Because we can grow cool season crops like cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli really well here in the Pacific Northwest (especially if we get started early before the temperatures get too warm), we like to take advantage and grow a plethora of early season veggies. Since our goal is to grow all our own vegetables from seed this year (and, hopefully, not have to buy any starts!), we’re getting going with planting seeds for seedlings to plant out in late February/early March. Growing our own seeds means we can grow all sorts of varieties and we don’t have to settle for whatever the nurseries choose to provide.
We’ve opted to use Jiffy peat pellets for seed starting. They are purchased in these little dehydrated mesh-wrapped soil discs. They are relatively inexpensive and do not take up a lot of storage room. The netting is root-permeable and the entire “pot” can be planted in the ground so there won’t be any waste. We add water and the pellets expand into little “pots.”
Teri worked at a wholesale plant nursery for several years and her “rule” is to plant no more (and no less) than 2-3 seeds per starter pot. Since every seed won’t necessarily germinate and we will be thinning out any spindly or weak seedlings, this should leave one strong plant per pot. I confess, this planting of tiny, round cabbage and broccoli seeds is a bit tedious and does require the wearing of the reading glasses!
We use untreated wooden tags written with permanent ink to mark the variety and type of seed, as well as the date planted. If you’re wondering what the little “X2” is on some of the tags, that is our way of knowing that we have two rows of peat pots planted–this way, we don’t have to use up two tags! The wooden markers work quite well for planting too–we use the little pointy tips to help push and cover the seeds. These markers will go along with the seedlings when they are planted out into the garden so we can keep track throughout the growing season.
Now the seeded pots are put under the warm grow light and we wait for seeds to sprout! We won’t be starting the warmer season vegetables like tomatoes, peppers and eggplant for several weeks and since our growing station is rather small, this works well. We can start our seedlings in stages and by the time these are moved out to the cold frames, we’ll have room to start more seeds.