings on the Sill

Every spring, like it or not, we are all beginners, all over again.
~Dominique Browning

When my sunny, east facing window sills fill up with seedlings you know it’s nearly spring. My vegetable garden always gets its start this way. The advantage to starting your vegetable garden yourself from seed guarantees you get the varieties that have already proven successful in your garden. In addition to seed, nurseries offer “starts” or seedlings. With starts your choices are limited to what the growers grow and growers stick with those varieties that sell best or what they think will sell best. Selections can vary widely from year to year. You may find a variety one year and have great success with it only to never find it available in starts again. For me ‘Stupice’ is the only tomato I want to grow because it tolerates cool, cloudy weather but it performs great in sun and heat too. Since we never know what spring or summer will be like it’s a great choice for the Pacific Northwest. Also, most growers and nurseries do not offer organic vegetable starts, so your seedlings have been grown with chemicals. I prefer to grow my own so I have control over what fertilizers are used on the foods I’ll be eating.

Currently in an east window I have Anise Hyssop (seed I saved last year) and Canna (newly bought tubers) growing for the flower beds. Leeks and lettuce are germinating on the cooler sills.

Mini watermelon and one more tomato are germinating on the heat mat. I saved those watermelon seeds last summer from a delish mini yellow fleshed variety that I found in my organic market! I have no idea if they will grow, normally our summers don’t yield big juicy melons but since this is a mini, it will require less time till harvest. I thought I’d give it a go and hope for a hot summer. Keeping my fingers crossed.

Below are 3 tomato seedlings growing on the sill, more lettuce and leeks starting in between.

Previously I wrote a post on experimenting seeding in new coir based seedling mix and coir compressed pellets.  As an update, based on my experience…I don’t like coir. I got so-so germination with the coir pellets, better results with the peat pellets. The bagged coir seedling mix was the same, not as reliable germination as with the peat based. I also bought some coir compressed plug’s for use in plug trays…they are the worst. After expanding in warm water they settle so densely in the plug tray there appears to be no air to keep the mix fluffy. I think they smother the seed. In every case the seed failed, I think it rotted. It seems to me that coir is just too heavy a material. That’s too bad because research shows coir to be more sustainable and eco-friendly to harvest than peat. Everything that is coming up today is in a peat based medium.

Do you start your own garden plants and vegetables from seed? Do you use peat, coir or something else? Please share your experience with these products and your preferred medium. We can all learn from each other. Blogging is great that way.

Oh how I covet a greenhouse for my seedlings but for now I’ll count my blessings and be grateful I have a laundry room with sunny, east and south facing window sills in which to grow my starts and begin my garden each spring.

In Bloom In My Garden Today: Corylopsis (Winter Hazel), Hepatica, Daffodil, Cyclamen coum, crocus, primrose (double English), Heleborus, Bellis perennis (English Daisy), violet primrose

Author’s Photos


Cindy said...

If I get my act together like REAL SOON I will have to be happy with the "Starts". but I am dying to have a small vegetable garden this year.

I always grow herbs but I want some tomatos and a few other things

can't wait to see if your mini watermelon works out!!!!

I want a little green house! How cooooool!

Joan said...

Hi Cindy,
I'd love to hear what starts you end up getting. Is your garden area ready or do you still have some beds to build or dig. I think going out to your garden to 'pick' dinner is soooo rewarding. Good luck!

jane said...

hi .. lovely blog .. lots of great info, and i completely agree about the coir .. don't like it at all .. for now, i use peat moss, sparingly .. this is such an exciting time of year, isn't it ..

Joan said...

Hi Jane,
So nice to hear from you...welcome!
I'm with you, peat sparingly. Too bad isn't it? Perhaps something new will come on the market soon. Indeed Spring is exciting for me too...everything is new again and full of promise. Thanks again for visiting, for the complement and for commenting! Getting comments makes my day! I'll swing on by your blog soon. Cheers!

Shari B. (FitFeat) said...

Oh my goodness, I feel so behind! You already have things GROWING! We are still building our raised garden thing. My sweet hubster got most of it done Sunday and then that darn cold bug took him down. This weekend will be in the 70s so I'm guessing he'll be at it again. Possibly this year we'll start with some from seed like maybe the zucchini and some that are already little plants.

So excited that we are ACTUALLY going to have a little garden this year! See Joan, all your great coaching on your blog has gotten us to take the next step!

Have a great day!

Joan said...

Yay Shari! I'm so excited to see what you guys end up growing this year. I have to start early inside in order to have plants ready to go out by the time it warms up. We have a short season here. Have fun building and planning! Way to go you two!

Corner Gardener Sue said...

Hi Joan,
I got my seeds planted. I had squeezed the pots a little as I was planting and saw they had expanded more. For my next batch, I squeezed each one quicker and more confidently before planting any seeds.

I am doing a post on them, and putting a link to your blog. I need to look more into peat. I'm thinking when I've used bags of it in the past, I had read that peat from Canada is renewable.

Joan said...

Hi Sue,
thank you so much for linking my post to your blog. So sweet of you! If you follow the link on this post to the previous post mentioned, I've included abit more info on the peat debate as well as a few links discussing peat usage. Yes, peat is considered renewable but it's the time and wildlife that is at issue. I hope your seeds do well! Cheers!