This past week I spent two five-hour days working with Dave in the greenhouse, planting flat after flat of seeds. He filled the pots while I kept going with the tweezers and seed bowl, and by the end of my shift on the second day, I had set a “new record” for his farm: 27 flats seeded in one day, bringing us up to a total of 64 flats ready to grow.
“I wouldn’t have gotten that much done on my own,” Dave commented — the verbal equivalent of a friendly slap on the back.
Turns out, it’s exhausting work sowing seeds in flats. You might not think so, but standing all day in one place, leaning over the flat, and meticulously popping one seed into each cell can be a real pain in the back. On the other hand, it’s very absorbing work — though you can certainly carry on conversations or sing along to the music while you work and not lose your place — and it’s satisfying to know that so many plants will grow from such simple work.
So it’s no wonder that after two days of this in the greenhouse, I was eager to get more of my own seeds started at home.
In organizing my seed box this year, I took the extra step of entering all the information — variety, source, year bought/harvested, starting and planting specifications — into a spreadsheet so that I knew what I had and could tag what needed to be started early.
That extra bit of organization helped me pull those seeds needing an early start, and seeing the first flat of onions sprouting well over the past week encouraged me to try more seeds.
I pulled out more onion seeds — this year’s choice of Clear Dawn open-pollinated onions, reputedly good for storage — as well as a selection of herbs, and sowed another flat of seeds. Later in the week, after picking up a couple more flats and more pots, I planted yet more herbs (including cumin, a new one for the spice garden) and the first brassicas (broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage).
Then I started a secondary spreadsheet, following the record-keeping style Dave had me use with his seeds: listing the date, the type and variety of seed, the source and lot number, the quantity, and which flat the seeds were planted in. Since my first seeds were already sprouting, I added a column for the germination date (so I can compare to what the seed packet tells me) as well as columns to use later in planting.
Overboard? Not really. So often my enthusiasm has gotten me to plant, plant, plant — and then forget what I had planted and where. This system should keep me on track better this year.
Of course, now that I’m more confident about starting seeds properly at home, the impulse is to start even more seeds. At this point, I only have one flat left, and I’m running out of space by the window, so either I’ll have to stop soon — or farm out my seedlings to other places (like a flat of tomatoes and basil to my parents for safe-keeping). Not having a greenhouse at home is starting to cramp my style!
And this also means I’ll likely need to find more room to plant more seedlings…