Grit Blogs > Growing Possibilities

Seed Starting: Preparing to Garden

By Paul Gardener

Tags: seed starter, peas, gardening,

A photo of Paul GardenerEvery year it seems like I go straight from pulling out the last plants of the year and whining about how I’ll miss the garden to planning the next years garden, planting seeds and trying to play catch up before you know it! It’s that time again for sure and much is in the works for this glorious growing season!

After last years bumper crops, we decided that this year we’d start not only jokingly calling our little backyard garden our “farm” but actually treating it like it was a little bit of one. We’ll be doing this by participating in one of our local farmers markets. That being the case, we have a lot of solid prep work to do and need to really take our planning and execution to a much higher level. Luckily, so far so good.

It’s not been without it’s challenges mind you. The Monday before last Thanksgiving our whole family was in a car accident that totalled out our car. Everyone was generally OK, but four of the five of us needed a couple of months of Physical Therapy and my wife ended up needing her shoulder operated on. That’s left me with A LOT of work to do on my own. We’ve had to make a few adjustments but as I said, so far so good. How about a little pictorial update of the spring so far?

Peas were pre-germinated early this year and managed to get put into the ground a full two weeks earlier than last year. This wan’t necessarily because I was so well prepared as much as because the seed was getting old (2007 seed!) and I wanted to make sure it would sprout before relying on it too late in the season to replant. It has a really good germination rate as you can see so it was planted a few days later.

Pre-germinated peas

I’ve found that because I spend so much time “growing my soil” that I’ve been able to grow very intensively in my raised beds. Much more so that I would be able to in a more traditional garden bed. By planting my peas 4-5 inches apart in rows spaced 4-5 inches apart, I’m able to get somewhere near 150-170 pea plants to grow in one of my 4-by-6-foot raised beds. I plant two of those each year and it gives us a lot of peas.

Pea seedlings popping up

Here’s a “pea’s eye” view of the new seedlings popping up.

There’s been a lot growing on indoors too. The seed starting rack that I wrote about last year has been set up in front of our east facing sliding glass doors and is chock full of lots of good stuff.

Seed starting rack

The bottom shelf is a hodgepodge of some early iceburg lettuce and cauliflower starts, some salad greens for cut and come again consumption, some luffa and squash starts that will end up in our green house soon and a mix of flower starts.

Tomatoes and peppers in the seed starter

On the top shelf are 48 cells of Kohlrabi, 24 cells of Broccoli and 24 cells of Brussel Sprouts on one side that are getting about ready to harden off and get into the ground soon. On the side nearer to us in this picture are tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes, oh yeah and some peppers. 54 tomato starts and 18 peppers to be exact.

Helpful hint: If you’ve decided to start some of your own seedlings indoors this year, make sure to watch for phosphorus deficiency. It’s a common problem if seedlings aren’t warm enough. You’ll start to see purplish coloring and wilting in previously healthy seedlings. Keep them warm and try supplementing with a good liquid fertilizer. For instance a good organic fish emulsion.

Anyway, as I said, things are coming along pretty good so far in my neck of the woods. Hope they are for you as well. Now, if I could just get this Utah weather to make up its mind!


You can reach Paul Gardener by email, or check his personal blog at A posse ad esse 


mountain woman
3/29/2010 1:15:33 PM

Paul, That's wonderful news and I look forward to more of your posts and your fantastic pictures too.

paul gardener
3/28/2010 11:46:57 PM

Thanks both of you for your concern. We really are all doing well and things are coming along nicely. Hopefully I can get my act together now and post a little more regularly! P~

nebraska dave
3/26/2010 5:58:40 PM

Paul, I am sorry to hear about your accident. I wondered where you went on the Grit blogs. I’m so glad that things are getting back to normal and you are well on your way to a good Spring planting. I know what you mean about those raised beds. They are much easier to take care of and growing space is ever so much smaller. I now have three 4X8 foot raised beds which is an expansion of two from last year. I have been experimenting with sprouting seeds but my in town – out of town schedule is such that it’s difficult to keep the seeds alive while being gone for a week. My plantings are not on your level and I reckon I’ll be buying from the big box store again this year. This last week has been the first week of half way decent weather. It’s still in the 30s at night but is starting to get into the 50s on a regular basis. Yea!! I’ll be out in the garden for sure next week as the potatoes are to be planted by Good Friday here and the onions can be planted as well. It will be good to just dig in the dirt again. It’s been a long LONG Winter. May all your seedlings produce a hundred fold.

mountain woman
3/26/2010 4:02:43 PM

Oh, Paul, I'm so very sorry to hear about your car accident and the problems you and your family had. How terrible but I'm glad you are all doing okay. I enjoyed your article. I have my seedlings started and they are doing well but I'm definitely going to look for phosphorus deficiency. I know what you mean about the weather. Vermont has been crazy swinging from the 60s to below zero. Loved your beautiful photographs too.