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I need advice on starting seeds  RSS feed

 
Chelsea Green
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Help! I am just beginning my garden.. I have three hugel beds so far and two more in the making. I bought a variety of seeds and need to start them in a month, give or take. I am in central AL (zone7b). Our home is not the biggest house and we have little space that's not already in use. I live with a terrible control freak who doesn't want me to start seeds on the kitchen table, (which we NEVER eat at) because she doesn't like "to have anything on the table". So, this is where I need some suggestions.. I am looking for creative ways to build an inexpensive green house type thingy to start them.. so I don't have to listen to the bitchingggg. Out of sight, out of mind right?? Is this even possible? Without spending a bunch of money?
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Bryant RedHawk
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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I'd look into using either row covers or clear visquene as a row cover. That way you are building a very temporary, removable, low tunnel type green house exactly where you need it and only for as long as you need it.

We have covers that we put over the beds about two weeks before we want to plant so they can warm the soil a little.
once we have planted and watered in the seeds, the covers go on and we only need to check on things about once a week until the end of march.
We use heavy wire hoops with a clear polyethylene cover material that is held down on the sides and closed at the ends once it is installed.
This works great for getting things started a month earlier than we could without the covers.
 
patrick canidae
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http://www.gardengatemagazine.com/49cloche/

http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/garden-cloche-zmaz84sozraw.aspx

https://youtu.be/zzkpZB3Qw1w

I could grow bushels of peas and pole beans on the overgrown "fence" behind you. Rake or hoe the dead vegetation off a few inches wide the entire length of the fence just to the yard side of the vegetation, press in peas or beans the appropriate space, and let them self trellis up that fence line full of character. Bonus points if you get a weed torch or use mini bon fires with junk pallet scrap or other wood to flame girdle those plants first, and then plant the peas and beans to shade out the understory of un-useful growth!

Also, start cold hardy plants that don't need protection other than maybe a sheet thrown over them when threatened with a frost. Radishes, beets, kale, collards, etc. to reduce the amount of row cover or cloches you need.
 
Chelsea Green
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food preservation forest garden hugelkultur
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Thank you guys so much. I am a complete novice so this really helps. I probably bought a little too many seeds to plant, this being my first full growing season, but I'm super excited. Will definitely be using the 'ol "fence". I have a lot that will need trellising. Building beds and buying seeds are not as hard as figuring out what plants should go where and when to start them. Like I said, I am a complete beginner so please keep any advice coming and thanks for your time!
 
ev kuhn
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Location: N-E edge of Atlanta
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Chelsea Green wrote: ...I bought a variety of seeds and need to start them in a month, give or take. I am in central AL (zone7b)...

you might want to recheck planting dates, last frost should be about the same in central AL und central GA
about halfway down the page
the paragraph about "Planting the Garden" and "Plant on Schedule"
at the very bottom: Click here for Planting Chart PDF

not sure what 'inexpensive' means in numbers, but if you are serious about gardening, rather than fumbling together a low tunnel contraption
you might want to think about an improved el cheapo greenhouse
 
J Argyle
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I would suggest a cold frame. You can heat the air or ground if you need the extra heat. You have the option to buy one or build one out of old windows, but be careful some of the very old windows have a asbestos glazing.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=-3uYg2uvVqA&ebc=ANyPxKpgUwGNY524fuu4vtMOidb7hLLmPKvvcsnKf0EVO7EmWb-rNWe9qsejirmujZukDEKSmSAoY1BwWqYXLUKvJEjPtmGAGA

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=AM4XU1D6aI0

 
Casie Becker
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Location: Just northwest of Austin, TX
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If you bought too many seeds, you might look into freezing some. Look up info about it online, but you probably extend the usable life of your seed across multiple seasons.

My climates a litte warmer than yours, but here it is possible to plant early cold season crops and replace them as the weather warms with later season summer crops. What seeds are you working with?
 
Todd Parr
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Location: Wisconsin, zone 4
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Chelsea Green wrote: I live with a terrible control freak ...
...so I don't have to listen to the bitchingggg


I would solve this problem first. All the others will probably vanish after that.
 
Su Ba
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I store seeds in a sealed jar in my refrigerator. Not all seeds coming from seed sources are dried down sufficiently for safe freezer storage.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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When storing seeds you need to be aware that freezing can actually kill some seeds (those that don't need stratification to sprout).
As Su Ba Mentioned it is actually better to store seeds in the fridge instead of the freezer.

Glass jars work best for long term seed storage, they should be sized for the quantity of seeds so there is little air space.
Properly stored seeds will usually last around 5 years on a shelf, about 10 years if put into cold (not frozen) storage.
 
Ann Torrence
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Got empty milk jugs? Google "winter sowing" and you can do it right now, outside, no mess and most things will do better than if you started them in the house.
 
Tristan Vitali
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Location: south-central ME, USA - zone 5a/4b
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Some advice from the great white north - you need some cheapo DIY low tunnels that you can throw plastic over for the winter/early spring and remove for the summer. They'll quadruple in function as over the summer, you'll get cheap and effective crop protection by throwing bird netting or even window screen over it to keep the munchers at bay, during the hottest part of summer you can throw some shade cloth over them to protect the more delicate plants like lettuce from sunburn and droughty conditions, then you throw the plastic back over in the fall/early winter for your winter carrot supply and all the garden fresh, cold hardy greens you've been missing. Using the low tunnel, I was still harvesting swiss chard, lettuce cabbage leaves, collards, kale and broccoli just a two weeks ago here in Maine .. heck, even the volunteer borage seedlings were still going strong on Christmas! Look up Elliot Coleman to see what's possible if you're interested



That picture shows aluminum tubes for ribs covered with bird netting - the cheapo, redneck version uses the gray, UV-treated schedule 40 PVC electrical conduit. It's not very environmentally friendly I'm sure (aluminum is no better), but it's durable, lasting for many years and staying flexible. Regular pvc pipe is often cheaper but UV will kill it in just one or two seasons, so better to spend the 30% more upfront and get decades out of it.

Eyeballing the size of your beds, you're probably looking at 10 foot lengths of 3/4" electrical conduit for the ribs ($2 each around here). You'll want those set at about a 2 foot spacing (so 11 of them for a 10 foot long bed). A 20x100 roll of clear 4 mil plastic ($60-$80) will do wonderfully and last for at least a full year of use, maybe two, though it will cloud up due to UV damage over time and start getting brittle. You'll also need two 2ft lengths of 1/2" rebar for each rib ($1.60-$1.80 each) - jab them into the soil on either side of the bed and pound them in so only 6" to 1ft is still sticking up, then place your conduit down over those, creating a nice arch. This part is a pain if you have rocky soil or bedrock close to the surface, but it definitely doesn't have to be perfect.

The next step up from this is a full diy cheapo hoop house you can grow citrus in with your climate...setting up a few low tunnels will be good practice

The low tunnel will help immensely with your greens, protection from frost, and getting the soil warm earlier in the season, but with some of those more picky seeds, like tomatoes/peppers/eggplants, you really do need extra heat (they like to germinate with temps around 70*F minimum, some holding out for 95*F!). In those cases, it's going to be hard to do much other than having them indoors. Top of the fridge might do the trick (then move to warm/sunny window once sprouted). Another option is a heating pad in an out of the way place (under the bed?) until they sprout (and again, move to warm/sunny spot). If you've got a rocket mass heater, well, consider it a super efficient, renewable resource fueled mega-heating-pad. The cat will just have to find another place to be lazy
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://stoves2.com
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