Time to Plant!
It's starting to warm up here in northeastern Oklahoma. I planted two varieties of peas, some spinach, and cilantro in my beds last Tuesday. So I am really hoping it stays nice! I love snow, but I am becoming more of a summer person since I started gardening.
The items I planted last week were from seed, directly sown in the ground, but some things do better started inside. In January I started some onion, cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower seeds inside. I lined a big cardboard box with foil (and hot glued to secure it). I then cut a hole in the top to fit a bulb in (I bought a florescent bulb and a converter socket--it's a bulb socket on one end and plugs into an outlet on the other end). I plugged the bulb into an extension cord and set the whole thing in my garage. This is my seedling's light house and they seem to be doing well. It has been a bit cold and they might not be growing quite as fast as they would inside, but I think they'll be fine. All except the onions, they are not far enough along yet. I think you have to start onions really, really early. I will just buy onion plants this year and try from seed next year.
I don't know why some choose to start seeds in a non-soil product, but others say it doesn't matter. I like mushroom compost, so I started my seeds in that.
I have been saving milk jugs for the last few months. I cut the bottom third off and used it as a pot for the seeds. I didn't poke holes in the bottom, I'm just making sure I don't over water. I figure I can use the tops of the milk jugs as cloches to protect young plants from frost.
[caption id="attachment_874" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Cabbage Seedlings"][/caption]
I started setting these cabbage seedlings outside, last week, each day and bringing them in at night. This will get them ready to be transplanted into the garden this week. I also hope to get the onions in this week, too. I plan to sow beet seeds the following week (Mar. 8th), and start tomatoes and pepper indoors; transplant broccoli and cauliflower seedlings the week after (Mar. 15th), and sow lettuce seeds; and sow carrot seeds the week of March 22nd. These dates are according to my Clyde's Garden Planner, with a last frost date of April 1st. This has been an extremely helpful tool. I could spend hours searching for this information in books and online, or buy this handy tool for a few dollars. (Also, a general rule is to plant these early spring items when the soil is 40ºF.)
Cost of Gardening
I know some of you are concerned with the cost of gardening, I know I was. I had dreams of a large garden, but didn't want to spend and arm and a leg to set it up. So last summer, I came up with an idea. I figured that my garden will bring my grocery bill down through the fruitful season, so why not make my gardening costs a part of my grocery budget now. I started in August setting aside $10 a week from my grocery budget. I put this money in an envelope and saved up to buy my lumber, bricks, seeds, and what soil I would need. So far, it's worked out pretty well. I have been able to keep within my new grocery budget amount, and I have had enough money to buy everything I've needed for the garden. And I would imagine that my gardening costs will go down in future years, since I won't have to buy new lumber, bricks, and soil each year.
Now, if you are just starting out, try to use what you have. I had some large pots already on hand that I used my first two years. I was able to grow tomatoes, peppers, basil, cilantro, and cucumbers in them. I have a friend that told me she planted tomatoes in a cardboard box one year. I have heard you can grow potatoes in a cardboard box, or even a large trash can. You just won't be able to use the cardboard boxes after that year.
Checkout my other posts on gardening:
My Green Thumb
Garden Update in September
Preparing My Garden for 2010