26 March 2011

Seed starting 2011 and garden report

Before I report on my seed starting efforts this year, I did want to update you on our house hunting adventures. We're buying a house in East Kensington, which is in North Philadelphia, for my non-Philly readers. We've had our inspection (which went well, over all), and assuming all our loan paperwork goes through and we meet all deadlines, I will be a homeowner! I'm very excited, but also nervous about such a huge commitment. More later, I'm sure. Now, back to sowing seeds.

I'm not starting a huge amount of seeds since our future move will make it difficult to transport seedlings from one house to the other.

Above: I decided to experiment with multiple seed-starting containers. In these re-purposed toilet paper tubes, I've sown parsley, thyme, and oregano. All sown on March 20.

Above: These are two views of the same tray of seedlings, all started on March 6 and sown inside a plastic flat (Burpee brand, but made from recycled plastic). I used a mixture of coconut coir and vermiculite to start my seeds. I'm trying to avoid peat moss, since it's not a renewable resource. This flat contains leeks, cauliflower, basil, several varieties of tomatoes, and mini eggplants. I also sowed a bunch of peppers, and they're finally starting to peek out of the soil. The largest seedlings--which you see in the 4 lower-right cells--are cabbage. They're starting to grow too large for their cells, so I transplanted them into larger containers this morning.

Above: I used yogurt containers to transplant the larger cabbage seedlings.

Above: This is the rosemary that I started in January in Jiffy pots (peat moss, I know, but I had these from a while ago). I used organic potting soil rather than seed starting mix, and they seem to be holding up fine. The sage seeds I started at the same time never germinated. I'm trying again, though, and sowed a few sage seeds inside toilet paper tubes.


I also sowed several seeds directly into my community garden plot in South Philly; spinach, arugula, snap peas, dill, lettuce, beets, and radishes all went into the ground last Saturday. I checked today, and it looks like only 1 snap pea is poking out of the ground. We did get to several nights of freezing weather, so I hope most of the seeds make it.
Unfortunately, we still have no reliable source of water for the garden, so I pay careful attention to the weather forecast. When there's no rain predicted, I will need to drive from my house to the garden in order to transport buckets of water. We hope to build some sort of water harvesting system, but that's made difficult by the fact that there are no accessible drain spouts.

Above: Two views of the Moore Street Community Garden. There is still a lot of work to be done: several beds need to be filled with compost; we need to mulch the walkways; we need to find a reliable water sources; and a few beds are still waiting to be built.

Above: Potential rain barrels, waiting to serve a purpose.