Sunday, January 8, 2012

Winter planting

It's Planting Time!!

Last year my garden was generally lacking in all ways, I think because I was just getting back into substituting and there was just a general craziness in my home so I felt no desire to work on my garden.

In our new and wonderful 2012 I am feeling much more proactive and interested in getting my garden going so here we go!
Some time last year I found a growing kit at a thrift shop so I decided to use that for my starters. If you are planting indoors for the first time and are low on money you can make your own growing kit by using egg cartons (thats what I did last year) and just add in a regular potting mix or one that is geared towards new plants. I like the kit because each little disc of dirt has netting to keep it together, also it comes with a lid. My sister did some of her own plants and then her cats ate them because there was no lid. If you are making your own you could just put some plastic wrap over that top. It helps to keep all the moisture in so you don't have to worry about watering them.

A couple years back I purchased a container of small heirloom tomatoes at trader joes. It had probably 5 varieties of small tomatoes in it so I cut them open, squished the seeds out onto a paper towel, let them dry, and folded the paper towel up, placed it in an envelope, and wrote a description of the tomato on the outside. I have used these seeds now for two years and they have worked beautifully. Saved me a ton of money because seeds can get pretty expensive and here I was able to try out 5 different plants for 3 dollars.

The ones that seem to do best here are the yellow pear and the small cherry. So I planted mostly those. I tried out some flowers but they don't seem to want to come up. Then I am doing some herbs that I love, dill, basil, and cilantro.

With the discs, you soak them in warm water until they puff up to about an inch and a half. Place your seeds just below the surface of the dirt and then put your lid on and wait. It is that simple. I put colored toothpicks in mine so I would know whether it was a tomato, flower, or herb. It only took about 5 days for them to sprout. I waited an extra week before I took the lid off to see if my flowers were going to sprout but it doesn't look like they are going to.

I like to let them get a little bigger and then I'll thin out the extra sprouts, sometimes I transfer those extra sprouts into the discs that didn't sprout. I'll keep them inside, I can transfer them to yogurt containers when they get bigger, and then plant them outside around the end of march.

If you are growing tomatoes in a desert climate like Las Vegas, I'd recommend a book at the local library. The author grew tomatoes here in vegas for like 15 years and then she wrote this little binder book just about growing them here and how to do it. She recommends that once you plant them, you don't fertilize them until they give you some tomatoes otherwise all that fertilizer will be used to make the plant bigger. I definitely understood that my first year of tomatoes. My bushes got HUGE but with no fruit. So this year I will follow her advice. Good luck with your planting and let me know if you have any questions.