Plan well and keep good gardening notes
I'm not a good planner. Actually, I'm the distracted type. But when it comes to gardening, I taught myself to be a good planner, otherwise I can't have beautiful and healthy plants. I'm also a good listener and a good executive, so I'm always following my Dave's Garden friends' advice and they are the best gardeners ever. However, I also watch a Romanian TV gardening show where I learn a lot about growing things. They are always advising about the perfect time for each of the gardening chores and I listen. I also write down the advice in a note book. I know it's old-fashioned, but I like it this way and not the modern cell-phone or tablet. I always have the right information about the specific chore I need to do and I am carefully keeping all of them in mind.
Indoor winter gardening chores
Most of the winter, from December to February, there is nothing planned, so I'm just watering my houseplants. Every now and then I have to spray some of the plants with bug spray, but that's it. Then, starting February I start the new year's gardening chores with one of the most important ones, sowing seeds. I'm sowing vegetables, but also some of the flowers I grow in my garden, which need to be started earlier, in order to grow big enough to transplant outside in the spring. I could buy the plants already grown from the nursery, but I like this whole process of sprouting and growing from seeds and to be honest, I have the time for this!
Selecting seeds and preparing the seed starting trays
But that's not the whole reason. I also need to sow my own saved tomato and pepper seeds because I want to eat heirloom tomatoes that I can't always find at the nursery. I sow tomato and pepper seeds on February 1st - it can be on the 2nd or 3rd, but not later. I have several varieties and I usually sow a few seeds of each. By this time of year, I have all my plant seeds organized, each in their paper envelope, with their name written on it. All the envelopes are in a huge box, where I keep all my vegetable seeds. Tomatoes are on one side, peppers on the other side and all other seeds in between, including herbs which have a special spot in my box. I also have another box for the flower seeds. Therefore it's very easy to find the seeds that I need to sow. I might also sow a few eggplants and some herbs, such as lovage and parsley. Because it's a difficult task, my smart Kitty is always helping me to chose the right seeds.
Sowing seeds for spring transplants
I'm using recycled small plastic pots, which I collected from my coffee drinker colleagues. I just need to buy a big soil bag from the nursery to fill all the pots. I usually sow two seeds in each pot, so the seedlings will have enough space to grow strong, without having to divide them later. When they have grown enough, I will just plant them in the garden.
I select the tomato, pepper, eggplant, lovage and parsley seeds. I count them all and decide which will have more than 2 seeds sown in one pot. Once decided how many pots I need, I arrange them in my two plastic trays, where I usually keep the vegetable seedlings. That way, they are easier to water, move and clean. I fill all the plastic pots with soil. I take each seed bag and take all the seeds I want, then put 2 seeds on the soil of each pot. However, I don't bury them until after I finish placing all the seeds on top of the soil. I like to arrange the same species together, so I can plant them the same way into the garden.
After sowing each species, I write down its name on as many labels as I need, so I can label all the pots containing the same species. And I go on like that until I'm done with all the seeds. I bury the seeds, by pushing them gently into the soil. Then I cover the seeds with a little more soil.
I do the same for the flower seeds, although I'm not sowing many of those because many of my flowers are self-sowing or perennials in my garden. However, some of them don't reseed well in the garden, such as the petunias and the pansies because of the other plants, which are taller and bushier. I need to grow pansies from seeds indoors or I just buy a few already grown from the nursery in the spring.
Even though I'm always saving petunia seeds from the petunias growing in my window boxes, I prefer to let them self-seed and grow in there, where they fell. Every fall I dig out and throw away the old petunias from the window boxes. Then, in February I start to water the soil, where thousands of petunia seeds are waiting. They sprout and grow until spring, when I dig most of the sprouts out and plant them into the garden.
I keep the plastic cups and the window boxes at the windows. Actually, several different windows, as they don't fit together and they each need the light for growing. And I start to water them with my special plastic bottle with holes in the lid, that I made myself, like a homemade sprinkler. Until the seedlings pop out, I water the pots every day, just enough to keep the soil damp. Then I water them only when the soil gets dry. Constantly wet soil can cause the seedlings to rot.
Growing the seedlings isn't that easy, especially because it takes a long period of time. My seed starting begins in February and the seedlings are ready to be planted in May, when the weather, and especially the nights, are warm.
So, if you are ready to start a beautiful adventure, you can start the seeds just about now!