I’ve been thinking about it for a while now (ever since my seeds arrived), and finally found some time to devote to beginning the garden for this year. I chose to go with seeds from Seed Savers Exchange this season; last year I went with seeds from the Hudson Valley Seed Library. I loved my seeds last year, but wanted to try out another vendor. I also love what Seed Savers is all about. Their work is very important.
This early in the season it’s still pretty cold in the Northeast – in fact, it’s been downright frigid here. 20-something degrees in the mornings, highs only in the low 40s. I wore a hat, scarf, and gloves all weekend! I checked my plot downstairs in the yard, and that dirt is frozen solid right now. So, my solution to getting the garden going while it’s like this is to start my seeds inside, where it’s warm and comfy.
Sprouting Containers and Potting Soil
This year I decided to start all my seeds in cardboard egg cartons. I considered buying a seed starting system, but the containers are plastic and the little seed starting environment is often made of peat, which is not sustainable. The egg cartons – which I saved up over several months – are biodegradable and compostable, so I can chop them up and dump them in the composter in the yard when I’m through with them. For ease of use, I cut off the egg carton top and security flap in the front of the carton. I’ll compost them this week.
Later on I’ll “pot up” to newspaper pots, which are also compostable. I found a method that creates a paper pot without a seam (origami!), meaning I won’t have to use tape (two page sheets from the Daily News are a perfect size). I found tape to be problematic last year – when the paper pots got wet, and the tape just fell of, risking the pot coming apart. Not fun and kind of stressful.
I also chose to use the potting soil from the Lower East Side Ecology Center. “New York Pay Dirt”, as it’s called, is what I used last year to start my seeds in. It’s well aerated – light and fluffy. It contains coconut coir as an alternative to peat and also contains worm casings made from NYC kitchen scraps. I love working with this product.
I chose to split up the distribution of seeds by giving full cartons to melons and tomatoes, and split cartons for tomatillos, gherkin, and carrots.
What I Planted
This year I’m really excited to try out growing melons, and the Mexican Sour Gherkins are really intriguing. Apparently they taste sour right off, so I think they’d be fantastic fermented. I’m also determined to have tomatillos fruit this year (it was an epic fail last year – not one fruit from a gazillion blossoms). Here’s a list of what I planted:
- Charentais melon
- Eden’s Gem melon
- Blondköpfchen tomato
- Silver Fir tomato
- Stupice tomato
- Green Husk tomatillo
- Purple de Milpa tomatillo
- Mexican Sour gherkin
- Danvers carrot
These seeds take anywhere between 9 and 12 weeks to fruit post-transplant, so I’ve got a lot of waiting around time ahead of me. However, I’ll also be planting herbs, arugula, lacinato kale, thyme, and some wildflowers, but those are faster growing, so I’ll be able to enjoy the garden bounty in the late spring/early summer. I’m especially excited about the lacinato kale, which I’ll use to make delicious kale chips. Borage is in the plans, too, which will go great in homemade limeade, or perhaps even in homemade fermented gingerale!
I’ll house my sprouting system to the side and behind the sink, where I can give the plants some light (artificial and natural).
It is exciting to start the process! Stay tuned…