Outside there are drifts up to my waist in the wake of the weekend blizzard. The temperature is a balmy 7 degrees. The North wind doth blow…. time to start the garden! Of course.
Today was seed starting day. This is what we did for Nature Studies.
I usually start thinking about starting seeds on Valentines Day. But for our area that really is too early. If they are started on the 14th, the little seedling plants grow and grow and by the time I can plant them outside in the garden they are so big and leggy, stretching in their fight for the sun coming in the window, it’s a tangled mess. So I wait. Wait.
That’s it. Waiting done. Last week of February is long enough. So we begin.
The seeds I start are ones that need a jump start on the growing season. These seeds could be planted outside right in the dirt, but by the time the plants grew big enough to produce the fruit or foliage I want, it would be time for Jack Frost. So some get started early and babied along indoors.
I start tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, parsley, basil, cutting celery, and a few other odds and ends. I’ve started many other types of seeds, but these are the ones I’ve found transplant the best and in the end make it worth the time and effort of indoor growing. Everything else gets direct seeded.
I start the seeds in ziplock bags with a damp piece of paper towel cut to fit inside. It works best if you use thin paper towels – the cheap kind, or you might be able to separate the thicker kind into two sheets – which is what we did. Squirt the paper towel a couple times until is is damp -not dripping wet. The seeds get placed on the paper towel somewhat spread out. The children help – the youngest child helping gets to do the largest seeds like tomato and pepper. The older children do the smaller seeds like cutting celery and parsley. Five to ten seeds get spaced out on the dampened paper towel. The bag is sealed and labeled. Then they are placed in a warmish place to germinate. Sometimes a window sill is warm enough if the sun is shining otherwise the kitchen counter or the shelf in the laundry room.
Then we wait.
I save leftover seeds from previous years in a box in the basement. Sometimes they loose their vitality and don’t germinate. Tomato and basil seeds keep for a long time I’ve found. Pepper seeds are not as long lasting. If the seeds aren’t germinating, either I don’t have them in a warm enough place or they aren’t viable any longer. After about two weeks, if nothing happening, I purchase more seeds and try again. Parsley, cutting celery, and basil take a while to germinate regardless. Nothing is ever cut and dry when it comes to gardening, except for a Nebraska drought .