I think the first thing a lot of people think of when they think of self-sufficiency is…vegetables! Anyone can grow veggies, even people who live in apartments.
I’m trying something new this year – growing vegetables from seed instead of buying the young plants from the nursery. I find you can get more variety this way, and it’s $2.50 tops for a whole packet of seeds as opposed to $2.50 for 1-6 plants.
I planted some seeds back in early February, but I think I transplanted them outside too early (unusually late frost killed a few) and apparently we have a slug problem.
We’ve started to go out and pick the slugs off at 10:30PM at night, but this takes time and effort, and that is what we here at Suburban Sustainability are seeking to avoid. I’ll address ways to combat slugs and snails in a later post.
Starting seeds indoors is a great way to get a head-start on the growing season. It’s >70 degrees F outside right now here, and judging from the size of the plants at the local hardware store, I could have started my seeds in December or January for a super-early start.
I bought some of these Ferry-Morse mini-greenhouse plant trays ($9.00 for three with plastic covers, drainage trays, and 72 little pots per tray) and some seed-starting mix ($5.00). I will attest that they are brown-thumb-proof, as a chronic brown-thumber myself.
This stuff is super-fluffy, so I like to wet it down a couple times before planting the seeds in it. Just a note: this can be done indoors, but I’m the kind of person that ends up throwing dirt everywhere despite my best intentions. Do it outdoors or in the garage if you’re this type of person. Your spouse/significant other/cat will thank you for it.
Cucumber died of frost, corn and zucchini were eaten, and spinach died of reasons unknown. I’m doing a take 2 on that one. Still trying to earn that green thumb…
P.S. Next time I’m going to avoid buying the plastic receptacles. They say that the plant easily “pops out” and that the receptacles are reusable. I found this to be the case only a fraction of the time. I ended up cutting a bunch of them up and tossing them. I’m going to go for the biodegradable receptacles next time ($2.00 for 50).
LEARN FROM MY MISTAKE:
All of these Butternut Squash seedlings were planted at the same time. Look at those two new nubs of green! I think that’s about 2 weeks from the time the first ones came out. When I transplanted outdoors, I threw away what looked to be empty receptacles with non-growing seeds. They probably would have sprouted. So be patient, and give it some time. You may be pleasantly surprised.
In several weeks, you’ll have something that looks like this!
Keep them next to the window, and try to rotate the trays 180 degrees once in a while so the seedlings don’t lean permanently in one direction. Watering is minimal with the plastic covers – the soil should feel moist to the touch. I leave the cover on until the seedlings get too tall, then I take it off and water every 1-2 days.
I prefer to keep mine in the guest bedroom with the incubator, since it warms the air a bit…but that’s another post =)
INITIAL TIME INVESTMENT: 15-30 min trip to the hardware store or nursery, 10-20 min to plant the seeds = 25-50 minutes
DAILY TIME INVESTMENT: 2 minutes