While I love the idea of watching things grow and knowing I grew something from seed, the only experience I had with it was when I was 1st married and did try growing a bunch of plants from seed. Needless to say, I didn’t try it again. The plants were so flimsy and pathetic looking that it was just easier the next few years to buy plants all ready to put in the ground.
I still love the idea of growing my own plants though. So when I heard Farmer Brown (http://farmerbrowns.ca ) was going to give a demonstration on seed starting for Seedy Saturday (sponsored by Foods of the Fundy Valley) in Hillsborough, I thought I would check it out again. LIsa aka “Farmer Brown” was very helpful and informative. She has had lots of experience owning a greenhouse business for ~ 17 years and working for growers before that. Apparently she supplies the flowers for Fundy Park and the City of Moncton. If you have loved seeing those flowers as much as I have you know she has sound knowledge and experience and great quality plants as a result. I have never visited her greenhouses but always try to see what she has going on when we drive by going the “back” way to the cottage. We will have to visit her this year and get a tour around her place.
Some of her top tips was to make sure the soil is not too wet or dry when trying to germinate the seeds. Start with a non soil mix and keep the soil : seed ratio small at 1st like the size of an egg carton or smaller. They like warmth so she suggested a great spot is in your closed oven with the light on ( not the heat !) to help them germinate. You may need to mist 3-4 x/day to keep them moist. Most seeds do not need to be covered but you can cover with some vermiculite so the new plant is able to get rid of its seed head as it pokes through the dirt. Once you see the 1st set of true leaves ( not the 1st 2 leaves- that’s called the Cotyledon!) you need to start to fertilize with a 12:4:14 type fertilizer. You don’t want long and leggy plants! You want more leaves than stem and a compact plant growing for optimal transplanting potential and harvest.
Once the seeds have germinated you need to move them to a light source to get stronger and bigger. She said a basic fluorescent set up is all you need and keep it about 6 inches above the plant for 14-16 hours to simulate the light from outdoors. Most plants need to be transplanted into bigger containers before they get outside- timeline seems to vary for this depending on your plant. There was a little debate about when it’s safe to plant outdoors. Lisa mentioned it even depends what side of the road and where frost hits first that may determine when and where you are safe to plant.
There were lots of great people at Seedy Saturday. Here were some of the vendors:
Farmers Browns Greenhouse- www.farmerbrowns.ca/
Mapple Farms- www.mapplefarm.com/
Fundy Farms- www.facebook.com/FundyFarmslocalharvest/
Annapolis Seeds- www.annapolisseeds.com/
Bee Wise BeeKeeping- www.facebook.com/beewisebeekeeping/
Hillsborough Farmers Market- https://www.facebook.com/Hillsboroughnbfarmersmarket
Cochrane Family Farm- www.cochranefamilyfarm.com
Bear Roots Forest- www.bearrootsforest.ca
Tansy Lane Herb Farm- http://www.tansylane.ca/
The Saucy Apron-
Canadian Hemp Creations-
Curryville Community Center- Veseys Bulb Fundraiser
After seeing all that wonderful inspiration I decided to experiment on my own after my fails from many moons ago. I ordered some seeds from Rainbow Seeds in Riverside-Albert who have an online business selling Heirloom and Non-GMO seeds. I then visited Jill ( aka Miss Fancy Farmer http://www.missfancyfarmer.ca/) at the local Coop to get my soil, vermiculite and fertilizer. Here is what I’m starting with:
I’ve put in corn, green beans, sugar pie pumpkins, pickling and Armenian cucumbers. The other seeds like carrots and lettuce I can sow in June I think and they will do well on their own. I want to give the other stuff a head start if I plan to try them at the cottage in the fog and wind. So we’ll get these babies in the oven for a few days and see how they do. Follow along to see how they and I fare!
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Oh I almost forgot!! I ordered an extra pack of mixed lettuce seeds I’d like to send a lucky reader. Leave a comment or subscribe and I’ll pick a name and send you some seeds you can plant for yourself!!