It’s That Time of Year Again
Here it is, mid-March, and I’m getting my germination station into full swing. My expandable germination station currently is using 3 shelves out of the 5 available.
Shelf “A” – is my sprouting shelf – with my seeds sitting on a heating pad at the lowest setting. A plastic cover protects the heating pad from the moist wash cloths containing seeds and another piece of plastic covers the wash cloths to hold in warmth and moisture – keeping the seeds very comfortable as they are being born.
Shelf “B” – my nursery shelf, is where the new sprouts, housed in their small biodegradable pots, will get their first baby leaves, or cotyledon, and, maybe, their second set, the true leaves. I still keep them covered with plastic forming a warm, moist environment in this plant incubator.
Shelf “C” – will get the plants that outgrow the nursery shelf and still need additional growth before hardening them off enough to survive their ultimate garden home. The grow lights will give them enough warmth without the need for a plastic cover. I just have to make sure that their soil stays moist. There is a shelf below this one that will eventually be used in the same way.
What’s Sproutin’ Now?
The first batches to be put on the seed sprouting shelf, “A”, include these favorites of mine:
Slicers – The slicers, Straight Eight, Salad Bush, and Sweet Success, are excellent in salads, sandwiches, with a dip, or just eating right off the vine. The Straight Eight and the Sweet Success are vining cucumbers and will need a trellis to make them happy. The Salad Bush will probably end up in a cage since the vines are fairly short for this bush type cucumber.
Picklers – The pickler, Picklebush, will make superb dill pickles! I’ll most likely put the Picklebush on a trellis, too, even though it is considered a “half bush” variety.
I had such great success with California Wonder last year that I am going to run the same variety this year, too! Last year, I had deliciously sweet bell peppers nonstop until the temperature dipped closed to freezing. I was getting 40 to 50 healthy looking peppers a day. We were eating them at every meal, and we still had more than enough to can, dehydrate, and freeze dry over 300 mason jars full of them – about 25 cases! Even Jed got tired of eating them and he dearly loves them!
In past years, I have had great success with both Midori Giant and Chiba Green so; I am hopeful that 2018 will be a good year for them, too. I love to eat these tasty veggies boiled and lightly salted. But, remember to only eat the seeds inside – don’t eat the pod, itself. The first time I tried edamame, I wasn’t aware of how to eat them and I actually tried to chew the pod and, boy, was it tough – and embarrassing!
Let’s Get on the Same Page
Here are a few articles to peruse before you try your hand at starting your garden from seeds this year.
Germinating Seeds – Simple Steps with Great Results – will get you up to speed on how to successfully sprout seeds.
Homemade Biodegradable Plant Pots – is a step by step instruction guide for turning your old newspapers into earth friendly pots that will disintegrate into compost rapidly after planting.
Transplanting Your Seedlings Into Starter Pots. Oh What Fun! – enlightens you about transferring your sprouts into biodegradable pots. These containers will get the plants growing large enough to survive the inevitable move to the garden.
Harden Off Seedlings. Toughen Them Up! – highlights the formula for strengthening your baby plants so that they survive their reassignment to the garden.
Germination Has Been Crazy Fast This Year!
Within 2 days of putting my first batch of seeds on the sprouting shelf to germinate, I started getting sprouts to transplant. Out popped all my cucumbers and edamame. I couldn’t leave them in their wash cloths any longer or they would have begun to root completely through the cloths and become almost impossible to remove without damaging their tender roots.
So, I potted all the cucumbers (40 pots) and all the edamame (10 pots) – and, put them under the grow lights on my nursery shelf, “B” – covered in plastic to keep the warmth and moisture inside – just like a little plant hot house.
NOTE: I made sure to number everything so I can keep track of which varieties were which. I want to be able to identify the plants that were the most successful each year so I can narrow my selections to the best to grow in my hardiness zone.
The sweet pepper seeds are much slower to sprout. It will take a few more days before they will be ready to be placed in pots on the plant nursery shelf.
Since tomato seeds take quite a bit of time to germinate, I decided to fill the empty spots on the seed sprouting shelf with some delectable tomatoes; Honey Delight Hybrid (yellow tomato), Cherry Super Sweet 100, Big Boy Hybrid, Steak Sandwich Hybrid, and Bushsteak Hybrid.
Unbelievable Exploded Growth on the Nursery Shelf!
This morning, when I checked on the newly potted cucumbers, some of them were shooting for the heavens! In just 2 days on the nursery shelf, about a third of them were getting too big for their little pots – and I’m still a good 3 weeks away from being able to put them into the garden dirt!
What to do? Well, the only thing I could do was to transfer them into larger pots. Luckily, I made a lot of larger pots earlier – when I was creating the smaller newspaper origami pots that I use on the nursery shelf.
At least, after re-potting these fast-growing cuke upstarts on shelf “C” under the grow lights, I don’t need to cover them with plastic because they are big enough to withstand fluctuating room temperatures – with a little added warmth from the lights. I just need to make sure that I give them plenty of light and keep the soil moist – and, they will be fine and dandy!
I use 2 simple tools to lightly water my growing seedlings. The Home-X Watering Spout will screw onto any 2-liter soda bottle – making it very convenient. I also have an old half-gallon milk jug, with a few holes drilled in the top that works pretty well, too.
The Next 3 Weeks
I am biting at the bit to get out and do my spring tilling in the garden so I can lay everything out based on this year’s garden plan before mid-April planting time rolls around. But, we have had an excessive amount of rain this year and, I like the ground to be a bit dried out when I till it. I really don’t like tromping around in a muddy garden.
Coming soon… Chapter 4 of Jim’s Garden Adventure 2018 will be devoted to this year’s tilling and garden plan.
And Then Came Jed
Many of you have heard about my neighbor, Jed, the retired farmer. Jed is always offering up advice, stories, and anecdotes about his many decades of farming expertise.
The other day, he was admiring my germination station and was relating a story to me about a day when his neighbor’s son overturned his tractor while getting ready for spring planting.
Jed goes on…
“I heard a noise while eating breakfast one mornin’ and, I looked out the window and saw that Jasper had overturned his father’s tractor while plowing their fields. I yelled out asking if he was hurt and he said, ‘No.’
So, I told him not to worry about it and to come on over and have some breakfast with me. Then, after breakfast, I would help him get the tractor turned right side up.
Well, Jasper said he appreciated the offer but, he didn’t think his Pa would want him to take time out for breakfast. I told him not to worry about it and he said, ‘Okay…but, Pa won’t like it.’
After a nice big breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon, toast, grits, and lots of coffee, Jasper thanked me for the meal and said he felt a whole lot better but, he said, ‘I know Pa is going to be really upset.’
I laughed and told him not to be so silly and I asked him where his Pa was?
Jasper said, ‘Under the tractor.’
I sure did stick my foot in my mouth that time, didn’t I?”
Here’s where you can find some more contributions from Jed.
Do you have an opinion you would like to share about my germination station? Any questions? Thoughts?
Comment here or drop me an email, firstname.lastname@example.org.