Friday, April 1, 2011

Plant Parenthood: Seed Starting Recipe

While growing food is not necessarily an art, there are few things more creative.  The simple fact that growing food involves nurturing life from humble beginnings - a tiny seed into a strong, fruitful plant - makes it an inherently creative endeavor.

This act of bringing something to life out of very little is a common thread throughout the topics I explore in this blog.  Knitting, repurposing clothing, recycled art, composting, gardening and baking are the same way: The raw ingredients you start with are not as useful on their own, but require creative input and a little bit of imagination to become something wonderful.  Growing food strikes a similar node in my creative impulse, and I think this is what I find exciting and empowering about making things.

Of course, in order to have a successful garden you can't start with nothing.  Luckily we've had a couple of growing seasons to get some practice with our garden.  Our neighbors started a little garden plot in the backyard of the house our apartment is in, and while they still lived here, we helped with weeding and planting and trying to keep the fat, greedy (but really f-ing cute) groundhogs who live next door out of the garden.

We had limited success last year since I was working on the farm and was home only on weekends through the growing season, and was usually too exhausted to do anything but eat and . . . sit.  But this year, we're making a more concerted effort to really see our backyard vegetable garden flourish.  The first step was to get an early start and the best way to do that? . . . start seeds indoors!

As part of Growing Hope's Seed Starting Squad, we have access to a grow light and a really simple yet creative light stand built by the organization's ingenious staff and volunteers.  With that, we're growing two trays of tomato seedlings for their urban garden as well as two trays of a mixture of everything we need for our first planting of the season.  Tomatoes are poisonous to cats, so of course we had to think of some way to keep our beasts away from the little monsters.  Using room dividers and a combination of cardboard and bricks to make walls, we created a "room" up against the furnace so that the little seedlings would stay toasty and free from the wrath of the cats.

Now, to the nitty gritty. . . Here's a run down of everything we've gotten to start the seeds.  This is by no means to only way to go about this, but here's what's *worked for us so far.

*I say worked without knowing how well the seedlings will survive the whole way through but as you can see they are making progress . . .

This photo of my tiny tomato forest is also one of my daily photos; check it out on my Flickr.
Seed Starting Recipe

Seed packets - $23 (we didn't use all the seeds in one round of planting, however) 
Fox Farm Seed Starter Grow Medium - $24
Two Jiffy Seed trays with greenhouse tops (72 plants each) - $10
A-frame light stand with two UV lights - $50 value (we only paid $5 to Growing Hope since we are borrowing the light stand and growing seedlings for them)
Watering can - $5
Old yogurt cup with holes poked in the bottom to simulate raining - $0

Total cost (if borrowing light stand) = $67

Stay posted for updates on these little guys!

1 comment:

  1. This is amazing!

    I envy your backyard AND your patience - I imagine growing your own veggies would be so rewarding! I have purchased some indoor planters for spices but am interested in finding an inverted planter that could work for some tomatoes... any advice?

    Can't wait to see how your garden turns out!