Saturday, February 26, 2011

Garden 2011 has officially begun!

Square foot gardening definitely has advantages when it comes to early spring planting.  Raised beds warm up quicker and with Mel's Mix (1/3 vermiculite, 1/3 peat and 1/3 compost), the mix stays light and fluffy and is never soggy.  I use string to make my grids, but they have to be redone each year.  Some people use wood lathe, lattice or other materials, but I prefer the string because when pulling up old plants, they have such a huge root ball, it seems it would be hard to pull them up with the lathe strips in place.  It only takes about 5-10 minutes to do a bed.  I have small nails driven in the top of the boards at 1" intervals on both sides and both ends.  I tie the string at one end, stretch to opposite side, wrap 4-5 turns (no need to tie the string except first and last nails), go to the next nail & wrap, go across the box & wrap, until you are all finished.  The string also keeps the cat out of the box. 

This week I have gotten a lot of seeds started.  I usually use the 72 cell mini greenhouse packs from Lowe's made by Ferry Morse, Ferry Morse Seed Co.    I usually get 2-3 years out of the inserts, but I needed new ones.  This year I couldn't find them, so I Googled greenhouse supplies & found a great site, Greenhouse Mega Store.  They sell professional greenhouse supplies but also offer small order quantities.  I still have several of the base trays, but needed new inserts.  I was able to get a carton of 100 inserts (48 cells each insert)  for $59.00.  They have umpteen configurations for the trays.  I ordered the 48 cell packs so I would have larger cells & better root development.  They had super fast shipping too. 

I used the end of one of my boxes to make a coldframe for the seeds I have already started.  Night temps have been in the 40's & daytime temps have been in the 60's & 70's.  If there is a chance of frost, I'll bring the trays in overnight, but they will be fine during the day.  I raked the soil back so the trays would be lower than the surrounding soil level, then covered that part of the bed with an old white shower curtain.  I pulled the corner back to check & it lets plenty of brightness in for germination & was cozy warm.  When they start growing I will probably put a painter's plastic drop cloth over the bed.  I have plenty of ventilation so they won't cook.

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