Our Seedy Start in Zone 9b

We enjoy growing plants from seeds.  It has become priceless family time for us.  Our 3-year-old did most of the actual seed planting because she is obsessed with it this year.  It was really heart-warming to see her expression when she noticed her seeds had popped through the soil.  She was absolutely elated.

Our seedlings are growing on tables inside our screened-in porch.

Seedlings growing in different kinds of containers.

We used several kinds of containers to start our plants in this year.  The short, clear containers are individual applesauce containers.  They work, but they’re a little shallow.  The larger, colorful containers are sippy cups that out-lived their tops.  They made great containers because they give the roots plenty of space.  We planted our bean seeds in those.   My favorite seedling containers are empty eggshells.  They make the seedlings easy to transplant and provide extra calcium.  

Seedlings for a Florida vegetable garden.

It’s important that the container be able to drain out the bottom.  My kids helped me to drill holes in ours.  It’s also important that the seedling containers be absolutely clean.  It’s best to disinfect them if possible.  I bought a huge box of popsicle sticks at the craft store and we labeled every single plant. 

One of my all-time favorite gardening books is called Grow Great Grub, by Gayla Trail.  Her blog is called You Grow GirlShe has so many clever and free ways to garden.  I love her idea to reuse the big lettuce containers that we sometimes purchase lettuce in from the grocery store.  We’re using one of those containers to grow more lettuce in (and the top as a tray underneath it).  Easy, convenient and free.  Love it!  I’ll post a photo of it when the lettuce sprouts.

Another fabulous book on gardening is Garden Anywhere, by Alys Fowler.  It’s my other favorite. She has even more ingenious ideas and fantastic information.  These two books explain so much and show you how to grow your food in an urban setting.  Did you know that hybrid plants resist insects and diseases but their seeds are sterile?  This doesn’t work for me because I like to save the seeds from a tomato that knocks my socks off.  I want to be able to eat that tomato again the following year.

Last year we planted all our seeds in containers outside on a big table in a nice shady spot.  Everything was labeled and we were so proud.  We forgot about the chickens.  They ransacked all our hard work in seconds.  Even our pet pigeons helped.  Then it rained.  The rain washed out the surviving seedlings.  Lesson learned.  That’s why our seedlings are safe inside our screened-in porch this year.  We still decided to lock up our chickens for the gardening season though.  They’re just too destructive to a newly planted garden.

Our chicken tractor is temporarily attached to our trampoline. The girls have a fresh place to forage.

We didn’t leave our seedlings in their containers for long this year.  They’ve been moved into the garden beds already.  The proper way to do this is called hardening off.  Since I don’t always follow the rules and we don’t have cold weather, I planted our babies right into our big garden beds.  I covered them with wire fencing and shaded them with palm fronds to protect them from the sun and rain.  They’re doing great.

An heirloom tomato seedling under wire fencing and palm fronds for protection from the sun & stray chickens.

Can you see the tiny seedling under there? It's next to the popsicle stick.

We placed pin wheels all over our garden to deter birds. So far, so good.

Come grow with us!

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