We’re in the depths of winter now, and while this is happening outside…
… this is happening inside:
Just when it looks like all signs of life are officially kaput, we see the very first stage of rebirth in the seeds we’re sprouting indoors. Indoor sowing is the only thing we can be doing for the garden this time of year, so that’s what we’re doing. Here’s how:
Start with some simple containers — I’m using a combination of recycled paper cups and plastic grids:
Fill the containers with a good seed starter (I use Espoma products — they’ve proven effective for me year after year, and they’re great for organic gardening).
And add your seeds. This year I’ve purchased my seeds from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. They’re a family farm based just a couple hours south in Central Virginia, so they know what grows well in our soil & climate. And their seeds are organic, which is important to me.
I went a little crazy on the seed-buying this year… it’s just so hard to resist when you read the enticing descriptions of all the varieties!
I keep a notebook to record what I’m planting and when, and I’ll track when each seed sprouts (and when they don’t). Keeping a garden journal is a great way to learn from successes, and hopefully not repeat failures.
This is a great activity for kids to help with — they can get their hands dirty, and there’s something about the tiny seeds that kids really seem to love.
The seeds need good conditions to sprout — lots of moisture and light. If you’ve got a windowsill with lots of direct sunlight, that can work, though a growlight is even better. We don’t get enough direct sun in the winter, so I’m supplementing with this light:
And I’m following a planting schedule, which enables me to do succession planting so I can get the most from my garden throughout the season. I really like Mother Earth News’ garden planning tool — it creates a planting schedule based on your USDA plant hardiness zone. (For those of us growing in Northern Virginia, we’re in Zone 7a/7b.)
My plant list for the upcoming season, including sowing & harvesting dates.
So that’s it for our seed starts. We’ll watch them grow indoors for a few weeks, and once the weather turns a bit warmer, we’ll start moving them out into the garden. That day can’t come soon enough!
(Until then, here’s a sneak peek of our little seedlings in a few weeks…)