Originally I planned to plant the rest of the seedlings next weekend, April 2d, but I have a feeling the warm weather is going to be early this year, so I moved the planting up a week. Full disclosure: Every year I think “it’s going to be early” and am usually wrong.
Before I get started on this week’s activity, an update on the onions planted last week.
They started sprouting about three days after planting, and as you can see, at a week in there are lots of little onions, many sporting the seed husk on the shoot.
The job this week is starting all of the various seedlings that will be needed around the beginning of June. Earlier this year I posted Garden 2022: How many & when?, which detailed exactly what would be planted today. There are a few additions, as I completely forgot to include the various herbs we grow, specifically basil, thyme, rosemary and parsley. Also added were the mammoth sunflowers and pansies- hadn’t made the decision to grow them when that earlier post was written.
Nothing too exciting about this work. The first step is to prepare the potting soil. I typically use Pro-Mix. It performs well and is not terribly expensive. I start by half filling a plastic tub with the mix, then adding water to it, mixing it well. The consistency desired is a damp soil, but not saturated.
Once the soil is ready, it’s time to begin filling the plastic cups. I used to start all of my seedlings in the standard 1020 tray inserts that provide 48 cells per tray. This worked fine, but I found the plants became too large for the small cells and would need an intermediate transplanting to larger containers before being put out in the garden. That’s exactly what I did for several years until I decided to simply plant them in the larger cups from the start. Doing this requires a bit more rack space, as the 1020 trays hold only 32 seedlings in the larger containers. I still use the 48 cell inserts for seedlings that will be transferred to other planters, mostly the flowers I grow.
After preparing the containers and trays, it’s a fairly simple process to plant the seeds. Some of the seeds are large, and some are small. Some are like dust; impatiens and thyme seed come to mind. Regardless, one seed to a cell or container.
Once the trays are loaded and well-labeled, onto the racks they go. The heating mats will be used until the seeds germinate, then will be turned off. I keep a close eye on the moisture level of the seedlings, trying to maintain a good balance of not too dry, but definitely not soaked. The idea of the germination inserts and containers being in the 1020 trays allows for bottom-draw hydration of the seedlings. The water goes into the trays and is wicked up into the plants through the bottom of their containers, which have perforations. This is the best way to hydrate the plants.
After about four hours of work the planting was complete and the trays installed on the racks. The final tally was 96 vegetable and 94 flower seedlings started.
The final step was updating the garden tracking spreadsheet with the counts and dates, as well as adding the missed items noted at the beginning of this post. I’ve added the updated sheet to the end of this post.
Over the next few weeks all there is to do is monitor the progress of the seedling growth. I’ll post updates as things start to pop, and perhaps discuss other garden-related items that cross my mind as I await the weather to become a bit drier and a bit warmer. At that point it will be time to get out into the garden and begin getting the beds ready for planting. I can’t wait!