Grit Blogs > A Long Time Coming

Starting Seeds: A Photo Tour

A photo of Shannon SaiaSo far the seed-starting efforts around here are going pretty well.

In previous years this stage of the garden has been fraught with insecurity, but like most things garden-related, this year I'm feeling a little more confident; a little more relaxed. While I would like to do things on a slightly larger and more organized scale, I am nonetheless content to do this suburban style - using an unnecessary and expensive appliance to accomplish a fairly low-tech job.

My husband gave me an Aerogarden about four or so years ago for Christmas, and though we used its pods and nutrient tablets that first winter to grow herbs, I stopped using it when the nutrient tablets were gone. For me, anything that requires that I keep purchasing something eventually becomes an annoyance, and the Aerogarden was relegated to the attic. It wasn't until a few years ago when I first considered starting seeds, rather late in the game - April or May I think - that I thought of the Aerogarden again. Or, it would be more accurate to say, that I thought of the lights.

It turns out that the Aerogarden lights make a perfectly adequate seed-starting station, and I've used it for that the past few years. The light is on an adjustable arm so that you can move it higher as the plants grow. There is a timer that can be set to provide 16 hours of light and 8 hours of darkness. All I have to do is drop by every few days to water and ogle the progress.

starting seeds 

My current fascination is with these leek seedlings, unfolding themselves up out of the ground - partly because they're so different from all the other babies and partly because it was so surprisingly quick and easy for them to come up.

leek seedlings 

The curcurbits (here cucumbers and canteloupe; the watermelon has only just curling its milky white neck up out of the soil) are an old stand-by for me now. I think they are particularly reassuring to me because they are not only not complicated but they are big compared to the tomato, pepper and leek seeds, and so everything seems so much more sturdy.

curcurbit seedlings 

Here is my latest batch of baby tomatoes just up: Nova (4) and Taxi (2).

tomato seedlings 

And a representative jalepeno pepper.

pepper seedling 

And here is one of a few nicely developing eggplant seedlings.

eggplant seedlings 

My first batch of seedlings - beefsteak tomato and jalepeno - have already started thier brief but increasingly long forays into the great outdoors to start "hardening off", not because they're going into the ground any time soon, but because as you can see, space under the grow light is limited, and I still have another batch of seeds to start - Carmen peppers and Bulgarian Carrot peppers.

hardening off seedlings 

Not pictured is a nice windowsill of sweet potato slips greening up in mason jars full of water. The parent potatoes are still pumping out slips in the darkness under my cabinet, so I guess I'll keep plucking them off and greening and rooting until I no longer have anywhere in the garden to put them. But that's a post for another time, because they won't start going into the ground for a few weeks yet. For the time being, my garden buddy and I are still just growing gardens in our minds – and ocassionally on the living room rug.

a garden made of toys 

ken
4/2/2011 7:01:32 AM

Here in southeast Texas we have a great growing season. I got my garden in the last week of febuary. I'm already harvesting radishes, broccoli, and strawberries. Check out my blog at gardenforyourlife.blogspot.com. Ken


ken
4/2/2011 7:00:13 AM

Here in southeast Texas we have a great growing season. I got my garden in the last week of febuary. I'm already harvesting radishes, broccoli, and strawberries. Check out my blog at gardenforyourlife.blogspot.com. Ken


valentina
3/22/2011 6:16:33 PM

Very cool. I am starting the gardening phase after subscribing to GRIT and I bought seeds ("Giant Pumpkin", Sunflower, and unusual fluffy scented flower, I didn't wrote down the name) but they are growing like yours. I bought two tiny tomato plants and they seem to be doing all great in Florida weather.


s.m.r. saia
3/22/2011 7:37:41 AM

Cindy and N. Dave - thanks! Dave, I have a few pots that I had totally given up on - unplugged the seed mat and stopped watering - the others in that group had been up for going on 2 weeks so I figured these were duds. Lo and behold yesteday they were coming up! So gave them some water and moved them under the light. Two years ago I tossed a pot into the corner of the yard - written off as a no-show. About a month later when I was cleaning up that spot of the yard I found that pot, with a big, sturdy zucchini plant in it!!! All of which is to say, you never know! I console myself every year that I do this with the thought that if it fails I will by tranplants, but so far so good. I look forward to seeing your seed starting station. Cindy - yep, we have hot dogs coming up in our carpet garden. What can I say, my daughter has a very green thumb!!!! I have had the same problem not wanting to thin and toss seedlings. I may even be having that problem now, but not as bad as in the past. I've been pretty ruthless about selecting one plant per pot this year, though it's been painful....


cindy murphy
3/22/2011 6:47:33 AM

Looks good, Shannon; so good that I almost have the urge to start my own seeds. Almost. Then I remember Hubs' seed starting experiment more than a few years back; we ended up with 52 million tomato plants, which I'm sure is only a slight exaggeration. After all that work, he couldn't part with any of his babies, and whether it's 52 million or slightly less, we only have room for about five. Your living room rug garden looks great; love the border - if only my garden looked so neat and tidy. Are those hot dogs I see ready to harvest?


nebraska dave
3/21/2011 6:04:03 PM

Shannon, those seed starts look very good. I've tried to start seeds and well lets say they were less than adequate for planting outside. They either died in the pod or became long and spindly. I tried last year with the heat mat and small seed pods that expand with water. I kept them warm but not a single one sprouted so I gave up and bought my standard plants from the local nursery. I have plans for a seed starting station this next winter which is basically an extension to the food storage area. I'm just a bit behind in the food storage area but no worries. There's always rainy days when I can work on it during the spring and summer. Have a great seed starting day.


nebraska dave
3/21/2011 6:03:27 PM

Shannon, those seed starts look very good. I've tried to start seeds and well lets say they were less than adequate for planting outside. They either died in the pod or became long and spindly. I tried last year with the heat mat and small seed pods that expand with water. I kept them warm but not a single one sprouted so I gave up and bought my standard plants from the local nursery. I have plans for a seed starting station this next winter which is basically an extension to the food storage area. I'm just a bit behind in the food storage area but no worries. There's always rainy days when I can work on it during the spring and summer. Have a great seed starting day.