Thursday, April 29, 2010

It doesn't always pay to be cheap (unfortunately)

Last year was our first year starting plants indoors and didn't go so well.  We had read so many places that "all you need is a sunny window" so we thought it would be easy!  We bought a bunch of seeds and some cheap organic potting soil and stuck them in a sunny window.  They started to grow, got their second set of leaves...then they started getting really tall, leaves started dropping off, plants died, and I cried because we had spent a lot on heirloom seeds.  All that survived were 2 types of tomatoes.  Well this year I really wanted to do it right.  We bought some shelving and a heat mat and figured that would solve our problems.  Well all of them were doing ok until they got their second set of leaves.  They stopped growing and some leaves started falling off.  They weren't leggy at least so they lighting was helping but I had once again cheaped out and bought the yucky potting soil hoping that the lighting and the heat mat would solve the problem.  I went out and bought some of the really good organic potting soil.  I transplanted all but a couple into the good stuff.  I left a couple in the cheap stuff to see what the difference would be....

uhhh...can you guess which one is in the good stuff? *sigh*

Well we learn so much each year I don't thing we will ever "know everything".  I think that is a good least it will keep us busy!  Like I have already learned that starting lettuce indoors is not worth the trouble.  The stuff I direct seeded is bigger then the stuff I started inside a monthe earlier!  Now the Kale I started indoors has done really well and is about double the size of the stuff I direct seeded.  So is the Swiss Chard.  I have also learned that seed companies use pretty generic planting instructions for the most part.  The sunflower seed packet says to wait until after all danger of frost to plant.  Well I started some inside and have been taking them outside during the day.  I have left them out all night and it has frosted 3 times and they are fine...

They seem to be doing fine.

I looked up some info and found that you can plant them earlier.  As long as they have not flowered yet and do not have a blossom they can stand temperatures all the way to 26 degrees at night.  I will be starting them outside earlier next year for sure.  Well our first market is this Saturday so I better stop writting and get some stuff done!


  1. I started seeds indoors this year too. We use the heat mat just for germination and then let them grow in the cool basement (under a shop light). I've heard that cool temperatures encourage better root growth and slow the top growth which allows you to start your plants earlier and get them off to a better start when they're actually out in the garden.

    And for fertilizer, we use worm castings from our worm composting set up. It works brilliantly. Though I didn't do a side by side comparison. I totally will next time, though.

    Thanks for stopping by my site. Hope you like the sandwich if you try it yourself.

  2. I would love to do a vermiculite (sp?) compost eventually. I am going to try putting my fall seedlings in the basement. I think this will help them grow better!

  3. I think you mean vermicompost (worm composting). Vermiculite is like the white puffed stuff that makes potting mixes lighter. I did actually use some of that too in my mix.

    If you are interested, I've got a bunch of info about worm composting on my site.

  4. Yeah that is it! Hehe. Yes I would like to try that. We bought terra cycle which is vermicompost but it is very expensive...especially for how big our garden is!