In Seed Starting

Time to Start Vegetable Seeds

Is it time to start vegetable seeds in your area? For me, the time to start vegetable seeds can be anywhere from February through April.
time to start vegetable seeds

Time to Start Vegetable Seeds

This weekend marked the start of gardening season here at Seven Oaks. I ordered seeds from  Burpee: celeriac, leeks, broccoli rabe, cherry tomatoes (none of these seeds were available at the local big box stores.)  I planted a tray of bell pepper seeds, as well as Beefsteak and Early Girl tomatoes, eggplant, and basil seeds. The rest of the seeds are planted outdoors, directly sown into the ground, except for the cherry tomato seeds, but they will take a week or two to get here. In the meantime, the others have been planted.

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Harden off seeds outside before transplanting into the garden.

Harden off seeds outside before transplanting into the garden.

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My seed-starting light table was my husband’s invention. He purchased a plastic utility shelving unit from Lowe’s and hung fluorescent lights under each shelf from chains. I hook the lights up to a power strip, and the whole thing runs by a timer. It wasn’t expensive and offers four shelves for starting seeds.
The most difficult aspect of this seed-starting unit is keeping water from dripping down onto the lights. I solved that problem with a combination of trays to catch the water and extra tiles from the kitchen floor tile boxes that we saved.  We have plenty of extra tiles, so I took three for each shelf and placed them under the trays. They work well as long as I don’t unleash a flood of water; only trays will catch that much water!
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I also took cuttings from my pink and burgundy African violets this weekend.  You can start African violet leaves by immersing them in water, or dipping the cut ends of the leaf stems in rooting hormone, then planting it in moist, sterile potting soil. Keep the humidity high and don’t let it dry out. I originally started these leaves in water, but they were slow to grow, so I dipped the end in rooting hormone and planted them in pots under the plant lights. African violets love artificial lights, especially the proportion of bright, steady light I keep on my seeds, so I hope they will start easily.
We now have a free Seed Starting Guide on Home Garden Joy, so if you are looking for more information on starting seeds, check it out!
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This weekend also gave us much sorrow….Razzlebear, shown above, died on Sunday morning. As some of you may remember, he was the first cat that Shadow found on one of our walks.  Raz was feline leukemia positive. It’s a horrible disease. It destroys the cat’s immune system over time, making them susceptible to cancer and infections.  Raz was almost three years old, much, much too young to die, but feline leukemia takes its toll on the animals and eventually, neither antibiotics nor anything helps them fight off the infection. He died in his favorite spot, in a warm, safe place, only minutes after my husband last checked on him.  It was certainly better than the life he would have had if we hadn’t found him huddled in the ditch three years ago; I doubt he would have survived the winter that year.
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We’ve buried my little baby Raz next to my first cat, Baloo, behind the forsythia hedge, with many tears and farewell wishes. He was my sweet cat, my cuddle boy, the cat who loved nuzzling into my lap in the evenings. He liked to garden with me, too, and would lay down next to me outside whenever I worked in the garden, “helping” me plant bulbs or seeds.  When we found the litter of kittens, they followed Raz around and copied whatever he did, so much that we called him “Uncle Raz” and told the kittens he was their uncle. Strangely enough, as my husband dug the hole to bury Raz yesterday, two of the “nephews” came by and lay down nearby to watch. It was as if they knew he was gone.
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