Sunday, April 17, 2011

Starting Seeds

Before transplanting... After transplanting...

Starting seeds at home is really easy. All you need is some potting soil, seeds, and containers to grow your seeds in and a clean spray bottle for water. A grow light is helpful. A table at a sunny window with a clip light and grow light bulb will work. I put my seed trays in my utility room in front of the window, once I added the clip light the seeds started popping right away!

Here's how you start, choose the seeds you'd like to start. Oh by the way if you are going on vacation between now and, well frankly when you garden you don't travel that much. LOL! Someone needs to be around to water! So, choose your seeds...I am starting some seeds this spring that are attractive to butterflies. I have dill, parsley, milkweed and Tithonia. I am also growing some edibles.

Choose your containers, you can strart seeds in recycled flower containers and trays or collect yougurt cups. Make sure to put a couple of holes in the bottom of the cups. You need to allow water to drain. Or you can even make your own containers out of newspaper. Basically you just fill your containers with soil, and read the seed package to seed how deep the seeds should be planted in the soil or should they be on top of the soil? After the seeds are planted I sprinkle the top of the potting soil with a little "seed starting mix". New seedlings are susseceptible to a fungus called "Damping Off", the fine ground peat moss in the seed starting mix keeps this in check. This is also where the spray bottle comes in. When starting seeds you don't pour water over the containers. After all if the seeds require being on the top of the soil to germinate, the drench of water will surely wash the seeds off the soil. Use the spray bottle to saturate the soil once or twice a day. I do not usually pour water over the top until the plant is in its permanant spot. You can water from underneath by pouring a little water into a tray with no holes and let the soil wick it up. You don't need to do that until the seeds are growing.

After the seeds have sprouted and have grown about a week the seedlings need to be transplanted. Mostly this is necessary if the seedlings are very crowded. So you can either transplant or "thin" the plants out by cutting off some of the seedlings to make room for a few strong plants. I will continue to use the spray bottle until the plants are bigger and very strong. Most plants that I start from seed are not put out in the garden or a planter until after Mother's Day to be sure it is warm enough for the new tender plants. So you see? It is pretty easy! Leave me message if you have any questions. Happy Planting!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Happy Spring!!!

Well hello everyone! Happy Spring! I am beginning to start my summer butterfly flower plans. I thought I would share those plans with you and inspire you to do the same. First I got my paperwork today and my yard sign from Monarch Watch. My garden at home now officially a Monarch Waystation. This means that I have full filled the requirements of to have a monarch friendly and sustainable garden. I am really excited about this. If you are interested got to So what am I doing for the summer? Well late in the season last year I learned that not only does milkweed have sap in it that has a chemical makeup that makes them taste bad to birds, but there is some evidence that some milkweed plants have more of this chemical than others. Not only that, the chemical is a protectant from diseases that monarch caterpillars are sussespable to. So those two species are swamp milkweed and tropical (or red) milkweed. Right now I am starting seeds for both milkweed. I will be filling my big ceramic pots around the house with tropical milkweed (*sniff* I will miss my geraniums) and petunias for hummingbirds. I am really excited about doing this. I have a really large blue ceramic pot that I moved to a more prominat position in the garden and that will the new focal point of the garden. The swamp milkweed I am growing will go in various open spots in the garden. The point of all of this milkweed is that I want to collect monarch eggs more close to home. I will also be growing a few pots of dill and parsley (which is a biennuial). I want to attract swallowtail butterflies too. So I really hope this works. Last summer I had about six secret spots that I visited every couple of days for eggs. I exhausted myself running around collecting eggs. So I have a different plan this summer. More soon!