I wholeheartedly confess…
I am a biophiliac, and yes that is a made-up word derived from biophilia.
The feeling of love for life is innate energy that motivates care.
It is this impulse to thrive that bewilders my curiosity about life.
Seeds are especially fascinating to me, in how they contain within their casing all the codex to germinate, mature, and propagate. It is my job to give them the support they need to fulfill their best potential.
It can be really exciting when you look through the seed catalog and see all those beautiful images of amazing edible plants. Here are some primary considerations before starting any seeds for your garden this year.
Think about what needs you are trying to meet with this garden. What are your potentials and limitations in working with the space you have available? It’s fun to experiment and try new species of plants, but ultimately, you’re learning about what works and what doesn’t for you and your unique spot.
This year, I’m changing things up a bit. I learned that we don’t need to grow as many tomatoes, but we could definitely use more potatoes and onions. Less winter squash and more fermentable vegetables like peas, green beans and beets. We are expanding the production of successive plantings of lettuce, more kale varieties, and chards, while downsizing the summer squash.
Create Flexible Routines
There are some easy ways to streamline your time spent doing the work, unless you’re the type of person who loves spending several hours a day hand watering. The main way is to set up an irrigation system with a timer that has the capability to turn water on and off to different locations at different times.
The next way to streamline gardening time is to make a schedule that fits into your lifestyle and stick to it with flexibility. There’s no getting around the need to be attentive every day to your garden, but you do have a say as to when the time is spent. Schedule weeding, pest control, and feeding days regularly. Plan ahead for longer workdays that involve recruiting some friends and family to help out. Get your kids, grandkids and the neighborhood kids involved!
Plant caretaking requires knowledge about specific plant species needs for proper germination, nutrition, light, water, and soil conditions.
- Timing: Know the number of days your plants need to grow to maturity, and plan accordingly.
- Soil Temperature: You may need to use a heat mat for some types of seeds such as tomatoes and peppers. Cool weather crops such as broccoli and cabbage can tolerate much colder temperatures for germination.
- Growing Medium: Clean fresh soil will give your plants better protection against pathogens and disease. Sterile (inert) soil without any added nutrients is fine to use but your plants will need to be fertilized after they grow true leaves. I like to make my own blend with compost, worm castings, peat moss, vermiculite and slow-release amendments.
- Humidity: Keep the surface of the soil moist but not over watered by using a spray bottle. Humidity domes are useful for certain types of plants during the germination phase.
- Light: You will need light with a light spectrum that is for plants. They need to be positioned about 6″ from the top of the planting trays. This will keep the seedlings from stretching for light and becoming “leggy”. Move the lights up as the plants grow.
- Timing: Knowing the soil temperatures in your garden and last frost dates for your growing zone will let you know when it’s safe to put plants outside. Many plants will need to be transplanted at least once before they can finally be planted into the garden.
- Pots: Transplant seedlings into the next stepped-up size pot. I like to use deep pots such as 6″ X 4″, it gives them more room for root systems to grow. If I need to transplant again, I could go for a 1/2 gallon up to a 1 gallon, depending on the type of plant and how much longer it will be hanging out in that container. Transplant before roots wind around the pot (root-bound).
- Sunlight: Young plants need to be carefully acclimated to full sunlight exposure. When you first bring them outside, place them in a spot where it is partially shaded, such as under a tree. Gradually give them more sunlight over a few days to a week. You’ll notice that they will “harden off” and become sturdier when they are ready to plant in the garden with full sun exposure.
- Sprays: Before exposing your young plants to the elements outside, spray them with organic pesticides such as spinosad and Monteray BT. This will help them to defend against pests that are so prevalent in the spring and help them to grow stronger during the transplanting phase.
- Moon Phase: Do all of your transplanting when the moon is in its waning phase of decreasing light. This is when gravitational pull of the earth is strongest and will assist the root system to diminish any transplant shock.
This is obviously not everything you need to know to be successful with gardening, but it's nice to read simple straightforward tips that don't require large quantities of your precious time. Of course, I recommend devouring all the knowledge you can acquire when it comes to learning new skills. Gardening is one of those crafts that are mastered by necessity. Be diligent with your efforts, there are no mistakes, only learning.
3 Comments Add yours
Love your made up word biophiliac describes me as well! I too came to the realization my obsession with growing tomato plants is a bit over the top and will tone that down in my gardening season this year. What is your favorite item to grow? I’ve been browsing all the seed catalogues dreaming up my gardens it’s so easy to get carried away and end up with more seeds than one could possibly plant in a season. Happy Gardening! 🌱
I have a bit of a tomato plant obsession too! Peas, green beans, cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower are amazingly well preserved as a ferment, so I’ll be going big on those crops this year. Just started my first round of seeds a few days ago! I also am going to plant more herbs for cooking, teas, and medicinals. What’s new in your garden this year?
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I think it’s because they are so easy to grow and there are so many varieties! Oh yum you will have to blog about how you ferment some of those I’ve never done that with cabbage, broccoli, or cauliflower! I started a few rounds of seeds last month that I’ve been babying each day bringing out to the greenhouse for sunshine. Love all you have planned. Mine sounds similar to you! I’ve been on a big herb kick this last year. Have you grown marjoram? It’s my favorite herb growing right now and I’ve gone over the top with seedlings. My family loves winter squash so I got some new varieties to try they store so long I’m a fan of the Hubbard squashes. I always over plant and learn what does well here and what fails miserably. What zone do you garden in?