Tuesday, March 03, 2009
This weekend we took some time to finish our seed prep and sort, organize, chart, plot, and plan. We are at our first seed starting week, and have all the lights and warming mats ready to go too. Woo hoo!
I like to figure it all out in advance with all the staggered start dates and transplant dates listed so that when we are busy and out more later in the spring it is all done already and I just have to follow my chart. Being sorted also allows the boys to participate a lot more during the whole process...they can find the current batch, count out seeds, and plant them in addition to helping with the lighting and watering throughout.
For the seeds, I like to use a photo box. I put the seeds in the box, sorted by seed starting date, earliest in front, direct sow later in back. I group them by the start date relative to last frost'ish. Last frost is marked 0 week. So before that is -1 to -11, etc., and after that is +1, etc. I also mark the cards with plant date in relation to last frost. I print out a calendar and mark weeks pre and post frost on it and stick it to the wall next to my seed trays. Once the seeds are all organized in my box I keep them in a cool place and we just have to grab the next batch at the right time, and start another tray.
We also finished up the grid layouts. For the community garden it is simple because it is a square - I can calculate how many plants can fit per square foot easily, based on how far apart they need to be and how much space I marked on our plot grid. Sooo I know how many seedlings to start. With planting in the yard, I guess. I plant in wavy curvy beds along the house near other plantings with no clear measurements and so just estimate where and how many. It works. If you know your space, grid and plan away, but don't be afraid to make a guess and start a bunch of seeds and stick 'em in when they are ready. If you have extra, spread the love. My neighbors are always thrilled if I have a few extra tomato or pepper seedlings in May! And just about anything can grow in a pot too, so if you run out of space in the bed, try putting a few in pots and then compare how they do.
This year I feel the need to be more organized than usual, since we will have the three plots - home yard, family community garden plot, and kids community garden plot. My husband helped me make a cool spreadsheet for what we are growing where, how many, and with all the dates. It should help me keep track of everything, and manage it somewhat as we go. I'm going to make a master blank version and post it later if anyone is interested.
I also have found some good online tools for calculating and planning dates - here are *just* a few::
You Grow Girl’s Lazy Gardener’s Seed Starting Chart
Spring Planting Calendar
Farmer's Almanac Planting Timetable
While it is still cold outside, starting seeds really makes you feel like spring is indeed on the way and will be here in no time. Well, maybe not no time (I do live in Wisconsin after all), but I'm looking on the bright side! :)