Seed Starting? Now!?

We’ve rounded the corner into the New Year, we’ve passed the Winter Solstice (the days are getting longer!), and folks, it’s time to start thinking about spring (legitimately).  If you grow in high tunnels, cold frames, or a greenhouse (and you should), the spring planting season is just around the corner.

Your soil should have been amended and put to bed in the fall, so you should not have amending to do this coming spring.  Getting ready now means starting seed, checking the integrity of your season extending gear (high tunnels, cold frames, and greenhouses), and keeping your soil well watered.  Here at the top 10 things to get done this month:

  1. Keep your garden soil watered – do not let it dry out
  2. Set up your indoor seed starting station
  3. Order replacement seeds for the coming season
  4. Clean seed starting flats, misting water bottles, and heating mats
  5. Check your high tunnels, cold frames, or greenhouse for air leaks
  6. Check your high tunnels, cold frames, or greenhouse for pests (they like to winter over in such places)
  7. Conduct germination tests on old seed
  8. Create a seed starting list – know how many plants, of what variety, and when during the season you will need the starts (if you’re not sure how many plants will fit in your growing space, check out my review of this tool, developed by Mother Earth News.  It’s what I use, and it works great)
  9. Replace grow lights if necessary
  10. Check into soil blocks for seed starting, if you don’t already use them

As always, keep one eye on the bee hive (watch for starvation as we progress into spring), take stock of your backyard chickens and consider if you plan to order replacement chicks (more on this later), and if you keep meat rabbits start scheduling your late winter/early spring breeding schedule.

January is when the gardening cycle kicks off again, if you’re planting flats of starts in February.  February flats are ready for transplant by mid-March to early April, and if you’re using season extending gear that is perfect timing.  If you plant in exposed raised beds, hold off a little longer on your starts, as cool season crops go in the ground around mid-April.  Check-out this planting timeline from Pikes Peak Urban Gardens for more details.

So yes, spring is officially around the corner, and yes, we have an awful lot of winter left to go (the conundrum of Colorado weather).  Get your seed starting gear ready to go now, start your seed flats early next month, and you’ll be well on your way to a great spring garden full of your favorite lettuces, kales, and cool season herbs.

2 Responses to Sustainability Experts Sound Off

  1. Tascha October 31, 2012 at 6:56 pm #

    Christine – what a great question and diverse answers. I’d like to think that the shift in demand is an indicator, but as you know, most of the demand is still through our traditional food sources (big chain grocery with an organics line, fast food with healthier choices). Jury is still out on whether they are truly sourcing from sustainable ag. And as I look around Colorado Springs, yes we have great farmers markets and CSAs, but many of the farmers markets are selling right off the same trucks that come from Mexico to supply grocery stores.

    What I do see is that people are questioning more and more information is getting out there. I also think that as the economy starts to pick up again that more folks will allow their money to follow their values (spending a bit more in order to get sustainably grown food).

    • Christine October 31, 2012 at 7:06 pm #

      Ya’ know, I tend to agree with you, Malik and a few others that the most significant indication of a “shift” is the fact that people are talking about this. Folks are having real conversations about food, agriculture, sustainability, GMOS’s, organic, and humanely raised. This is new and radical, and in my mind it is moving our culture closer to a sustainable food system.

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