My Secret Garden

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Beginning

In the case of gardening, most people start with seeds. You can start with transplants, (little plant you buy at the store usually in a 4 or 6-pack) but those get transplanted the same way our seeds will a little later, so we will get there. I prefer seeds for a number of reasons:

1- Cost.  It's much cheaper to buy seeds than plants.
2- Variety. Most home improvement stores have a wide selection of seeds of virtually any vegetable  you can dream up.  Seed packets require no maintenance and very little space. Plants, even seedlings, require daily watering, sun exposure and space for pots.
3- Satisfaction. There is something about seeing a seed turn into a seedling which grows into a plant that produces food for your family.

So for starting seeds...

You will need:

Seed starter.  I prefer organic seed starter.  I usually buy it when it goes on sale at the end of the season (August-November) and store it for the following year.
Seed starter containers.  There are many choices for seed starting containers.  You can purchase special containers or use/reuse common household items.
 I've used Styrofoam or cardboard egg cartons, yogurt cups, milk gallons, red plastic cups, peat pots and seed greenhouse trays. I like to save money so I prefer the cheapest. Cover any vessel that can hold seed starter and water with plastic wrap and voila instant Greenhouse.  Alternately you can place smaller cups and such inside gallon zip bags.

One really cheap "greenhouse" to make is a milk jug greenhouse.

Take a clear plastic milk jug, a roll of packing tape and a box cutter.  Cut around the milk jug just under the handle. tape the pieces back together on one side inside and out to make a hinge.  Use the box cutter to poke holes in the bottom. Fill the bottom half with with seed starter. Plant your seeds.

For the store bought version you can buy the trays with plastic dome lids like the ones pictured below. There are trays included which are usually 1x1inch squares or seed starter pods that expand to 5 inch tall 1x1 round plugs with paper on the outside. 
I have found that the smaller soil area in the inset trays or dries out more quickly so I remove the inner trays and fill the bottom tray with seed starter. Then I plant my seeds in little rows in the tray.  I use small craft sticks to label the plant and the date planted.

Depending on the seed type, you will soon have little seedlings. :)



  1. I have about a 15 feet area by my fence near the front of my house that I am interested in planting some vines. I really like the Scarlett honeysuckle, yellow jasmine and jackmanii clematis. Would 3 plants be too much for that area? I do want them to go wild and grow together. Would this work??

    Thanks, Lisa

    1. You should be fine. You will probably want to prune both the Scarlett Honeysuckle and the Jackmanii Clematis regularly to keep balance as they can spread up to 10-20 feet. But generally the recommended spacing for planting is:
      Clematis - 2 feet
      Jasmine 4 feet
      Honeysuckle - 2 feet

      So for design I'd probably put the Jasmine in the middle and four feet away on either side I'd put the honey suckle and Clematis. Which will put a total of 8 feet of plants. Then I'd train the two on the outer edges to grow out covering the remaining 3 feet on either side.

  2. Thank You so much Elisabeth!! I will purchase these plants this weekend of the next and plant them accordingly. I assume it will take about a year to have them all grown nicely. Is there a certain type of planting mix I should use? We have alot of red clay in the ground in NC.

    Thank You!!

    1. For in the ground gardening, I use a mixture of topsoil and organic Miracle Grow Garden soil. You may need to add other things, which leads me to my next post.... amending your soil. And you should see some really nice blooms this year. I don't think it will take a year for them to bloom.