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The Farmhouse Front Porch

Springtime and Seeds

Lydia PhippsMornin' friends! Come on in and sit a spell on the porch— let the spring sun warm you up and the breeze blow through your hair. It's a beautiful morning here on the farm, everything is coming alive with the arrival of spring. It's time!

I've been ready for spring to make her appearance since late winter. Back in January my parents bought me two mini greenhouse kits, some lettuce, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts seeds, and got me an almanac calendar. They know me all too well, and always support my love of all things gardening and farming. They are, after all, where that love comes from.

At a young age, my parents, along with my grandparents, started teaching me the importance being able to support myself, even if the things I needed weren't always readily available to me. They taught me to grow my own food — as well as how to preserve that food to be able to provide food for my family, throughout the year, even when the garden is gone (but that's another post).

Anyway, back to greenhouses. I have never started my own seeds, but last year my mom started most of the seeds for the plants she put in her garden, she was very successful with it! So, this year I decided to give it a try. Another lesson she has taught me — if you don't try, you'll never succeed; and with a little bit of hope and faith and a lot of hard work, anything is possible! She's a very wise lady. So, with her guidance I set out on my "seed starting journey."

pellet greenhouses

Just this year, we've decided to follow a tried and true method to planting — The Farmer's Almanac. Why we've not used this before now is beyond me. Any old farmer will tell you to use the almanac for ALL aspects of farming — it won't steer you wrong.

Anyway, I used my almanac calendar to find a good day to start my seeds, in this case it was March 24th (I was a little late on getting started, but I just keep reminding myself this is a learning process). I left my seed pods in their greenhouse and soaked them in warm water for 30 minutes or so, long enough to allow them to triple in size. Once this happened, it was time to start planting. I used a skewer to make holes in the top of the pods so that it would be easier to plant my seeds. It's very important not to plant the seeds too deep or it will take quite a while for them to sprout.

My mom taught me to use the end of tweezers to pick up your seeds (not the end you use to get splinters or briars out of your hands, but the other end), wet the end of them just a little, and your seeds will almost jump right onto them — it's a lot easier than trying to pick up each individual seed with your fingers. You can use your skewer to slide the seeds right off the tweezers and into the hole in your pod. I put 3-4 seeds in each pod. Then just cover them over with the soil in that pod. Cover the greenhouse base with the clear lid provided, and voila!

I put my seeds near a window, so they could get some natural sunshine, but I also put them under a grow light. I left the light on them 24 hours a day until they sprouted. I also turned my greenhouses each day, to help the plants to grow straight since they tend to grow toward the light.

seed starting

Another important aspect is watering the seeds. I found that a $1 spray bottle from the dollar store works best, but I've also seen some people use straws to drop water onto their seed pods. Use lukewarm water and spritz your pods every couple of days. You'll know it's time to water them because the soil in the pods will turn light brown — meaning they're getting too dry. Once the seeds sprout, take the clear cover off the greenhouse. The pods will dry out more quickly now, so it may be necessary to water the plants nearly every day.

My biggest struggle was keeping straight what I planted in each pod — lesson learned for next year — keep a note pad close by and note what is planted and where. I imagine this year I will just have to wait until the plants are big enough to see which plant I end up with in each cell.

It's neat to watch the little guys grow. You'll notice each day that your plants have grown. It always makes me happy!

Today, April 12th, is transplanting day! Keep in mind the almanac calendar will tell you which days are good for transplanting. My seeds have grown into tiny plants. They have outgrown their pods — it's time to go on to bigger containers.

Today I will transplant each individual plant to its own cell in a four-cell container. Another lesson from my mom — these little plants are very tender, it's very important to be careful when pulling plants from the pods to add to your soil filled containers (You don't even have to pull the plants from the pods — you can move the entire pod from the greenhouse to the cell if you would like). I chose to pull my plants so that I can reuse those pods.

If you choose to pull your plants, just make sure you have roots on the bottom of the plant before you put it in the container. You will break some of the plants, and you will pull some without the roots. It happens, and it's ok!

transplanting day

I've got my gardening/planting bench set up, and I'm ready to go. I'll let you know how it goes! I'm excited to see the progress as my plants continue to grow — it's truly an amazing process to witness.

Until next time, my favorite spring quote... "In the spring at the end of the day you should smell like dirt." — Margaret Atwood

And I couldn't agree more!

Love, hugs, and fun times farming!

— Lydia


Photos property of Lydia Phipps.