I started vegetable gardening in 2004 when we moved to Spring HIll Farm and every year I am expanding my garden as well as the variety of vegetables I grow. Now, I wished I had kept better records early on, but it is never too late to start!
In the beginning I used mostly the 6- or 9-cell seed starting plastic pots, but cleaning them up for restarting seeds was difficult as they tend to break. I used to recycle all my yoghurt and sour cream containers, but now I am using them for seed starting – all you need to do is drill a couple of holes into the bottom for proper drainage and you have a sturdy pot. I usually start 6-10 seeds in the pot and then transplant after they develop their first true leaves into individual pots. It may seem more laborious, but that way I am not wasting space when not all seeds germinate and I end up with individual cells/pots had need to be tossed out.
So this year, I am growing artichokes (Green Globe) for the first time. My garden is in zone 6 and it is too cold for artichokes to over-winter. So I have to trick them- since they are biannual vegetables which means they will flower the second year – to think this is the second year. After germination I will transfer them outside when it is still cold, but not freezing. We will see if this experiment will work out! Since the seeds are fairly big, I seed two seeds per pot (use seed starting mix only!!) and use a pencil to push them 1/4 inch deep into the soil, add a little soil to top off and then use a spray bottle (I reuse an old, rinsed Febreze pump sprayer) to wet the top layer without disturbing the seeds. Once the top of the soil is hydrated, I carefully water them until water comes out the drainage holes. I still let them sit in a tub with 1/2 inch water to help moisten the soil – seed starting mix is dry like powder and and seeds will not germinate if they are in dry soil. I highly recommend a seedling heating mat as this speeds up germination like a dream. I usually put a layer of insulating styrofoam underneath the heat mat. The temperature sensor is inserted into your seed pot and set to the desired temperature depending on the vegetable variety – I use 82 F for most of my seeds.
Besides the 8 artichoke seeds that I started today, I also started my eggplants – my standard “Diamond” and two new varieties :