Starting Seeds

Normally April is seed-starting season for me, because realistically you don't plant anything outside in a home garden in Vermont until Memorial Day. Until then who knows- it might snow! However, with our 80 degree "heat wave" I got the itch to start things early. This was also a great project for the toddler to do with me. She's in her "helping" stage and loved being my assistant.

First things first. Gather many egg cartons. Why? They're free and they're great for planting in. Some folks say they're not deep enough but I just poke holes in the bottom. This way if my plants get too big before it's time to put them outside I just rip the bottoms off so the roots can poke through and I put them in a cardboard flat of soil. The great thing about egg cartons is you can cut them into individual cups when it's time to plant outside and then plant the entire thing since the carton will eventually decompose. Cut the tops off. I save them because I cut toilet paper tubes in half and set them on the flat top of the egg carton to plant cucumbers in, but that'll have to be the subject of another days blog.

My stash.

I poked a little hole in the bottom of each  in case the root pack needs an escape route.

Next, gather your seeds and your soil. I use High Mowing Seeds for a couple of reasons. One they're located only a few towns away from me, their seeds are 100% organic, and they test the lots multiple times to ensure germination. Plus the added benefit of knowing the items will grow in Vermont makes me pick varieties more freely. They also have a great blog and Facebook page so you should check them out! Since we belong to a CSA I tend to grow what I plan on canning or items we eat a lot of. Today we started San Marzano tomatoes (for sauce), cherry tomatoes (to sun dry), basil (I love it!), arugula (an addiction), habaneros & jalapenos (my husband makes hot sauce), and cauliflower (it was cheap & stores well). I'll start cucumbers, pumpkins, and cushaw squash in larger containers this weekend. We'll wait to do root veggies like carrots, onion, and beets outside since they do not transplant well. Potatoes are going in potato towers so those will be done closer to May when it is consistently warmer. 

We use Green Mountain Compost Seed Starter Mix (formerly Intervale Compost), another local Vermont product that is organic. 

After dumping a small amount into a bucket I mixed in some eggshells that I had saved. I find that my plants just come out a little better with the addition of eggshells, plus in the summer once they are planted in the garden the eggshells help prevent slug and snail infestations. 

Soil with eggshells in it.

No here's where my "helper" got involved. We took spoons and she assisted me in filling the egg cartons with dirt. 

Next, I poked little holes in the middle of each egg cup and added seeds.

Add seeds into each cup.

If you tap the carton gently after that the seeds will all get covered with loose dirt. I then add a bit more soil on top.

I had intended to have the little lady help me spray the soil after planting but she fell in love with the spray bottle and ran off with it. 

She figured out how to squirt herself.

This made her very happy (and very wet).
I labeled each carton with a sharpie marker and then also clothespinned the seed packet to it. I place them on boot trays. They're great for when we water the plants and we have an abundance of boot trays that are in use during the winter season and then are not as needed come spring. I set the seedlings on a high windowsill out of the dog and toddlers reach downstairs. It gets very sunny down there during the day.


What are you starting for your garden?

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