June and July is a very important time of year to start seeds. Just when we want to sit back and sip lemonade in our gardens, we need to sow more seeds for fall and winter food.
Once I harvest our garlic, I am going to have a large empty area. I could direct sow some seeds into the vacant soil then, but I chose to sow those seeds now. I’ll transplant in established seedlings, which is a good growing season extender technique.
I use recycled pots, flats and other containers to start my summer seeds in. There’s no need to buy plastic for this purpose. In my opinion, we already have far too much plastic in our lives so lets use what we have on hand.
Any light soil will work as a seed starter mix. I simply dig a few spare shovel fulls from my garden, and toss it with sifted compost, in my wheelbarrow. Another repurposing idea, is to use cut strips of dairy containers to make labels. I recommend using a permanent-ink Sharpie marker for lettering.
On June 15, I planted many varieties my bean seed stash (I might be a seed hoarder)!! Bush beans, and some pole beans, will have time to mature before our killing frost (which comes between Halloween and mid November). Not only will I reap many dried beans for our winter pantry, (and replenish my seed stash) but the bean plants will help nourish the soil where the garlic has been heavily feeding for the past 8 months.
In addition to 10 seeds of each bean variety, I also started several lettuce varieties, peas (shelling, snap and snow), cauliflower, broccolini, Lacinato kale, cabbage, beets, carrots, cilantro, dill and basil. The peas are group-planted in calm-shell packs to start. Once they are a few inches tall, I’ll gently separate the plants when I put in a garden row.
This nursery rack is set up in a partial sunny/partial shaded area. I purposefully put the newly planted seeds in a place where I will walk past them several times a day. It is essential that I keep the pots moist, to ensure proper germination. In warm, breezy weather I’ve watered them three times, or more, each day so the top crust never gets dry. A sprouted seed will die within hours, if it dries out. Which is exactly why I start most summer seeds in pots, so I don’t forget to water them in the established garden.
I’m sceptical about the complaint I’ve heard “that some seeds have terrible germination rates”. It’s been my experience, that lack of germination is due to lack of consistent moisture in the first days of life. After the seeds have sprouted, and begin to grow their second set of leaves, I’ll water amply once a day.