Friday, March 12, 2010

Garden Update: From Seeds to Seedlings

Our little ones are growing up! It seems like only yesterday we were putting them into the ground. lol

It's getting closer & closer to the last frost date (March 15 for our area). We started seeds indoors to get a jump-start on the season. Last year was our first official garden (I'd done a few container pots of peppers and tomatoes in the past). It was hit or miss with the seeds, unfortunately, so we went with various transplants that thrived in our garden.

This year, we're trying out the seeds one more time. Part of the problem with last year is that I overplanted the seeds in each Jiffy pot. Who knew that it only takes 1-3 seeds per pot? And for plants such as corn (pictured below), it only takes just one seed kernel to get them going.

Last year's corn did well. We planted the seeds straight into the ground, but only planted a few seeds, so needless to say we did not have a bumper crop of corn. This year, we have an entire tray of Jiffy pots of corn. Our plan is to plant these when they are 3 weeks old, then start another tray of Jiffy pots of corn. When they are 3 weeks old, we'll plant them in the garden with their big brothers & sisters, and start a 3rd round in the Jiffy pots. As the corn stalks grow, we'll have plenty of ears of corn to have corn on the cob and (fingers crossed) we'll be able to can some corn, too!

We learned the hard way last year that peas don't do so well in warm weather. We got a late start to our garden (I think we planted everything in mid or late April). The peas started growing all right but quickly fried off, sadly. They did, however, thrive when we planted them in late Summer. By the time the seedlings really got going, it had cooled off enough for them. One of the nice things about living in our neck of the woods is that we get two good growing seasons--Spring to Summer, and Summer to Fall.

Peas also only need one seed in each Jiffy pot. Once about 2 or 3 weeks old, we'll put these in the ground. (Our peas are in the foreground of the picture below). But rather than plant more in the Jiffy pots, we'll be able to plant them right into the ground next to their brothers & sisters. Sugar Snap Peas are excellent for growing & harvesting because you don't have to shell the peas. Let them plump up nice--the longer you let them grow, the sweeter they'll get--and you can eat them whole when you pick them. Peas like to climb, so we'll use the chicken wire fencing to help them reach towards the sun. Pictures to come as we get things into the ground!
Our lettuce did not do well AT ALL last year when we first started the garden. We first planted seeds in the Jiffy pots, but I overplanted. The tray of pots looked more like a jungle because there were so many seedlings! I then planted lettuce seeds directly into the ground, and again, no luck. They started to grow but quickly died off. I partly blame the late start, and I partly blame the type of compost we used, which was bought directly from the county compost facility. We planted the seeds immediately after laying down this compost, and it STUNK to high heaven! I couldn't even stay in my clothes and had to change immediately. We should have let that compost sit a few days, and then plant. That's just my opinion, though, I don't know if it would have made a difference.

We did plant lettuce transplants in late Summer, which gave us plenty of fresh salads until December, when the last of the lettuce started dying off. I'm hoping that we have better luck with our seedlings this year (pictured in the foreground of the above pic). So far, so good!

The kids' marigolds are also sprouting! Aren't they just adorable? If they grow up enough, I'd like to put the marigolds into the garden with our veggies. Marigolds have a reputation of repelling garden pests such as beetles. But even if they don't, they're still pretty to look at and will add some nice color in the garden. And the kids will enjoy seeing the fruit of their labels blossoming up, too. :)

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