if i can give any advice about starting an edible garden it’s to grow your own plants from seed, the cheapest way to get amazing variety and a full garden. it’s so satisfying to spend literally cents on a plant and have enough for filling gaps so there is always something good to eat. truth be told, i have no space whatsoever indoors for starting seed. i don’t have a grow light system or even a sunny window. what i do have is a cold frame, built from an old pallet and covered with salvaged windows. this is my plant nursery, the glass panes acting as a greenhouse for germinating, and protecting the seedlings from wind and cold.
i started some seeds about three weeks ago…lettuces, sunflowers, cosmos, calendula, cornichon cucumbers, nasturtiums, and a few others, and kept them indoors for a few days until it was warm enough to put them out into the cold frame for a few hours a day. i slowly increased the time in the frame until they were out all day and night. if the nights got below 10c, i brought the trays in.
they are now ready for transplanting to bigger pots. i’ve checked the weather and we’re not expecting cold night or frost for the next couple of weeks, so a few bypassed the transplanting and went right into the ground. some seeds can be sown directly into the garden, without starting in trays first, but i have to say, having this holding area and a bunch of seedlings ready to fill gaps in the garden works so well. they’re also handy when i get invited anywhere and can pot-up some different lettuces or annual flowers for my hosts. i also like having each cell or pot provide a sneak preview of what has germinated properly.
pricking out individual seedlings takes a bit of time, but there’s something peaceful about caring for each little seedling and imagining what it will be. don’t do it when you’re rushed, enjoy the moment.
wait until you see the first set of true leaves start to emerge, that is, the second set of leaves. pop out your cell plug and gently tease the roots free of the soil. I usually sow 2-4 seeds per cell, so the roots are intertwined a little. fill your new pots or cells about halfway with soil. use a pencil or the end of the spoon to make a hole, and gently lay in your baby plant. sprinkle on more soil and use your fingers to gently tamp around the seedling until it stands up straight. when they’re all in, give a gentle water, and back into your cold frame or sunny window.
i’ve been saving toilet rolls for weeks. cut in half, they make great transplanting cups, and can go right into the ground to decompose.