January 27, 2009
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.