I Love Gardening.
(Albiet, I’ve never been exceptionally good at it.) I just enjoy the whole process. Seeding, transplanting, pulling weeds, watching the little plants grow bigger and bigger. And finally, eating fresh fruits and veggies!
Well, the hubs and I finally have some space for a good sized garden so we spent a weekend in January going through seed catalogues and ordered our seeds. We wanted non-GMO, Heirloom seeds, which tend to be a little bit more pricey than your average Home Depot vegetable seeds, but in my opinion they are completely worth it! Check out this post from Nourishing Days to learn more about Heirloom seeds and why they are important!
Seed Savers Exchange
After going through several catalogues, we decided to purchase from the Seed Savers Exchange. This was mostly because we thought their free seed catalogue was incredibly easy to read and had several scrumptious looking varieties, but also because we loved their mission for saving heirloom seed varieties and their community of amazing seed-saving gardeners. It didn’t hurt that they had raving reviews, either!
We picked out way too many pepper plants (for Hubs) and tomato plants (for me), plus a few other veggies, herbs, and flowers. We ordered them online and they were at our doorstep within the week!
Planning the Garden
Since this is our first real garden, we decided to build a small, 3ft x6ft square foot garden in a raised bed. We’ll also have herbs in containers and a separate area for trellis plants such as cucumbers and pole beans. We found a great, (free!) printable garden planner online through Frugal Living which helped us draw out our garden, decide where we wanted to plant everything, and how many plants we would need of each variety.
I have a confession to make. Although I’ve had several mini gardens and container gardens, I’ve never (NEVER) successfully started a vegetable plant from a seed. 🙁 I’m absolutely determined to do so this year, which means I’ve done a TON of research! Heirloom seeds, with all of their great qualities, are technically not the best choice for new gardeners because they tend to be harder to grow. They aren’t “bred” to grow easily like Hybrids. BUT I think we can do this 🙂
Starting with the last frost date, we sat down with our seed packets and wrote in our planner (and set reminders in our phone calendars) when we would need to start certain seeds, when to transplant, when to start other seeds outdoors, etc.
The Set Up
The last frost date in our area is around April 5th-April 12th, and our pepper plants all need to be seeded indoors about 8 weeks before the last frost, which was last week. So this weekend, the hubs and I set up a “Gardening Center” in our office and seeded our pepper plants!
We purchased 5 varieties of peppers ranging from sweet bell peppers to hot peppers, but we only have space in our small garden for one plant of each variety. In order to make sure that we have at least one of each, we started with 6 seeds of each variety. We planted them in plastic seed trays (I really wanted to make newspaper seed cups, but hubs wasn’t quite on board with that this time. Maybe next year!), labeled them, and placed them on a wire shelving unit in our office.
Please excuse the terrible lighting…We decided to start this planting project at 9pm (after Little Man was asleep) in our backyard. Ha!
We put two seeds per square…three squares per pepper variety
The office has one small window that we will leave open for some natural light, but we know its not enough for our baby seeds! We hung an indoor grow light from the underside of the top shelf for more “sun” power. The light is on a timer, giving our babies plenty of light from 6am to 9pm. Just a little bit extra than they would get if they were truly outside.
Please ignore all of our college paraphernalia and diplomas. Our office was the only place we had space for our “Gardening Center” 🙂
I also learned through my research and blog reading and Pinteresting that pepper plants and tomato plants love warm soil, and therefore enjoy a little bit of extra heat on the bottom of their containers for quick germination. While heated seeding mats are a great idea, they can get pricey really fast! We opted for a DIY solution as found on the Empress of Dirt, and strung LED rope lights through our wire shelves. They put off just enough heat to keep our peppers happy, but not enough that they melt the plastic. They are also indoor/outdoor lights which means they are waterproof and therefore will not be harmed during watering.
Side Note: Don’t you just love my purple Valentines Hydrangea? Hubby was very thoughtful to have bought me a potted plant instead of expensive long stemmed roses that die in 2 days. Love him 🙂
Anyways, we finished off our project with a towel under the shelving unit to save our wood floors, watered the seeds thoroughly, and are waiting impatiently for them to grow!
The tomato plants are next! We’ll start them in in two weeks! Yay! (Tomatoes are my favorite!)
What do You think?
Have you started your garden yet? Are you an avid gardener? If so, how are we doing so far?