Yes, I’ve finally started my garden seeds this week, 2-3 weeks behind when I should have done it. I’m still kicking myself. Starting seeds is a great money saver and allows for much more variety. And I let life get in the way, while time marched on without me.
Of course my first excuse is that I’ve been busy. And it’s true. I’ve been staring wide-eyed at a new batch of chicks. I can’t get enough of them. And I’m going in about 10,000 directions at once on any given day, even when I’m not gawking at chicks.
One reason for my delay is that I’ve been trying to figure out a way to create more seed starting space. I live in an apartment and have limited space to start seeds. Last year I cleared out a shelf on my built-in bookcase and attached a light. It worked okay. But I need MORE starts than I can get from that one tiny space.
Then, one of my friends was getting rid of her daughter’s dresser. The drawers were all broken, but the outside frame was in perfect condition. As soon as I saw it, I knew I’d found my new seed starting operation. My goal was to keep the project at less than $25.
First I moved the dresser to my landing—it’s outside my front door, but still inside the building, and it’s my own personal space so it won’t get disturbed. I used some of the drawer pieces to create two shelves. I had one grow light, but picked up two more ($9.98 each). Unfortunately, the lights are about a half-inch too long, so I had to hang them parallel.
To hang the lights, I wrapped the ends with wire and zip ties (since they’re actually the kind of lights that you’re supposed to mount). I drilled two holes in the wall of the dresser, near the end of each light. I strung double thick jute twine through the light zip tie, and through the two holes on each light end, and tied them on the outside. This way, as the seeds grow, I can move the light fixtures up.
Then, I decided to make some sort of stand for a third light, to sit on top of the dresser. I made it out of ¾ inch PVC pipe and joints I already had in the garage. I did have to buy 4 extra T joints that I didn’t have, for .33 cents each, bringing my grand total for everything up to $21.28.
With a miter saw and 30 minutes, I built the light frame and hung the third light. Finally, after I planted my seeds, I threw a ‘gently used’ shower curtain over the top of it all to help hold the heat in. I was especially concerned about creating a warm enough environment because heat speeds up the germination process. Since the seeds aren’t in a part of my living space that I keep heated, and I’m already 2-3 weeks behind schedule, I thought the shower curtain might help the process some.
All in all, I ended up with space for 70 starts, almost tripling my space from last year. And I need all the plants I can get since I’m hoping to enlarge my growing space by about 25 x 22 this year. Not only that, but I stayed under my $25 budget since most of the stuff I used I had on hand.
I love the process of starting seeds. It’s almost like waiting for baby chicks to hatch (only not as cute!)…I love being part of the process of growing my own food by starting with a seed instead of a pre-started plant from a nursery. I love that I can buy a pack of seeds and start several plants for the same price or less as buying ONE PLANT already started.
If you haven’t started seeds yet, depending on where you live and what you want to start, you’ve probably got a little bit of time. But hurry! Most seeds should be started anywhere from 4-8 weeks before the last frost date (here in the Portland, Oregon area, that frost date is sometime the first week of April, but the FOR SURE date they give is April 26…so, I’m kinda squeaking by…I think I’ll be okay.)
Here’s my line up: Mortgage Lifter, San Marzano, Roma, Sun Gold and Sweet 100 Tomatoes, Lemon and Pickling Cucumbers, Sweet Peppers, Snake Gourds, and Small Pie Pumpkins. (Some of these things might be a bit iffy starting this late, but I’m trying anyway!)
And, of course, I’m attempting Luffa AGAIN. I planted two different varieties and hoping for a better outcome than last year.
All I have to say is, GROW SEEDS, GROW!! (please).
PS If you’ve started your own seeds, let us know what you’ve planted. It’s always interesting to hear what other people out there are doing.
Here’s more information on how to start your own seeds indoors, and why you’d even want to!