I’ll admit it: I got garden on the brain. Let’s get this growing season started.
I got the garden planned. Everything is neatly laid out in my newly-made garden journal. Raised beds in the garden proper are the primary focus, as a solution to the overly-rocky soil and stunted carrots of last year. Special consideration is being given to improving soil quality and companion planting. There will also be a diverse container garden at the house for fresh-picking convenience and for a bit of experimentation. All of this diagrammed and charted appropriately.
I got the starter pots. Hand-rolled from newspaper destined for the recycling bin. Once planted, they will reside on a “shelving system” that I made specifically for my home: fits securely against the sliding glass doors for maximum light, allows for air circulation and is cat-resistant.
I got seeds. I have plenty of well-stored packets left over from last year, never opened. However, I also ordered some seeds this year after pouring over my High Mowing catalog for weeks. I also have the seeds I’ve collected from acorn and butternut squash; growing these will be a real experiment. Overall, same players as last year: basil, beans, carrots, chards, lettuce (various), radishes, tomatoes, zucchini. New draftees: eggplant, peppers, sorrel and the winter squash.
I got soil. A big, fat bag of specialty mixed organic potting soil from the local organic greenhouse, Lighthouse Gardens.
Given the level and quality of my preparations so far, a friend politely suggested I read The $64 Tomato by William Alexander.
I kindly reminded her that a few hand-rolled pots and a single bag of organic potting soil does not an existential gardening crisis make.
And all of these items are, in fact, necessary.
However, there’s one last thing that I’m going to need to get my garden started…
Soil temperature is critical to successful germination and health of seeds.
Heating exclusively with wood, keeping the house at a certain temp — say, the minimum temp required for seeds to germinate properly — means fire.
When I am out for the day, it’s not practical or safe to keep a strong fire going in the stove. So there has been a lot of experimentation in these days leading up to starting the seeds.
How hot can I get the stove going at night? How much will my house cool by morning without additional fuel? How hot can I get the stove in the morning in the short time between wake-up and leave? How much will things cool by the time I get home?
All of this while being economical with the wood. I’m getting down to the last of the stuff that is cut and dried for this season. It won’t help me or the seeds if I run out before Spring is genuinely here.
Getting the burn time and ambient temp right isn’t rocket science. But it seems to me that getting it down to a science is a smart idea. It’s not enough to hit the ideal temp once or twice; I need reliable and consistent temps for the duration of the seed starting process.
So far I’ve been able to keep the house at a minimum temp of 60 deg F through the day and night, in cycles and without the stove being constantly fed.
This is not the sweet spot of 75 deg F for tomato, pepper and eggplant seeds, but it’s in the acceptable range. I’ll take it.
But the seeds will be the ultimate judge of my efforts.
Cultivatorscorner.com (2010, March 9). When to Start Vegetable Seeds. Retrieved from http://cultivatorscorner.com/when-to-start-vegetable-seeds
High Mowing Organic Seeds, http://www.highmowingseeds.com/
Lighthouse Gardens, http://www.lighthouse-gardens.com/Lighthouse_Gardens/Home.html