Sunday, March 15, 2009

Gardening Within the Confines of the Law

When we moved into our house, there was a rather suspicious-looking florescent light rigged up on one of the walls in the basement. We made a few jokes about the former owners "growing things" down there, and then I promptly forgot about the existence of that light. Steven set up his guitar stuff in the basement, and (since its chilly down there), I haven't been down there for quite a while.

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Last weekend, I bought some seed starting peat moss and planted seeds for spinach, brussles sprouts, carrots and two varieties of mesclun lettuce. And this weekend, the seeds sprouted. I read the directions on my seed-starting mix, and it says to "place under lights or in a sunny window. I tried to prop the seeds up in a sunny window, but our sunniest spots are directly behind the house, and there aren't any windows facing that direction with a good solid ledge to hold the seedlings.

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Which brought me to my lightbulb-over-the-head moment, when I realized that the light in the basement could be put to good use after all. (Go ahead, get all your pot jokes out of the way now.... I know what it looks like but its spinach, people. Spinach!)

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The last day of frost here in my neck of the woods is May 3, according to my obsessive researching and Google-fu. Most of my seed packets say "plant indoors 6-8 weeks before last frost date."

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And that just so happens to be (somewhere around) this weekend. (Right? I never trust my own math...)

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After I realized that my lighting system could really work wonders for seed starting, I sort of went crazy and started a few seeds of everything. I think the sprouts here are the spinach and mesclun lettuce (the red ones are definitely the mesclun lettuce, and the green ones look rather spinach-y to me, don't you think?). This weekend, I also planted seeds for:

Brandywine Pink heirloom tomato
Roma (paste) tomato
Garlic chives
Italian Oregano
Sweet Basil
Thyme
Parsley
Cilantro/Coriander

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I'm planning to keep the herbs in a container on the porch, and the tomatoes will go into the actual garden (along with the spinach, carrots, brussles sprouts, lettuce, and oh so much more.)

I know I'm being overly ambitious and setting myself up for a complete disaster. But I can't help it. Its so exciting to think I could grow a whole garden full of veggies in a mere 3-4 months from now! I also bought seeds for okra and green beans, but the seed packets say to plant them right in the ground after danger of frost has passed. So I'm waiting till May for those. (Did I mention this is just the plan for the spring garden? I haven't even considered what I might grow when full-on summer gets here.... Peppers, pole beans, corn, watermelon, more tomatoes? The possibilities are endless...)

Cross your fingers, everybody!

2 comments:

Jaimy and Bret said...

I have my fingers crossed, but admittedly because I am hoping for a Steele-grown Watermelon or other garden overflow ;).

Anonymous said...

Ok Heather - Jenny's friend Knelly here (the anonymous person who gave you the craigslist table advice)
I LOVE your grow light - covet it, maybe. BUT, to optimize your successrate & resources, I would start your peppers & tomato plants now, and direct-sow everything else. The carrots, lettuce, sprouts, spinach, everything else, if you sow it right when the ground warms up (last part of April, first part of May) will do GREAT and the plants won't get "leggy". You also won't have to harden them off, which means adapt them slowly to outdoor conditions. The tomato plants will get big enough between now and mid-may to be able to go directly out there. Then, start saving detergent jugs & milk jugs to cut out the tops to put around your plants to protect them when you set them out in the garden from wind, rabbits and cutworms. Even if you direct sow, you will be able to grow an early and late crop of carrots, lettuce, spinach, radishes and the like. My first veg. garden on my own was last year - SO excited to get going again. Learned everything I know from my grandma and growing up on a farm:) Congrats on being an auntie again. He is SOOOO cute. Can't wait to meet you by the way - Jen told me you guys are coming?
Take care!
What I would do with the stuff that you have started, is find a warm natural sunlit window in the upstairs of your house and pot them in window box-style containers, then you can probably harvest it indoors even?
You can also start broccoli & cabbage plants.