Time for Seedlings

Several years ago I started growing my own herbs.  I was spending a ton of money each week at the grocery store to purchase fresh herbs and usually they would go bad before I could use them.  I started with a 12 inch tall rosemary plant.  I was in a bread class at culinary school at the time and loved the rosemary foccacia bread – I would make it daily for my kids.  Then I added a bay laurel tree which was about 9 inches and expanded to thyme, basil (several varieties), tarragon, sage, etc.  I have since refined what herbs I grow; rosemary is still there as well as bay, thyme, and basil but I found that I use very little tarragon and sage so I plant them every other year or so.

Bay Trees                                  Rosemary Bush

Bay Laurel with volunteer Geraniums and Basil                   Rosemary (about 4.5 ft tall)

Also, I have added cilantro.  Love both the leaves and the seeds of that one!  In my quest to get as much out of my garden as possible, I learned that I have to start the seeds well before our growing season begins.  We have been known to have snow in June.  Yes, June!  We could have an inch of snow on the ground on Tuesday then it be 80 degrees on Wednesday.  Such is life in Colorado.  I start my seeds fairly early – mid-February, so the plants are fairly large when I am able to move them outside.   We have a very small yard so I keep everything in pots.  This makes it easier to harden off the plants as they transition to the outdoors.  It also makes it easier to move things around or back inside if we have a few nights of cooler weather as well as keeping produce that isn’t ready to pick when the end of the season rolls around.

Last year I tried my hand at heirloom tomatoes and loved the results.  I purchase one of those “topsy-turvy tomato trees”, the free-standing kind, and loved it so much that I purchase two more for this season.  The tomatoes were so delicious and plentiful I didn’t purchase any at the grocery store until November.  This year I have added to the varieties of heirlooms I am growing and have decided to add sweet peppers as well.  To this mix are the usual varieties of flowers.

My husband set up his (our) “grow room” in the basement to slow the growth rate slightly.  We did have to add heat mats so the little seeds didn’t freeze and grow lamps for additional “sunlight”.  He made a diagram of which seeds were planted in each tray.   As of this post, the seedlings have progressed in height to the point that we have removed the “self-watering” covers but have not raised the lamps yet.  The heat mats are on constantly but the lights are on a timer and shut off after about 10 hours.

seedling diagram              Seedling tray 2

Diagram of Seedlings                                                                 Seedlings under Grow Lamps

seedling tray 1           tomatoe tray

Close Up of  Thyme, Basil, and sweet peppers.        And here are the Heirloom Tomatoes.

The flower seeds were harvested from my front flower bed last fall but the heirloom seeds were purchased from a seed catalog called “Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds”.  You can view their selections on-line at www.rareseeds.com  I purchased seeds from Baker Creek last year and I was very happy with the rate of production.

I am also going to try my hand at a variety of leaf lettuces and arugula but since they have a very short time between planting and picking, I decided to wait a bit.  I’ll let you know what I find out.

This entire “experiment” is in an effort to either confirm that I don’t need a large yard in order to grow my own vegetables or confirm that I need to sell the house and move to acreage.  I hope it is the former and not the later!!




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