We like to do a combination of seeds and small plants for our raised garden beds. When you buy seeds you typically get quite a few seeds. So for things that you only want one of, it is best to get a small plant; whereas for those things that you want multiples of, it is best to start from seeds. In the spring we start our seeds inside.

Before we plan the seeds we like to sprout them. We use a cookie sheet with a layer of moistened paper towels. On the sheet of paper towels we will lay out the seeds and write what it is on the paper towel. Next we place another layer of paper towels and repeat the process until you have put down all of the seeds. Finish so that there is a top layer of moistened paper towels. We like to keep these in a warm location (like near the pellet stove). Depending on how long it takes for the seeds to spout, you may want to mist the paper towels to keep them moist. Depending on the type of seed, they tend to sprout in 1 to 7 days.

Once the seeds are sprouted we like to start them in trays. This gives us the ability to bring them inside at night and during cold days and to have them outside in the sun (or protected sun in the porch) when it’s nice outside. We have been most successful using the Jiffy system. The starter kit includes a tray with peat pellets. What I like about these is that you can buy refill pellets. The system is reasonably easy to use. They day before you want to plant the seeds, you fill the tray with water which soaks the pods. The pods grow up to 7 times their original size. They soak up the water pretty quickly and are ready in 12 to 24 hours. Then you stretch the netting and press the seeds into the soil. I missed this photo. However I do have a later photo. Below is what our seeds looked like 12 days after the above photos when we started sprouting them.

Once the plants have a good start in the trays and we don’t think there will be any more frost, we move them outside into our raised garden beds.

This year we started seeds for lettuce, cucumbers, summer squash, zucchini, peas, and carrots (regular and kaleidoscopes). We had good luck sprouting all of the seeds except the lettuce. That may just be a result of our priorities. We were able to get all of the other seeds started in trays and eventually transplanted into the raised garden beds. The lettuce was moved into the trays, but we opted to not plant it in the beds because we didn’t think it would do well.

For everything that we don’t start from seeds we buy as a small plant. I tend to buy my herbs as plants. This year I have Chives, Dill, Lavender, Oregano, Basil, and Mint. I also like to get several types of tomato plants; Cherry, Husky, and Roma (for cooking). We also decided to get a few extra plants this year; Eggplant, Green Pepper, and Jalapeno. Our strawberries from last year (2 plants) came back even stronger and are now more than half of a 4’x4′ bed and much bigger.

Aged Bed

We should have quite a variety of fruits and vegetables this year. We are really looking forward to seeing how well they do!

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