January 27, 2009

Gardening Freedom?

I would really like to grow my own seedlings. For a while now I've put growing seedlings on a pedestal, thinking of it as an "advanced" gardening skill that is "out of my league," but that's some seriously pessimistic thinking and I need to get past it.

Let's face it, I'm getting to the point in my gardening career where I am no longer a complete beginner. I know a thing or two and it's time to try (again or for the first time) things that I have considered to be out of my reach. Growing my own seedlings is definitely one of these things. I did try this once before.... but all the seedlings died. That was 3 years ago though.

In my mind, I feel that If I can master the whole seedling thing I can pretty much grow whatever I want on whatever time-line makes sense. That's real freedom.

What I do now is spend a lot of time planning when I'll go to Allandale farm. I go with a vague sense of what I want to grow, but then I always find that some things aren't there so I end up making decisions on the spot. I find the whole thing a little bit stressful, in part because I don't own a car so dropping by the farm whenever I get the urge is not an option. I can't to go to the farm too late in May because a lot of the plants will be snatched up so I usually end up making two trips, one for "early" stuff like greens and one for "later" plants like tomatoes and eggplant. Similarly, when I've ordered from Re-Vision House, the plant pick-up is in the middle of May which is a little bit too early for most things to go in the ground. You see my predicament. I'm beholden to the whims and caprices of others. I want gardening independence!

Towards this end, the 2 ideas I've been toying with are as follows:

1) Soda Bottle Greenhouse.
I got this idea from a post by Mr. Brown Thumb. The basic gist is you take a regular 2 liter soda bottle, cut it in half and then plant the seeds in the bottom half. Terrific right? He seems like a very competent gardener and suggested just "trying it out" on my porch so I think that's what I'll do. I find it hard to believe that a greenhouse could really be that warm, but I know this is an old and tested way to grow things and people do it all the time.

2) Figure out how to set up a good indoor growing system in my apartment.
I live in the city. I don't have a ton of space and the space I do have is shared with animals and a roommate. I think my set up last time was ok. I purchased little soil pellets in a plastic container with a removable clear top and stuck the seeds in there. The idea is to stick the whole contraption in a sunny spot, water occasionally and watch your future garden grow. My future garden struggled and eventually died but I think the problems boiled down to heat and light.

I spent a lot of time moving the seedlings to spots far from my plant-munching cats. My best windows in terms of sunlight happen to be in places they love to go. But how expensive could it be to get a little lamp for a few seedlings? I've got to really think about this, but I would love growing my own seedlings so much that the idea of getting a "sun" lamp for them seems completely reasonable. I do have a bit of an outlet shortage too, but I think I can make it work.

Oh and I've recently learned that usually the pellets in these seedling kits are made of peat which, as it turns out, is not a very sustainable soil. This time I'll need to look for coir pellets or something similar.

Come to think of it, maybe I should try the soda bottle greenhouses INDOORS. The cats might still try to get to them, but it would be a lot harder.


Scott said...

This is my second year starting my own seedlings indoors and have had a lot of success with it growing a wide variety of veggies and fruits: peas, tomatoes, onions, and strawberries to name a few.

The one thing that made a big difference in my seedling success was small frequent waterings. I top watered every day, a few ounces per flat. My plants seemed less stressed with good continuous growth.

Eveland said...

I found your blog yesterday and I loved it... from the rubermaid compost to your sink drama.

I'm about to pick up a rental car to drive to an organic nursery just to browse and learn... I have a yard in my place and for the last few summers I have only grown a couple of tomatoes, eggplants and herbs.. this year I want to grow corn. I don't know why. But I will try and you have inspired me to add beets, beans, lettuce.. ohh the possibilities.

Looking forward to reading you in the future.

NVG-WmsFam said...

How are your soda bottle seedlings doing? Miss reading your posting! Vikki at www.survival-cooking.com

Aaliyah Aldaco said...

People who live in a city would really want some fresh air inside their home. Some cities are so polluted and it isn't pleasant to breathe polluted air! It's good that indoor gardening is already practiced these days. However, the feeling of having a wide garden outside is somehow different in having one inside. It actually depends on people's preferences.

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