Starting Seeds

Last week, we started our garden indoors with onions, lavender, and rosemary. Both lavender and rosemary take almost a month to germinate, so starting them early is a necessity if they’re going to be ready for planting by April 12, the date of the average last frost. To start them, I’m using little two inch pots made of strips of newspaper. I made them with this wooden pot maker:  Once I got the hang of using it, the pot maker worked really well.

our newspaper pots

Although onions germinate quickly, they need an extra-long growing season, often five months or more, so giving them a head start indoors can ensure plenty of time to develop from seeds to scallions to nice, respectable onions. This year, we’re planting Red Creole Onions, an heirloom variety well-suited for the South.  I was surprised to learn that the South’s most popular onion, the Vidalia Onion, is actually a hybrid, not an heirloom. Although Vidalia Onions taste great, I wouldn’t be able to save seed from year to year if I grew them.

okay, worms look gross, but their castings are black gold.

For starting the onions, I used plastic cell trays, and out of 72 seeds planted, 68 germinated. I should also give kudos to my red wigglers. They’ve been working hard all fall and winter eating vegetable scraps, and I now have enough worm castings to fertilize my seedlings in a few weeks once dampening off is no longer a threat. Dampening off happens when new seedlings shrivel up due to various fungi. To prevent this, gardeners use sterile soil media to start seeds. This sterile soil media lacks any nutritional value for plants, so gardeners often water with a weak liquid fertilizer or compost tea to meet the seedlings’ nutritional needs. In a few weeks, I’ll use a compost tea made from worm castings—that is, my own natural MiracleGro 😉

10 thoughts on “Starting Seeds

    1. It’s kind of funny: I keep the worms on the back porch in a big rubbermaid container. I started out with one 1lb of worms, and who knows how many I’ve got now–they’ve multiplied quickly. Hopefully, we’ll have some extra plants. Keep us updated on the setting hen.

      1. After about 25 days I threw the eggs out. The hen was off the next and she or they had scattered the eggs. I may try again this summer and separate the hen from the others or use an incubator to try and hatch some.

      2. oh that stinks! We are hoping to hatch out a batch this spring too. If we both do, we’ll have to do a little chick trading. Is your little fuzzy rooster still getting beat up on by the ladies? (he’s such a cutie) ~ Natalie

  1. We’re starting our seedlings this weekend. Exciting, isn’t it?! We are beginning with tomatoes and peppers for our market garden. I have about a dozen seed trays, but beyond that we are using the newspaper pots too. Best thing about them–putting them straight into the ground without disturbing the roots of the more delicate plants–no transplant stress.

    1. Yeah, I really like the little newspaper pots so far. Good luck with the tomatoes and peppers. We’ll be starting those pretty soon, as well. It’s exciting!

    2. I liked the newspaper pots too, until Stephen decided to use organic fertilizer in them…..while they are germinating in the house…..which means that our whole house smells worse than the chicken coop. I might be moving out to the barn if they don’t germinate and move to the porch soon! What type of peppers are you planting this year?

      1. OMG! I’ve heard more than one person this season make the mistake of the fertilizer! LOL!

        We are going all out with the peppers this year. Jason has decided to play with them and come up with his own hot sauce recipes and hot pickles. He has chosen 10 different varieties of them–heirlooms from mostly the Slavic regions that we think will grow well here in our climate. (Can’t wait until August when we’ll no doubt have peppers growing out our ears! LOL!)

      2. Homemade hot sauce sounds yummy! We tried and tried to come up with a salsa recipe that we liked…which translates into “we wanted to make our own Mi Puebs salsa.” Our favorite Mexican restaurant makes their own fresh each day and no matter what we do it never comes out quite right….just weird.

        Definitely post about any pepper recipes you try that you like!

      3. Isn’t it fun, though, trying to figure out a ‘secret’ restaurant recipe! Is it cooked salsa? I do have a killer recipe for pico de gallo, which is fresh–not cooked?

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