Photo/Illustration: Greg Holdsworth (All photos)
A little bit of everything, started indoors but growing in the greenhouse.
Lettuce get ready to start some seeds! OK, I know that was cheezy.
Good-looking tomato and pepper plants, circa 2012.
Young pepper seedlings, almost ready for the outdoors.
As the year is winding down, it’s time to prepare for next year’s seed starting projects. The following are some general thoughts to get you ready.
Plan it, and Lay it Out
Yep, it’s time to ask that seemingly-stupid, yet important question, “what do I want to grow next year?” This will be the foundation for your garden plan next year. There are several ways to plan your garden, from the down-and-dirty to the digital. Take advantage of this down time before the real planting deadlines loom.
Bookmark Those Sites
If you haven’t already, visit the websites of several seed companies and order their print catalog. Most of them will send you one free of charge. I’ve noticed in both printed catalogs and websites that they have become more than just seed sources. They have become great sources for planting, variety and growing information.
Review Those Catalogs
Whether you’re an experienced gardener or not, the thrill of sitting down in your most comfortable chair, with your favorite beverage, and a pile of new seed catalogs is a great wintertime tradition. I typically do this during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, since we are able to start spring seeds here as early as late December.
Take Inventory of Your Current Collection
If you are new to starting your own seeds, you won’t have an inventory yet (don’t worry, that will change in no time). Being organized here is a definite plus. You can use just about anything to hold and organize your seed packet collection. Shoe boxes, plastic food containers and wooden trays come to mind. You can also get quite creative (I’m currently using a couple of shoebox-shaped cigar boxes, for example).
If you already have some seed packets, write down what you already have, and how much. Or should I say “enter”. Today’s modern technology allows you to put this info into your smartphone, tablet or other digital device. Equipped with my phone and the notes app inside it, I recently bought some seeds at my local nursery, without wondering if I left one out or bought some I already had.
Take Advantage of Seed-Swaps
If you don’t belong to a gardening group or volunteer for a local community garden, here’s one of the small perks of doing so-exchanging seeds with other gardeners. There are opportunities here to share some of the seeds you’ve already bought, get new seeds for free, as well as donate the packets you don’t need anymore.
Ahhh, the fun part. Now that you know what you’re going to plant, it’s time to stock up. Whether you purchase your seeds online, in a local store, or otherwise, having your seeds ahead of time will save you from missing your planting schedules. I made it a point this year to really try to have all (or almost all) of the seeds I will need for the entire year already at hand.
Set Up Your Dates and Reminders
Equally as important as already having your seeds is knowing when to plant them, and having a system in place to remind you. Whether you go “old school” with a paper calendar, or “new school” (is that a phrase?) with an electronic calendar, it’s nice to be reminded of critical planting dates. Once you’ve done your research and recorded the dates, next year this task will be easier, as you can simply refer back to last year’s info.
Prepare Your Seed Starting Tools
After all that is finished, it’s time to get your tools ready. Need a new watering can or hand trowel? It IS on your wish list right? You’ll need a timer for your indoor grow lights, and these can be gotten fairly inexpensively now that the holiday supplies are in the stores. If you need to order anything online, now’s the time to get it, as shipping times tend to be longer.
Good luck, and happy seed starting!
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