Growing Starter Plants Indoors

February may have the fewest days, but it feels like the longest month to me. I’m ready to get back to soil tending, weed pulling, setting up new teepees and all the other joys of fieldwork. In reality, it’s a month with frequent snows, cold days, bitter winds – and the ground is still frozen! I started growing plants from seeds a few years ago, and I find that these tasks really help me beat the midwinter blues.

You may think it too early to start growing plants, and if your garden primarily consists of summer fruiting plants like tomatoes and peppers that is true. There are many plants to thrive in cool spring weather – greens especially – and last year was my first attempt with cabbages and cauliflower. I had moderate success – enough to know I could do better this year with a bit of work.

I normally use plastic trays to start plants, but I had a few paper egg cartons that were too damaged to use for egg sales and thought I’d try using them. There are an abundance of articles claiming they work great, and so far so good. I was most concerned that the paper would wick water from the soil but that has not been the case. I’ll be able to transplant the seedlings in their paper egg cups – the cup with disintegrate and feed the soil/plant.

In just 5 days under the plastic greenhouse cover, my growing tray was filled with seedlings. I have two types of cabbage, two types of cauliflower, spinach, sage, and celery going well thus far. The lavender has yet to sprout – the same thing happened last year – and I need to do more research to find some tips.

I also started a tray of grass. I feed kitchen scraps to my chickens and ducks, and they’ve been enjoying spinach, kale, and cabbage this winter. Fresh grass will be a flavorful addition to their diet, the dirt will provide grit so they can grind their food well, and it will be fun to play with also. This first bed is going well so I’ll likely start others. I need to get grass down in the reworked coop, and it may be easier to start grass and transplant it than it would be to set down seed and remember to water.

I plan to plant staggered successions of crops this year, so I’ll start a second round of these seed types next week. Planting successively means I’ll be harvesting these plants throughout the season instead of all in one fell swoop. This in turn means I’ll be able to supply clients with them for a longer period of time – and to eat them myself of course!

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