Starts

Our starts look great this year.  We don’t have a greenhouse so we rely on grow lights, limiting the amount of seeds we can start in the spring. Still, we’ve been able to start a lot of plants and they’ve done well.

Some of this years grow-light starts. Taken 10 days ago.

Some of this years grow-light starts. Taken 10 days ago.

We need a lot more than we’re able to start ourselves, so this year we contracted with a local nursery from most of our starts.  They’re ready now and we’re going to pick them up today.

Now we have to figure out what we’re going to do with them.

The ground is still too muddy to till and there’s more rain in the forecast tomorrow.  We’ll try to keep the starts healthy until the ground dries out, but that won’t be easy.

I think this will be the last year we try to grow from transplants in the spring. The weather is just too unpredictable. Probably next year we’ll only do direct-seeding in the spring.

Whether any of this years starts ever turn into vegetables remains to be seen.

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20 comments on “Starts

  1. Sue says:

    I wish you luck with juggling the starts. That’s always difficult. I often wish I could snap my fingers and the plants would move in and out of protection during those couple of weeks that they need to harden off, but yet need shelter in case of freezing temps. Ah, spring—never a dull moment!

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    • Bill says:

      For us the biggest problem is trying to time the starts so that they’re ready when the soil is ready for planting. When the gardens will be ready depends upon how wet it is and that can vary widely from year to year. Spring is never dull and it seems that no two are the same.

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  2. Joanna says:

    Can you not pot on and then cover with garden fleece? Not sure what you call garden fleece now but the white floaty stuff you put over vegetables? Row covers maybe? Anyway we have often started things like that off in our greenhouse, but due to our normally very cold early spring temperatures we have to still cover on cold nights.

    Have you ever thought of doing raised beds with paths of woodchips around the beds? We find woodchip paths are great for keeping the mud down and at least a more predictable way of getting somethings in early. I know raised beds work when you can set aside a permanent place and not so good in multiple use areas. I would like to do more raised beds, but in one area it will not be possible in, because our sheep will be housed there over winter.

    Over the next few years I am going to look at putting in more perennials in the places I can set aside, as they are great for getting going in spring and providing spring greens. I think I might invest in the book “Around the world in 80 plants” as that gives overwintering perennials to get a head start on spring. The advantage with many of the perennials is they are also nice looking plants and so are great for flower borders.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joanna, I’ve been watching British allotment gardening videos all during the winter months. Gardeners in England have mastered the art of allotment gardening. I’m amazed that folks actually pay a stiff price to have an allotment garden. Here in the middle of the U.S. vacant lots are in abundance. My city that I live in encourages those that want to garden, to take control of a vacant lot and use it for gardening for free. It’s an advantage to the city to have someone keep the weeds under control so the city don’t have to do it. My gardens are from purchasing foreclosed properties from the city which are vacant derelict lots. The last one I bought was only $100 (68 pounds) and measures 12 meters by 18 meters. This lot and first one purchased four years ago are in the middle of the inner city. I have self proclaimed myself to be an Urban Farmer. I always like to see your comments.

      Have a great across the pond garden day.

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    • Bill says:

      Our problem is not temperature, it’s wetness.

      Our raised beds are ready now and I planted lettuce in them yesterday. It’s the gardens we till with a tractor that give me trouble. We have a lot of clay in our soil and if it’s worked while wet it dries into rock hard clods and is ruined for the year. Until it dries we can’t make our rows and beds. It’s still way too wet and we have rain forecast for tomorrow and Friday. Meanwhile the starts are ready to go and will start to get overgrown and root-bound if we have to wait too long.

      Raised beds have lots of advantages over our row-crop gardens. We have added more but we still rely primarily on large gardens (we tend 18 of them).

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  3. Bill, We here in Nebraska are having just the opposite of your weather. Nary a drop of rain in about six weeks with none out on the horizon. It isn’t an issue just yet as the frost in the ground has supplied moisture for now but by planting time which is about six weeks away, it could become a problem. I’m in the process of setting up irrigation for Terra Nova Gardens from the natural Spring but it’s a long way from being completed. That could take a couple more years before it’s all in place the way I would like it to be. In the mean time watering will be done with a five gallon bucket by dipping water out of the spring. It’s way better than hauling water like I did the first year. Temperatures are more normal now with middle 50s during the day and frosty nights of 30s. Soil temperatures are still below 50 so it could be awhile before the spuds are planted which usually is the first things to be planted.

    Garden cleanup continues with preparation for the designated vegetable areas. Another guerilla garden section is being prepared for tillage next year. The property to the south of Terra Nova Gardens is a neglected property owned by someone that lives in Montana. It’s always an over grown weed mess. Each year I encroach another 10 foot into that property and plant corn or other plants just for the wildlife to have. Eventually, when I get my garden area fence secured, I’m hoping it will ease the pressure on critters trying to get inside my garden when they have easy access to a garden area outside the fence. So we will see if that indeed works or not. 🙂

    Have a great seed starts day.

    P.S. Hoping and praying that the rain stops for you to start planting.

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    • Bill says:

      If we had your weather our spring crops would be in the ground already. It’s been an unusually wet one for us and our soil doesn’t drain well. Spring planting can be an iffy proposition here. But further evidence of the superiority of raised beds–the soil in those is fine. We have 12 raised beds and I planted them all in lettuce yesterday. So there is that. But I hate keeping these starts out of the ground so long. Jut gotta be patient.

      I love your guerrilla gardening. 🙂

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  4. Laurie Graves says:

    Those starts do look great! While you’re figuring out how to protect your seedlings, we’re still waiting to see the ground. No mud yet, that’s for sure, and still pretty brisk.

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  5. Seeking Joyful Simplicity says:

    Let us know how things go…always looking for opportunities to learn new strategies, and hopefully make fewer mistakes.

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    • Bill says:

      It’s a constant learning process for us.

      Back when we were only homesteading, and not trying to grow for market, I gave up on trying to grow broccoli and cabbage in the spring. Too much uncertainty on when the soil would be ready and then you have to worry about them bolting or being eaten up by cabbage worms before harvest. It seemed pointless given how easily they grow here in the fall. I think this will be my last year trying to squeeze in a spring crop of those.

      Our raised beds are ready to plant. In our experience they’re much more spring-friendly than our traditional gardens.

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  6. You inspire me to get cracking growing more of my own veggies at home.
    Have a beautiful day Bill.
    🙂 Mandy xo

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  7. avwalters says:

    Starts/seeds, starts/seeds, starts/seeds? I can never figure whether the growth advantage of starts weighs in their favor, or whether the transplant shock/delay eliminates the advantage. Either way, I always end up with a seedling nursery for infill, to cover the ones who don’t make it.

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    • Bill says:

      Our spring growing season requires us to get a head start on certain veggies (such as cabbage, head lettuce and broccoli) and even then whether we’ll harvest before they bolt is an iffy proposition. Many of our spring crops are planted from seed and we don’t have to worry about trying to time the starts. Peas, chard, Asian greens, beets, kohlrabi, lettuce mix, spinach, radishes, turnips, mustard greens–all can be grown successfully from seed, planted when the land permits. I think next year I’m just going to pass on trying to grow head lettuce, cabbage and broccoli in the spring.

      Now if I had a high tunnel, it would be no problem.

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  8. Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

    Ah, the farmer’s conundrum…
    Good luck with hardening off and successful transplantation.

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