The gardening process

Ok, so in case it wasn’t obvious previous posts, my current employer is a certain big box store, the one whose employees wear orange aprons.  I’d worked for them previously, several years ago, working at the service desk.  So I had some idea what I was getting into.  This time around I’m working in the garden/seasonal department.  I have to say, if you’re looking for a job that keeps you moving, and periodically changes everything on you (not QUITE literally), then the garden/seasonal department of such a store is the place for you.

Anyway.  When I started there last spring it was late enough in the season that I’d missed almost all of the seed starting “stuff”.  It was still on the shelves, but the only folks who were buying were the folks buying for next season.

This year of course I’m right in the middle of it.  And I’m realizing just how far from “normal” my own personal seed starting process is.

I gave up on using pretty much anything “seed starter” labeled at all.  I don’t use peat pots, or even the little peat expandable bases any more.  I don’t even use a seed starting dirt mix.  Instead I bought a BUNCH of 3.25″ square plastic pots in bulk (the filled pots are placed into a larger tray so I can keep the bases of the pots wet), and I use standard potting soil in them to start the seeds in.  EVERYONE says this is a big no-no.  That you need either a seed starter mix, or those peat things.  And then transplant up when the plants get big enough.  Honestly, my germination rate is just fine this way, and if anything its better than when I used to use such seed starter stuff.

I tend to start seeds early by the standards of the local gardening community and when my average last frost is.  SO MUCH data says that if you let many garden seedlings get to big before you transplant them out that they’ll not handle the transplan well.  But I’ve found the exact opposite.  By transplanting out big seedlings who are close to being too big for their pots I find they take off quite happily as soon as they’re transplanted.  I almost never lose a seedling on transplant, basically the only time I do is when the seedling was looking sickly due to some other issue.

Course, I use a greenhouse as soon as the seedlings are big enough to handle some temperature fluctuations.  So that helps, the seedlings don’t get nearly as leggy as they would if I tried to keep them under lights.  And I have the black tires as my garden beds, so the dirt in the beds is warmer than the ground, so I can plant out a bit sooner than most folks.  If I can ever get a proper, good sized, greenhouse built I’ll probably start them even sooner, with space to put them into bigger pots if needed, where plant height is less of an issue than it is with my current setup (plants will scorch their tops on the top of the greenhouse with my current setup, if I let them get too tall.