Paula's Patch: A Minnesota Garden

Come wander in; my gate is always open! Gardening / Birding

2 Weeks Until Spring! March 6, 2012

Spring officially begins Tuesday, March 20th. Wow–cannot wait! Even though it’s been mild I’m certainly ready for some spring beauty. I long for the days when I can wander out into my backyard and enjoy the lingering fragrance of lilacs blooming, smell the earthy scents of my herbs, and hear the sweet songs of the birds.

Although I no longer have enough sun in my yard for a great vegetable garden, I have fond memories of planting and harvesting all kinds of vegetables with my children as they were growing up. I had particular fun with the corn. I could only find room for a couple of short rows, but it yielded enough sweet, delicious corn for us. I still grow herbs in pots on my deck and this year I’m going to try putting some salad greens in a couple of pots as well. For the rest, I’ve joined a local CSA. I can’t wait for my crop share of organic vegetables from Thorn Crest Farm!

If you have space to plant edibles in your garden, now would be the time to get your seed starting materials ready. Tomatoes are one of the first things you’ll want to start indoors. They will need a good 6-8 weeks before they can be moved outside (Zone 4).

  • Use containers that are at least 2″ deep. They can be plastic ones you’ve sterilized with soap and hot water, or the biodegradable peat pots you can buy. I have tried putting my seeds in egg cartons, but honestly, they are not deep enough to render a strong bedding plant. It’s a good idea, but didn’t work well for me.
starting seeds indoors | | paula bonelli

copyright paula bonelli

  • Fill containers 3/4’s full with potting mix.
  • Put 3 tomato seeds in each container and cover with 1/4″ of the potting mix.
  • Thoroughly soak the dirt with water. Keep soil moist, but not soggy. You can place plastic wrap loosely over the top of the containers to promote humidity which will help the seeds germinate. Remove the wrap as soon as seeds sprout.
  • Put the containers in your sunniest window or under grow lights. Soil temps should be approx. 60 degrees. If your house is cool, you may want to purchase heating mats to warm the soil. To germinate, seeds need 8-12 hours of light a day. In these conditions, seeds should germinate in 7-14 days.
  • When seeds sprout, remove all but one from each container. (If some containers don’t sprout, you can replant them.)
  • The seedlings can be planted outdoors in late May or early June. About 1 week before you plan to move them outside, begin the process of gradually getting the tender plants ready for the outdoor air. Move them from your house to a porch or warm garage for a week. Then you can move them outside to a sheltered spot protected from the wind. (If the weather threatens to be cool during this time of hardening off, move them back inside.) Once the daytime air temps have risen to 75 degrees and soil temps are 60 degrees, they can safely go into your outdoor garden.

Need information about what to plant when in your Zone? Soulsby Farm shared a link to SproutRobot in a recent post. It’s seems like a great resource. It’s a web service that tells you when to plant and sends you seeds, making it easy to start a veggie garden. Just enter your zip code for planting information in your area/zone. While the info you can get without signing up is limited, you can sign up for a free account for additional access to email reminders, etc. They also have reasonably priced paid plans if you want detailed planting guides and heirloom seeds mailed to you when it’s time to plant them. Pretty cool! Check it out.

I love things that make my busy life easier, don’t you?


2 Responses to “2 Weeks Until Spring!”

  1. You sure make all that work look and sound easy. Nice article …

    • Paula B Says:

      Thanks for stopping by Robert. Looks like you have much more info and experience starting seeds indoors! It is fairly easy getting them started, but when I had a more sunny locale in my yard, I much preferred starting them there….much more success than the drafts and unnatural light of my home. 🙂

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