Sunday, January 25, 2009

I Usually-Never Start Seeds

This is one of those usually nevers- or never reallys, if I take a hard look at it. Seed starting -I like the idea. Its the doing part that sinks it.

Seed catalogs, options. I can pick from a greater variety of vegetables than I could ever find at my local nursery. I can pick exactly what I want. Yet its easy to overbuy tons of seeds which leads to sprouting way more than I could grow out in the plot or planter. And I'm terrible at killing the sprouts of the over-planted.

But hear me out on the indoor sprouting part. Its like having houseplants. Really, I don't do houseplants. They make me anxious because they don't take care of themselves. I have a few, yes-but they are survivors, the hardiest of all houseplants I've ever had because they simply survived my continual neglect. When they droop, I hear the call to water.

But to get back on topic, its that I see indoor sprouting as raising tender, needy houseplants for 8-10 weeks. Oh, its their limp leanings and pale colorations, but also their demand for breezes, and regular watering -hey not too much! Is the temperature just right, or are they getting too drafty near the window. 

This is the work I do to save money on starts at the nursery? It makes sense if I am planting an army of vegetables, or saving seeds from years prior. But then -there it is again, the notion of picking just the right vegetable variety, not the joyless workhorses they sell at the nursery, your "Better Boy"s and "Black Beauty"s. And I can start 'em when I need 'em, not when the nursery has them. Also, I can do it organically, should I wish to do so.

This is what gets me trying it again, buying just the plant that I think I want, that I feel will match my conditions. So I've done it -I bought some seed packets.

Mind you I may have just 30 square feet for planting, but now I am looking at tomatoes from the latest catalog (Scheepers) to arrive. Then there's the snap peas and cucumbers for containers. What else? Last fall I bought at the BBG Italian Arugula, Slow-Bolt (really?) Cilantro, and Mesclun Lettuce Mix. Though these don't count so much because they'll all be sowed outdoors directly into their containers -along with the bush beans later to come.

So I cut some wood for a window shelf, high above the cats' paws but still in window sun. Now I need the starting tray, or something to catch the water. I'm also going to make a cold frame -on legs, so that I don't smash the emerging bulbs under it. If this goes well, maybe I'll change my tune.

Or maybe not. This is city living, isn't it? The farmer's market at Borough Hall had $1 tomato starts last spring, of which I bought Striped German, Brandywine, and San Marzano. But they were all indeterminate varieties that sprawled all over. I'm looking for shorter season varieties, determinates that will produce before the sun drops below the buildings.

Is that commitment? The beginning of something new. Gardeners' need growth, something new to challenge their impulse. For me, with so little space, its going to have to be indoor seed starting -this year.

When looking at images of seed starting, I found this post from simplegreenfrugalco-op about easy indoor seed starting.

But this appeals to my senses: Wintersown.org. Check it out.

1 comment:

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