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Jan 21, 2009

Nobody Breathe! A bit on seeds and record keeping.


I can’t believe how small they are- God, forbid I should sneeze! Lobelia seeds. They are ridiculously tiny! I’m sure there are even smaller seeds- but this was enough for me! And I insist on only having one seed per soil block, or try to have only one seed per soil block. I use these micro soil blocks for really tiny seeds and seeds that take forever to germinate- that way they take up much less room in the greenhouse. For me it is much less trouble to try to get only one seed per block rather than sowing a bunch and having trouble pricking out later on- teasing their roots apart to get a few plants- I can’t do it! I lose too many and feel horrible! Below is the size of soil block I use.


As you can see the soil blocks are tiny- sorry the dime has a glare on it. I use the micro soil block maker that I posted about a while ago to easily make these- they are by far my favorite tool for starting seeds. I’ve heard some say that the blocks crumble on them- this has never happened to me. I used to make my own soil for these, following Eliot Coleman’s recipe that I found in either his book Four Season Harvest, or his show Gardening Naturally that was on years ago. It was probably the book, however, because I’ve only been using this soil block method for a couple years. In any case, I’ve never had them crumble. Last year I started using the Black Gold Coco Blend potting soil and I now get close to 100% germination. I usually sift it for use with the micro soil blocks and add a little sifted compost, if I have any ready.

A friend was asking me a while ago how I store my seeds, and keep track of what I’ve sown. Well, I don’t have the best system, I’m sure, but here is what I do.

Here is my seed box.


I keep this in a very cool spot in my house. Most seeds go in this and for seeds that I’ve found don’t hold viability well, like corn salad, I put those in a special container in my fridge- one that air can be removed from. Someday I hope to get an old refrigerator for my garage and keep both my bulbs and seeds in there.

Inside my seed box, I have a few tools.


Real exciting, right? In the box are a label and marker, a glue stick to reseal the seed packs, a sharpened chop stick (I like to use the ones I saved from my trips to TX :), a soil test kit (which I have yet to use, I’m bad), and the seeds filed according to month. For sowing I use a white plate to put the seeds on, so I can see them better, and I keep a little cup with water near by to dip the chop stick into, so the seeds are easier to pick up. It makes it a lot easier to get just one seed in one soil block doing it this way. And of course, I have to have my granny glasses on! 

When going through the box this year, I found quite a few seeds that were a bit old, or some that friends gave me that I never did anything with, and a few that I just didn’t care for (looking at my records)- my husband suggested just tossing them into an unused bed and wait to see what pops up- I thought this was a great idea, so that is what I plan to do. I think I’ll throw them into the 4x4 I have for bulbs that I want to take with us when we move. That should be exciting!


I’ll even be nice and prepare the bed with sifted compost!

For keeping track of everything I’ve sown, I have a couple things I do. I have the Garden Tracker software that I use to keep records in, and it has a wonderful seed sowing log feature-  Here is a screen shot of the seed starting log. There is much more to this software, so be sure to check it out.


Garden Tracker has quite a few printable worksheets that I use for some things. I use the software and a notebook. I can take the notebook out in the greenhouse with me which is a nice thing. I use one sheet for greenhouse sowings and one for outdoor, including the cold frame. I don’t really care for the seed starting worksheet in Garden Tracker because the sheet is for only one plant type and I start so many seeds at the same time that I would end up with too many sheets. The other worksheets are useful, however. Below, are the ones I’ve managed to make. I’ve redone these at least a dozen times, changing this or that, I’m sure I’ll keep doing that until I get them just right. If you’d like to see them, or use them, here they are.

File iconseedstart-greenhouse.doc

File iconseedstarting-outdoors.doc


Some time in the next week, I’ll be putting up a list of things I’ve started  in the sidebar. And for my friends that are local, I was thinking of putting up a list of things available for you to come and grab for your gardens- please let me know if there is anything special you’d like and I’ll see what I can do.


Please let me know if you cannot view or use the files above- this is the first time I’ve used and I’m unsure I have done it correctly :)

Happy Gardening!



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