Seedling Time!

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I’m so excited! It’s time to start my first batch of seedlings for the year! If you’re like me, you’re probably getting excited, too! This year I’m moving my seedling nursery to the basement to keep the peace in the family. I usually take over the sun porch, which is everyone’s favorite room in the house. Once I get in there and start growing things, the room smells like old garlic and organic fertilizers. And of course, there are dirt and flats of plants in various stages everywhere, along with rogue tools and other accoutrements.  At that point it’s usually difficult to make your way to the seating, and it’s impossible to enjoy it if you manage to actually get there! LOL!

It’s bad enough that I like to do my garden planning out here, and as I type, my catalogs, graph paper, pencils, seed packets, etc. are strewn about the place anyway…

I’m doing something a little different this year. The garden has been a real challenge the last few years. Life’s been messy. We are gone for days at a time so frequently that it’s hard to keep on top of the harvest, and you can just about forget doing any long term storage that takes more than ten minutes. Pretty much everything we don’t eat fresh gets thrown in the freezer or fed to the animals. Sad, but true.

I’ve always said if I could only grow one thing … it would be flowers. I love my flower gardens. As I was thinking about the harvest problem, I got this brilliant idea that I would keep the veggies to a minimum this year — just enough for fresh eating and fall pumpkins — and concentrate on cut flowers. I’ve never stepped outside the realm of cottage gardens and landscaping. So this is an experiment kind of year. Ha ha ha! Okay, okay. If you know me, you know that every year is an experiment kind of year. But this is a *different* experiment kind of year.

I’ve already sown some asclepius (Butterfly Weed/Pleurisy Root) and they are stratifying right now. I’ll bring them in later this week to germinate. Wait. What’s stratifying?!!! I know, right? I’ve been gardening in some form or another for twenty years and I’ve never heard that before. It means pre-chilling them to aid in germination. That’s different from scarifying, which more of us have heard of – where you nick the seed to help it germinate better. Nope. This is a different thing altogether. From what I can tell, there aren’t a whole lot of plants that need stratifying, but this variety of flower does. So … we learn something new.

And here’s something else new — and cool! My friend Elizabeth is a fellow garden experimenter. When she throws herself into something, she throws herself about 175% into it! She and I are both setting up our grow-light stands now and we’re comparing. I don’t expect to have more than three or four flats total (probably!), but she’s going to have more than that. After I proudly hung my new light fixture, I sent her my tidy little picture of the shelf in the basement that I commandeered next to my potting bench.

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I put two flats on it, on top of two germination mats. If I need more space, I told her, I’ll add a light to the shelf above it. Cute, huh? Ahem.

She’s like, duh, you’re wasting space. Actually she didn’t say that, and probably didn’t even think it, but I would have! LOL! And it’s true. There’s a lot of wasted space there! I like her idea tons better.

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She sent me her pictures. Turn the flats sideways and hang two grow lights above the shelf. Now you can fit four flats in the space you were taking up with two. I can see that, because of the width of them, I can actually fit five flats on my shelves if I make some simple tinfoil reflectors for each end.

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Happy seed starting!!!

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