While most people are looking forward to Superbowl parties, for me this brings the start of gardening season. As soon as my plants start to die in the fall, I begin the process of planning for the next season. By the time most people have just started receiving their garden catalogs and ordering seeds, I’ve drawn out my garden plan foot-by-foot, taken seed inventory, ordered any new seeds I needed and tested the patience of my husband who kindly reminds me there are still months left till “garden season” actually begins. I can’t help it, I absolutely love gardening and the easiest way for me to pass the cold, snowy winters we get is looking forward to all that new growth and sunshine. I’ve painstakingly counted down the days to February 1st, just as I’ll continue to countdown to March and May. For Connecticut, our average last frost date is Memorial Day, which this year is Monday, May 26th. I’ve already planned my vacation around that week – prepping, tilling, planting and hovering over my baby plants the first week is a must. In the past years, I have always started my seeds around March 1st, which generally works out pretty well. But I do see a few crops, especially my tomatoes, that seem to truly struggle along those first weeks. While Memorial Day promises no more frost, it doesn’t mean we’re breaking out the shorts yet either.
So to give my tomatoes and a few other crops that have longer maturity / germination rates the extra time they need, I am starting those seeds February 1st. With the addition of our fodder system this year, we had to come up with a way to keep the germinator, fodder system and greenhouse in our little kitchen without taking up anymore space. My husband went out and bought a simple metal rack which houses the fodder system, and both the germinator the warming mat fit perfectly on top.
Today I filled some of the sections up with dirt. There may be more than I need for now, but I’d rather have them warm and ready to go than to wait. I keep a little bucket of dirt from my garden in the house. I am lucky enough to have pretty good soil as it is, and I compost diligently throughout the year. One of the little tricks I have learned over the years is not to fill the outer rows if you can avoid it. Once the plants reach that awkward tall-but-not-ready-for-the-germinator stage it makes putting the lid back on difficult. Inevitably plants gets caught and smushed. Hopefully by offsetting my plantings this year, I can avoid using them at all.
In another week or two, I will move the germinator and fodder system over to the right, and bring up our greenhouse to put in the window. I am so excited to start the seeds and get the season going. I’ll still wait until March to start the usual crops – especially items like squash that grow rapidly; and naturally I have the plants that get direct seeded Memorial Day.
Still, even starting these few little seeds makes the “Official Planting Day” seem a lot closer than 117 days … then again, who’s counting? 😉