Wednesday, April 22, 2015

GriggsDakota April Garden

We have experienced a Spring setback this season in GriggsDakota. Some rain has fallen and with it came cold, wind, and a few snow squalls. Field work is at a stand still.
So I have been tending the Spring garden. It consists of the starter plants in the porch. Outdoor garden planting cannot begin for three or four weeks, but we get a head start by starting some seeds indoors.  
 In addition to the windows' light, there are grow lights in the lamps. It is dark and cloudy in the Spring, so these plants get artificial light as a supplement. I started planting about five weeks ago. I learned to plant seeds indoors from my grandparents who were avid gardeners. They didn't use grow lights and used all recycled materials for starter plants. They didn't buy seed starter mix or potting soil. Grandma baked soil in the oven to kill bacteria and weed seeds before we planted. This year I used a combination of purchased and recycled materials for starting seeds. And I never bake dirt anymore, but it feels good to know that I could do it the old fashioned way if I needed to.
This is my favorite part of gardening: Watching seeds come to life.
Boxes with all the same variety are labeled, and those with assorted varieties have each plant labeled. I use blue masking tape to label, as well as purchased sticks. I try to be very careful with labels, because many of these will be planted by my children, grandchildren or friends. I want them to know what to expect when the plant produces. 
There is a heated seed mat on the floor. When I plant a seed that needs a warm start, I cover the box containing the seeded pots or cubes loosely with plastic and let it sit on this mat just until I see a seed beginning to sprout. It is then removed to a shelf and another box or pan goes in.
This year I used a lot of these little starter pellets that expand when soaked with water and harbor a seed nicely while it germinates. Watering becomes the tricky part after the seedling emerges. Too much will drown them and too little will dry them out. Watering from the bottom works best which is why I use boxes lined with aluminum foil, baking pans, or nearly anything else that holds water, as containers for my tender seedlings.
The seedlings are planted, starter pellet and all, into a peat pot or a pot I've made from old newspapers. These will be set into the ground, so the roots can grow through the pot and into the garden without being disturbed.
Fingers crossed, hoping Spring will return soon to GriggsDakota.

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