Never too early to start planning. Definitely not too early to get some seeds started, especially annuals that are destined for planters, hanging baskets, or the random wherever you want or need them. Vegetables like carrots, lettuce, radishes, cabbage, and peas can be sowed as soon as the ground is workable. That can be as early as just a few weeks away. I can hardly wait.
Today was 17 degrees and even with those lights pictured above it’s still too cold in the shed where this all takes place. Typically, the smaller the seed the more fragile it is and more particular or fussy it is about conditions. If I intend to get 10 excellent plants I will start with at least 100 seeds and work my way down through a selection process.
You can see the extension cord coming from the corner of the door and running across the ground. That cord runs about 150 feet before it reaches power. You can see in the window there’s white plastic that lines the interior offering a good balance of light as well as a touch of insulation. The lights stay on 24/7 until the daily temperatures are safe enough to start hardening the plants off by bringing them out during the days and taking them back in at night. I don’t have a sophisticated greenhouse to work from. (Someday this will be a wind and solar fueled process.)
In fact, this is my greenhouse. While it’s not much of a greenhouse, it still kicks ass since it’s made almost entirely of recycled materials. The windows were recovered from curbside garbage and the walls are made from pallets that a few local businesses gave us. The white plastic over the door was recovered from a construction site. The ceiling, however, I had to buy from a local building supply store.
I’m just glad I’m not germinating seeds in our living room anymore. For 2 months I had saw horses, lights, and flats of seeds taking up a lot of space and making a mess. It was my first taste of what it’s like to start gardening in late February and have the process last until November. This picture is from two seasons ago and I got hooked on germinating.(…and that soda bottle is recycled from a friend. I had a pin hole in the top since plants this size can get damaged from just watering. Now I’ve graduated to a misting sprayer.)
Something emotional happens between you and your plants when you start everything from tiny little seeds and make this kind of commitment to them. There’s a daily upkeep involved and a lot of care. Whenever any of them get diseased, injured, or die you feel like a part of you died with it. It might sound strange at first but imagine putting 2 or more months into something and have it disappear within a single day with no chance of returning and you can’t start over until next year. You can learn a lot from an experience like that. I’ve now had the satisfaction of starting plants from seeds, getting them into their raised beds and then to harvest. In a lot of cases I’ve even been able to collect seeds from the best specimens for the next season. This past harvest was my best collection yet. This year I’ll be able to start a lot of my garden from plants I grew last year and will only have to supplement them with the ones I either lost or didn’t grow.
That cracked tomato in the pic above is likely due to the heavy rains the day before. My gardens are on a timer managed drip system and if it rains enough, it can mean too much water for the plants.
As I continue to share this season’s gardening efforts, I’ll share more pics and stories from the past 2 seasons. There was some great success as well as some great failures to report. The best news from all of this is that between my membership to the local, organic farm co-op and my home grown foods, I have so much yield each week that I am able to share it with friends, neighbors, and even an elderly couple in town that live disability check to social security check. It makes growing food far more rewarding knowing that so many people are getting such great food on their table and I’m able to provide it. I am 100% organic and I don’t even use animal manure anymore since having learned new methods of getting green nitrogen from composting and “green manure” crops. (P.S. I don’t collect any money from anyone but I also don’t turn down the occasional pie or cake.)
I’ll wrap up by mentioning that this week I’ll be auditioning some gear from Dangerous Music, my new Wooly Mammoth will be arriving, and my Lightning Boy Audio tube overdrive pedal will be built and ready for pick up. (Serial #002!!!) I’m pretty excited to get my ears on it. Also have a friend in NYC auditioning for The Voice and while I’ve never seen an episode of the show, I’m still hoping the best for him. If I get a chance before next Sunday to post about some of my studio exploits or anything else awesome this week, I’ll jump on.
Otherwise, I’ll catch you next Sunday night. And if you’ve made it this far, please consider following me on Twitter or send me a friend request on Facebook.