Our 2021 Spring Garden

Planting some onion and strawberry seeds; what we're doing differently this year for our seedlings!

Picture of seedling tray, plastic container, measuring cups, and scissors on top of a beach towel that is laid out on a chest style freezer
Our indoor seedlings work space. A beach towel on top of the chest style freezer.

My daughter and I did a thing last week!

We started some of our garden seedlings! Yay! Notice our workspace in the picture above, lol. It's on top of the chest freezer with a beach towel covering it to protect the freezer and make clean up easier. When you don't have a lot of space, you improvise 🙂.

Before I get to the fun part of what we planted I want to touch on a few other things that factored in to getting to this point. First of all, we live in planting zone 5a. Our last frost date this year is projected to be May 4. So, some of you who live in warmer zones most likely have already started your indoor seedlings. Nonetheless, I wanted to take you along with us on our journey, talking about how we're doing things and what we learned from last year's garden.

This is only the second year for a garden for my daughter and I. Years and years (eons) ago, when my children were all small we lived on a farm and I had a very nice, large (huge) garden. However, as I said, that was years ago. Last year when my daughter and I started our garden, it was the first time I grew anything since then. So, I am learning how to do things all over again. I wanted to document our gardening journey and had a thought that blogging it would be an awesome way to do just that! And here we are. I thought about video taping our progress and sharing it on my YouTube channel, but there isn't enough room in our work space to do that. Maybe once we get all the seedlings started we can do some video updates. That's just a thought at this point, though.

Planting onion and strawberry seeds

Onion seeds and strawberry seeds planted in our seed starting "system".

So, last week, on March 4, my daughter and I got some strawberry and onion seedlings started for our spring garden. I know, an unlikely combination! LOL. But, it's just a start and those were the two that needed to be started first. Those two seeds take a longer time to get to the transplanting stage than the others we will be starting. We can always split them up later if we need to.

We started by mixing our seed starting soil mix and some water. Something I wasn't aware of needing to do last year for our seeds. All those years ago when I had that big ole' garden, I purchased all of my starter plants. However, last year as a result of the pandemic starter plants were few and far between. So, seed starting is new to me. Anyway, last year I didn't know to wet down the soil before using it. I didn't know that by wetting the soil, the seeds have a better chance at getting started, and they won't sink further down into the soil, which can inhibit their germination rate. You don't want to saturate the soil, but just get it to a clumping point, but you don't want water dripping when you squeeze the clump of soil.

I also didn't know that we needed to use a special soil mix for seedlings. So, last year we just used a regular potting mix; the same type I used to use for potting flowers and indoor plants. Last year our seedlings did not do very well at all because of my lack of knowledge. That's why I was much more diligent in my research this year! However, even though we did not have great success with our seedlings last year, we did have good success with the garden overall.

Okay, confession time. Because we didn't have a good success rate for our seedlings last year, this year I bought some special garden starter trays and pots, and some LED grow lights. Last year we used a 72 seed pod kit and some red solo cups. I had them sitting in a south facing window (actually a sliding glass patio door). And, two things happened. One, the new plants got "leggy" because they weren't getting enough light. Two, the plants needed to be transplanted from the seed pods when they got bigger; I didn't realize that. Thus, the feeling for the need for new seedling equipment.

Our new seeding system consists of one seed tray without holes on the bottom; one seed tray with holes inside the bottom tray; and 3.5 inch plant pots, with holes, inside the top tray. We will be bottom watering our seedlings, once they germinate, as I've read that is the best way to keep from over saturating them with water and having them root rot. When we started the seedlings I hadn't bought the clear plastic domes for the seed trays because I'd seen (via YouTube) some using saran wrap and I figured I could use that. Boy, was I wrong! If you've ever used saran wrap you can imagine the fun I had trying to get those seed trays wrapped, lol. The day following our seed planting, I was online ordering those see through domes!

Seedling tray wrapped with saran wrap
The onion and strawberry seedlings all wrapped up in saran wrap.

Before wrestling with the saran wrap, I did use a spray bottle and sprayed the planted seeds with water. I read that you don't want to "pour" water into the pot because the water can wash the seeds deeper into the soil.

We didn't hook up the grow lights for the seedlings just yet as I learned that they don't need them until the seeds start to germinate. So, they've been set aside for now, and I can't wait to hook them up and watch the seedlings grow!

Oh! I almost forgot! We are starting quite a few different varieties of seeds indoors this year than we did last year. Onions and strawberries being the first of those. We'll also be planting a couple of different types of lettuce, spinach, and kale; which will be started indoors. Last year we started bell peppers, and different varieties of tomatoes indoors and we will be doing so again this year. Not to mention several different herbs! And, those are just the seeds we'll be starting indoors! We'll also be planting some sweet corn, cucumbers, green beans, and carrots directly in the ground! I actually haven't decided yet if we're going to be starting the cucumbers indoors first or plant them directly in the ground. I've heard either way works. In my former gardening days I always started those outdoors in the ground. But, starting them indoors does give them a head start and we could start harvesting sooner. So, we'll see.

Well, that's all for today. Next up we will be planting some bell pepper, tomato, and cherry tomato seeds. Along with an update on the onion and strawberry seeds.

Until next time...happy prepping, and God bless!