Alright guys, we’re hitting February now, which means it’s time to get those seeds for your Spring gardens going! Soon enough, it’ll be time to harden them off and transplant them to the garden – so plan now what you’re going to grow, and get started!
I thought it would be fun to get the kids involved from the bottom up this year – rather than just have them share the spoils at the end. There’s a lot of work that goes into a garden, and it never hurts to have extra hands that know what they’re doing! So I had the kids take a class on seed starting this past weekend, and we (of course) had to leave with an armful of seed starting supplies to get the kids excited to try their hand at everything they learned.
We tried to focus on veges that preferred cooler soil temps, so that we wouldn’t have to worry *too much* about a cold snap killing everything once they were in the ground. So we got some kale, lettuce, radishes, cucumbers, and calendula flowers (HAD to get those for my herb garden!) The only reason I didn’t get tomato seeds is because I didn’t want the hassle of dealing with a warming pad underneath – and an overhead plant lamp above them. With young kids, that would just be too tempting – so I’m opting for tomato seedlings later in the spring.
FYI – the radishes make a GREAT starter plant for the kids! They grow FAST, and you could pick the radishes, and eat them right from the growing tray within 25-40 day of dropping the seeds in the dirt! This is great motivation for kids, who want to see the fruits of their labor quickly. This should keep them happy while you’re waiting for everything else to produce.
Some other vegetables that do well with cooler soil temps (50’s F) are: Onions, Broccoli, Cabbage, and Kohlrabi. Enough variety to get you started?
So, if you haven’t done this before, there are a few things you will need:
Organic Seeds of your choice (preferably local so that you have a higher chance of them living/producing).
A germinating tray – I chose an organic coconut lined tray so that I could simply remove each seedling later and place directly into the ground without disturbing the roots.
Special dirt for germinating seeds – regular dirt is too thick and doesn’t allow much oxygen in. You need the lighter, less dense dirt to coax those seeds to sprout.
Water bottle (to mist the tops once you’ve placed the seeds in the dirt).
Popsicle sticks to write (in permanent marker) what you’re growing – transplant date – and maturity date. This info should all be on the back of your seed packets.
So this part is easy – first, mix your dirt with enough water (by hand) so that it clumps loosely when you squeeze a handful. You don’t want it soaking – or too dry. Now, fill each cell of your germinating tray about 3/4 full with the dirt. This part, the kids LOVE to help out – so let them!
Place your popsicle sticks on the side of each cell to label what you’re growing there. Poke a tiny hole in the dirt, according to the depth on each seed packet, and drop 2-3 seeds in each hole (in case you have some duds in there). You can always remove the weaker seedling should more than one come up.
Cover with dirt, and mist gently with your spray bottle. You don’t want a heavier spray to disrupt the dirt/seeds once you have them planted to the desired depth.
Cover your germinating tray, and you’re good to go! Place in a lighted area, and mist as needed to keep it moist – but not saturated.
Now, when your seedlings start to come up – and have a couple leaves on them, you will begin to water the bottom of the tray, rather than misting the top. This way, you don’t get the leaves saturated (they will wilt) – and the seedling will be able to soak up the amount of water they need (not necessarily what you think they need). Me personally, I’ve always had a problem with over-watering. I just always assume they’re needing water – big mistake!
Also, once the leaves start to grow on your seedlings, you will no longer need the top on your growing tray – they will need air circulation to grow strong before we harden them off for transplanting later.
So get started on those seeds now, and later, we’ll talk about getting the best dirt possible to move those seedlings into!