Arcadia Farms

  (Portage, Michigan)
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Seed Starting Resources

Those of us who live in cooler climates and who want to get a jump-start on the growing season have been thinking about seed-starting recently. Last winter I shared several informative posts about how and when to start seeds. This winter I thought it would be beneficial to present all of those resources to you in one easy-access post. So without further ado – here are some of my favorite resources for seed starting.

Arcadia Farms Seed Starting Plans

Here’s a peek into how we’ve put all of the advice below together to create our own seed starting plan.

2013 Seed Starting Plan

2014 Seed Starting Plan

Resources

soaking onion seeds in water

Seed Starting Spreadsheet Template

Instructions for how to use this spreadsheet are included on the first tab.

Seed Sources

Here are my favorite sources for seeds (heirloom and open-pollinated).

Soaking Seeds

Soaking seeds before planting speeds up germination by stirring up the process of the dormant baby plant inside the seed’s hull coming to life.

Optimum Transplant Age

Starting seeds indoors helps gardeners in cooler climates to get a jump start on the growing season. But how soon should you start your seeds? This chart provides guidelines for optimum transplant ages of select crops.

Square Foot Gardening Plant Spacing

Here’s a cheat sheet chart to let you know how many plants to sow per square foot. It’s easy to read on your mobile device so that you can use it in the garden.

Planting by Moon Phases

Did you know that the gravitational pull of the moon actually impacts the success rate of seedlings? Check this article out to learn more about the phenomenon and how you can use it to your advantage in the garden.

kale seedling in newspaper pot

Planting in Newspaper Pots

When you start seeds indoors, you need media – a substance to start your seeds in. I’m now using potting soil in plastic trays, but there are several options. Here’s an analysis of them all, along with details on how to make your own newspaper pots.

Keeping a Garden Journal

A garden journal is a tool you can use to keep track of important garden stats and observations. Being able to look back on this information will help you to plan for next year and will help you to identify patterns in your garden that you otherwise wouldn’t detect. In general, a garden journal allows you to record your successes and failures and details that may have impacted the outcome.

Square Foot Garden Seed Tape

Here’s an easy way to prepare for your spring garden while the snow is still on the ground. Seed tape helps you evenly space your seeds for maximization of resources.

Setting Up Your Garden for Seed-Saving

Here is a fabulous webinar video by Seed Savers Exchange on how to design your garden for seed saving. The post includes my summary notes to highlight the key concepts for those of you who don’t have time to watch the whole thing.

Container Gardening Tips

Everyone can have a garden, including renters and apartment dwellers. Here are some tips on container gardening to make yours a success.

Chitting (Sprouting) Potatoes

Chitting potatoes is the act of sprouting them before they are planted. It speeds up the maturity process and it’s super easy. This guide will show you how.

bean seedling

Planting Garlic

Garlic is a staple in the kitchen for many of us. The fact that it’s so easy and inexpensive to grow means it would also be a great staple in your garden. Here are tips for the best type of garlic for your garden, when to plant it and how to plant.

Garden Apps Wish List

For the technologically inclined among us, here are some apps that can streamline the gardening process.

Did you enjoy this article? Visit www.arcadia-farms.net for more info on eating healthy, saving money and buying locally.

 
 

Square Foot Garden Seed Tape

how to make seed tape

Seeds come in many shapes and sizes. The tiniest seeds – such as radishes, carrots and onions – can be difficult to sow with precision. One way to address this problem is to use seed tape. Fortunately seed tape is easy to make, store and use, both in traditional row gardens and Square Foot Gardening raised beds. Seed tape helps you conserve seeds, minimizes (or eliminates) the need to thin plants later in the season, and makes a great winter-time project to give you a jump start on spring. Also gardeners with back issues will find this method of sowing seeds much less painful than bending over a garden bed. Plus if you’re a neat freak, it will give you control over having a beautifully, perfectly spaced garden. Won’t the neighbors be jealous?

For pictures and all of the instructions for creating square foot garden seed tape, click here.

 
 

Dibble Templates for Easy Planting

Beekman 1802 holes from a dibble

{Image Credit}
http://beekman1802.com

Ever since I learned about dibbles, I’ve been wanting to make one of my own. A dibble is  a tool used to space seeds or seedlings in your garden by poking holes at exact measurements. Exact measurement comes in handy when it comes to Square Foot Gardening (SFG) because the main point of this intensive-planting method is to squeeze as many plants into 1 square foot (SQF) section as you can without hampering the plants’ ability to flourish. (For more on Square Foot Gardening, click here.)

Until recently, all of the dibbles I had discovered were board with pegs (to poke holes in the soil) managed with one central handle or two handles on the edges. I still think these are handy tools, but frankly, I don’t have the skill-set to make one. (However, if you know anything about woodworking at all, making your own dibble would probably be a breeze for you. Click here for a tutorial.) In addition to not being very confident with a saw, I’m also operating my micro-farm on a micro-budget. Simple as a wooden dibble may be, it still requires purchasing materials and I’d rather save that money for other items. Plus, to be most useful for my purposes, I would need four dibbles, each for the following SFG patterns:

  • 4 seeds per SQF
  • 8 seeds per SQF
  • 9 seeds per SQF
  • 16 seeds per SQF

Four boards. Lots of materials. Lots of time. I’ll pass.

And pass I have… for a long time… until I saw something that looked like this:

four seed dibble

This four-seed dibble allows you to perfectly place four seeds in one square foot of your garden.

Aha! Thanks to a post from a friend on Facebook (Clementine’s Homestead), I finally met my dibble match! This dibble is made from cardboard, which is cheap, easy to work with and readily available to pretty much anyone. Sure, it’s not as pretty as the wooden variety. And frankly, it’s also a smidge less efficient because you have to poke each hole rather than pushing the dibble down once, but, it still serves the same purpose of evenly distributing your seeds. If you have the skill-set, time and materials, you could make this same dibble with a wooden board (or a sheet of metal for that matter).

Wouldn’t you like to make one of these dibbles for your own garden? I thought you might… And that’s why I created these! Here are five dibble templates you can print at home to create your own dibbles in a matter of minutes. (That’s right, I did all of the measuring for you… feel free to leave a tip at the door as you leave.) Because they are 12? long, you’ll need to print on Legal Size (8.5? x 14?) paper. I created the templates in two sections (A & B) so that they are more easily printed from a home computer (which can sometimes only accommodate paper that is 8.5? wide).

To download our free dibble templates, click here.

 
 
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