Growing Veggies from Seeds

Phelan, CA(Zone 8b)

Hi. I'm new here and this place seems to be a wealth of information. I live in the CA High Desert, zone 8b, and I'm wondering if it's too late to start herbs and vegetables from seeds? I just read a long thread in one of the other forums about germinating seeds in coffee filters slipped into baggies and I'm getting excited about starting. Does anyone have any suggestions for what will grow best from seeds, later to be planted in my very hot, dry, windy climate? I think I'm going to do a raised bed with landscaping cloth a foot or so higher than the boards, both to keep the rabbits and squirrels out and for wind protection. TIA!

Mchenry, IL(Zone 5a)

hi, i dont know how much help i can be because i live in the cold! today it is 48 and raining. i started all my seeds about 10 days soon as its warmer i will put them in a little greenhouse..i have only had 3 days so far where its warm enough to put my seedlings in the greenhouse. over here we are usually lucky to get our tomatoes in the ground around the 13-15th of may. i can tell you that tomatoes love the heat.. i had one of my best harvests during our worst drought 2 years ago. of course i had to practically kill myself watering and my electric bills were horrid but i put up 81 jars of salsa that year. i also know that jalepenos love it hot . i start my seeds in peat pots with a tray and lid purchased wherever i can get it the cheapest. i use a sterile soilless potting mix. schultz's is good. i used a 4 shelf plastic display rack i got from my local grocer for free. i wired grow lights to the top of each shelf. i put heating pads under each seed tray to aid in germination( its cold here). this gives me three shelves. i do not like to germinate my seeds in plastic bags with coffee filters, or paper towels seems like twice the work, i get the best results from the above method. most seeds need light to germinate . i bet you could grow wonderful lavender. i havent had any success with it. its supposed to like it hot & dry. i probably wasnt any help but my other choice is to clean my house because its raining and cold. i would much rather be on this website than cleaning! best of luck!

Brimfield, MA(Zone 5a)

I'm sure there will be answers that better fit your needs than mine, but in my zone 5, most of us are starting our seeds now for May 15th - - which is considered our average last frost date. I am always so envious of your zone because you folks get to have a second set of veggie gardens while we are all freezing in the snow. It can be done, but I don't know how in my colder z5. Be patient and you will get many helpful answers. :)

Phelan, CA(Zone 8b)

Thanks you two. Even though you're not in my zone, you still helped a little. We had a very cold winter this year and just about a week ago there was still frost. I guess I should have started my seeds a month or ago but I'm thinking and hoping that it's still not too late. Thanks for your input! Hope you guys warm up a little. :-)

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

DesertRattess, WELCOME to the site!

It's not too late to start many seeds so don't give up. "Curcubits" germinate and grow pretty fast...those would be things like cucumbers, squashes, melons. I usually start our seeds about 3 weeks before planting out time.

Tomato seeds are started about 6 weeks before your plant out date. I'm sure you have a long growing season so you have plenty of time to get those going also. Peppers take "forever" to get up in size so I start those sometimes as much as 12 weeks before setting out. However, I'm sure you can always find some decent plants at garden centers for those.

As for herbs, basil is fairly easy to germinate and is fast growing. Many other herb plants that are slower growing can be picked up at garden centers and Voila(!), instant herb garden.

Wishing you a great garden this year!

Happy Growing!

Phelan, CA

Hi DesertRattess;
I too live in Phelan. I have found that in most cases we have a cold spell right before mothers day. I usually plant the beginning or middle of May. What are you using to raise you bed for planting. I am bound and determined to keep my flowers that year without the rabbits, squirrels and birds getting to them. Last year my husband planted marigolds which the rabbits are not supposed to like and they made it to 4 inches high and guess what? Stubs the next morning. If anyone has any ideas about keeping the critters away from the flowers any suggestions would be appreciated!

Central, WI(Zone 4b)

I have had some success with keeping small animals out of flowers using environmentally friendly granules that look somewhat like kitty litter. One I have used is called Rabbit Away. Not cheap but good for several months and bag good for quite a large area. I have also used some of the sprays that have a putrid egg and cayenne pepper base with good success. Smells awful until it dries. Usually works best before they have started munching. Once they get the taste or if they are really hungry all bets are off. Spray or sprinkle a few feet around the area too. If using spray need to repeat after heavy rain and as plants get new growth.
Only thing I have read for keeping the birds off is putting the netting over and that spoils the view in my opinion. Heard that if sprinkle bulbs and ground with cayenne pepper that deters this. Haven't tried this but plan to do so this year. Have also read that putting piece of chicken wire over the bulbs when planting will deter squirrels from digging them up.
Fencing also works. Not sure if the decorative kind would but might be worth a try.
I have read that contrary to popular opinion, rabbits love marigolds. Rabbits left mine alone but ate off the bachelor buttons as fast as they could grow even with using the granules.

Independence, MO(Zone 6a)

Hi, mamagoose! I give the rabbits their own garden, a patch of lawn in the back yard with wild strawberries and clover. So far that's been too tasty for them to show any interest in the lettuces &c in the veggie bed. Two years ago squirrels harvested my tomatoes for me. Last year I used netting that worked very well and was so thin it was nearly invisible -- great from the window, but a hazard at lawn-mowing time. I have a squirrel-friendly bird feeder this year, but I'll put up that netting again if Nutkin can't keep his mitts off my tomatoes.

Phelan, CA(Zone 8b)

Hi mamagoose. Wow, someone else from Phelan. Incredible! Anyway, we are using wood for our raised bed and we're going to surround it with chickenwire and put bird netting overhead. This is not exactly pretty to look at but we're not growing flowers. We buy those huge bags of horse carrots and throw them out there daily for the rabbits. This tends to keep them out of our plants but a lot of them still get eaten up. All my wild irises, for example, have been chomped! The squirrels are really becoming a nuisance. We have chickens and the squirrels have taken to burrowing holes underground to get into the chicken run to eat the chickens' food! My husband is going to buy a trap and we'll try relocating them. Last night was really chickens' water froze! I guess it is too early to plant outdoors.

Champaign, IL(Zone 5b)

I've heard that putting dog hair amungst the flowers keeps varmits at bay. Never tried it...I suppose you could check out a local pet groomer for free hair if you wanted to try it. I've tried the red pepper flakes, they seemed to work.....I've also heard that putting citrus rinds helps too, but that may just be to keep cats out.

Phelan, CA(Zone 8b)

I have dogs in my yard, (two of them large) and still see bunnies regularly. So I don't see how the dog hair could make a difference.

Phelan, CA(Zone 8b)

Since my last post, we got adopted by a stray puppy. The rabbits don't come near the house anymore cuz the dog is always hanging around, but they're still out there. The squirrels are getting worse too! I potted up my tomato plants and put them outside. I put them on top of my picnic table for now. The rabbits can't get up there. I've got some herbs on one of those small outdoor tables and they can't seem to reach those either. It's about 2 feet high. One thing about this area is we get terrific winds so any kind of granular deterrent is just gonna get blown away. I've made homemade egg-based repellent and it works okay but I definitely wouldn't trust it alone around here. You just have to have chicken wire and deer netting, or keep your plants up really high. One of my neighbors has her veggie garden in an old clawfoot tub!

Carmichael, CA

From what I have been reading and can tell, if you have peanuts and such for the squirrels to eat, you will have a much better chance of them leaving your gardens alone.

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