Things I Wish I’d Known When I Started Gardening

I’ve been gardening on my own for about 12 years now (I also dabbled as a kid, begrudgingly helping my Mom in her garden, but does that count?). Anyway, my first year or two of gardening on my own was pretty easy – I lived in a rental that already had a huge area ready to go for planting whatever I wanted, I just had to pull a few million weeds and plant some seeds. Another bonus about that garden was that a previous dweller of the home had left behind a bunch of big plastic planters that I filled with soil from the garden (I’ll touch on this more below), so I was pretty lucky since I had little to no disposable income at that point in my life. And although those first few years were very easy for me, I didn’t know a lot about gardening. Then we moved to our current residence and it was a whole different story – a dog-stained sod and concrete block nightmare. I wish I could say we had a clean slate, but we really didn’t. We had what years of previous owners had left behind. Sometimes I’m envious of people who move in to new builds with total clean slates. Anyway, now that I’ve had a few years of gardening experience under my belt, I thought I would share a few tips that may be useful to the just starting out gardener, or that may even serve as a reminder to the experienced gardener – these are all definitely things that I learned along the way from that first garden to our current garden.

1. There is a lot of information out there and everyone has advice for you. Start off by checking out a few gardening blogs and acquiring a book. My favorite gardening blog is You Grow Girl (Gayla Trail has a ton of resources for the new gardener) – also check out her first book with the same name. The first gardening books I owned were by Lois Hole who was a Alberta specific gardener (these are still the ones I refer to the most), so my recommendation is to look for a book that is specific to your climate (you can also search online for gardening blogs in your area). While I do value the advice from experienced gardeners, it can be a bit overwhelming to the new gardener. Accept and be thankful for the advice and then take it with a grain of salt. You really won’t know what it going to work for you unless you experiment.

2. Your soil is the most important thing. If you’re going to spend any money in your garden, spend it building up your soil. Spending money on dirt may seem pretty silly, but trust me, it makes all the difference. A good combination of healthy garden soil, manure and compost will be your best bet – it really depends on what you’re starting out with. My soil has quite a bit of clay naturally, so ensuring that I’m adding in materials that will provide the soil with sufficient drainage was important. The best thing to do if you’re starting fresh is to purchase a truck load of dirt or get one of those really, really big bags delivered – it will be much cheaper than buying individual bags from a garden center (I made this mistake as a new gardener). If you don’t think you’ll use a big load of dirt, you actually probably will – worst case you can spread a thin layer on your lawn to provide a boost of fresh nutrients.

3. Speaking of soil, don’t do what I did and just shovel dirt from your garden in to pots – this soil is probably way to heavy for your pots and the drainage will be terrible, causing your roots to rot. Your potted plants will also be competing with weeds for space and nutrients. If you only have a few pots to fill, you can absolutely get away with buying the individual bags of soil from the garden center.

4. Another note on potting soil – you do not need to replace the soil in your pots annually – I rarely do. The only exception for me is the smaller pots – I always replace the soil in those because most of the plants grown in them have become root bound by the end of the season, so I just throw the plant and the dirt in the compost pile. But with your bigger planters, it is totally okay to just refresh the old soil by removing the top 6 inches of old soil and replacing it with a mixture of fresh soil and compost. I do follow a couple of rules when it comes to replacing pot soil – the first I mentioned above (small pots), but the other is that I ensure not to plant the same types of plants in my pots the next couple of years in order to prevent the spread of disease. So for example, tomatoes will never be planted in the same soil twice. Healthy soil = healthy plants. The third exception would be that if any diseased or sickly plants were grown the year prior, that soil would go right in my trash bin and be replaced with fresh soil (always make sure those pots have had a good scrub as well before getting fresh soil).

5. You don’t need many tools. You need a good hose with a good nozzle, a shovel with a sharp edge, some gloves (if you choose, I know lots of gloveless gardeners), a sturdy bucket, and a good trowel (my favorite is the hori hori because it does double duty as a trowel/knife/murder weapon). I have lots of other tools like rakes, a hoe, a pitch fork, various hand tools, and so on, but I rarely use them.

6. Don’t get too ambitious on your first try. Start off with a tomato plant in a pot, some herbs, some lettuces, and a few other easy plants. And don’t be disappointed if you only get a handful of tomatoes or if everything dies. I still kill things and I still sometimes only get a handful of tomatoes – that’s just part of the game. Half the fun is learning about your climate and growing conditions, making mistakes, and thinking up ways to try again next time.

7. You don’t need to buy the biggest plant. The biggest plant will also be the most expensive. I almost always opt to buy the smaller version of a perennial because I know it will only be a year before it is the size of the large one – the key is patience. Also, if you know you’re going to have to fill a larger area, you can always purchase a couple of plants and wait until end of season sales where you can often get plants for next to nothing (about half of my garden is discount plants). Instant gratification is no fun when it comes to gardening – experience it fully and watch tiny plants grow in to unruly monsters!

8. Don’t overspend. This is easier said than done. You can garden on the cheap, trust me. The garden centre is great, but it is also really expensive. I can easily walk in intending to buy no more than a bag of dirt and walk out with $100 in plants. Connect with your local horticultural society and see when the next plant swap or plant sale is. Also, make friends with gardeners as most of them are more than happy to divide plants up for you. I also end up giving away quite a few tomato seedlings in the spring because I’ve been too ambitious with my seed starting. Keep your eye on your local Craiglist, Kijiji, or equivalent for free pots and plants. Also like I mentioned above, you only need a few tools to get you started and you’ll really want to initially put your money in to good soil.

9. Build things up over time. I am guilty for wanting everything in my garden now. But the truth is, if I went ahead and did everything at once, I would be in debt and I would probably have a bit of garden regret. Start with a few pots, then a raised bed, and then just keep building up on that each year. Don’t try to do everything in one season, you will probably not get much joy out of your garden and the whole thing will be a chore for you.

I think the common theme here is patience! Do things slowly and as you can afford to. Don’t get discouraged if things don’t happen for you right away. Keep trying and celebrate the successes, even if your Facebook friends don’t get as excited as you do about a truck load of manure. And just in case you thought my garden transformed over night, here is a before/after (it took 10 whole years to get it to where it is now – and I have a million things I’d still like to do with it!):

Garden Before

Before: This was the first year in our garden and we’d just pulled up those concrete blocks and dug the first bed.

Garden After

After: No more grass, lots of raised beds and growing space, and new deck, fence, shed, and greenhouse. It took 10 years to get to here!

New gardeners: what are some of your biggest fears or challenges? Experienced gardeners: What tips do you have for the gardener just starting out?

Garden Update: April 2015

Words cannot express how excited I am to be heading back in to the garden for a new season! I’ve got all sorts of plants growing inside of the house (peppers, a few brassicas, marigolds, and I will be starting my tomatoes this weekend!) and I find myself sneaking glances at the back yard whenever I can, imagining it bursting with life and color in just a few short months.

Carrots & Raspberries Garden April 2015

It really doesn’t look like much now, but things are actually starting to grow! I noticed about a week ago that there were some green chives popping up, which led me to do a bit more exploring, and this is when I discovered that the rhubarb was also making an appearance! In addition, buds are on my lilac bushes! This is exciting of course because it means spring is here, but mostly because it is still so early! I have never experienced such a mild winter and early spring in this climate. I know that we will probably see a few more snow falls yet (some small ones in the forecast for today and this weekend) but I can totally deal with that – we are in the home stretch now!

Chives
Chives making an appearance!

I’m usually not doing much in the garden this time of year because it is normally still covered in snow and/or ice. But since we somehow won the lottery this year and it currently has no snow or ice, I decided to do the first round of garbage clean up last week. I’m not talking dead plants or leaves or whatever – I’m talking actual garbage. Candy wrappers, latex gloves, cigarette butts (so, so many), underwear (yes, I found a pair of underwear), among other things. I filled a kitchen sized garbage bag from the front yard alone. There were only a few pieces of garbage in the back yard and I haven’t even tackled the alley yet, but I imagine it will fill another bag. Even though I was just picking up trash, it felt good to get outside in the yard. I’ll do a bit more this next week if the weather wants me to – more garbage pick-up, cleaning out what I left behind in one of the raised beds, raking the tiny bit of front lawn. And if I get really ambitious, I’ll head to the garden centre and buy some bags of manure to add to my raised beds.

Rhubarb

Rhubarb poking its head out!

Are you doing anything in the garden yet?

Starting Pepper Seeds & Seed Starting Tips

I’d planned to write this post a little earlier since lots of people are getting ready to start their seeds about now, but I ran in to a bit of a dilemma when my local Ikea did not have the shelves I wanted in stock. I’d had plans to expand my seed starting operation (more on this later), but unfortunately I needed to resort to stalking the Ikea website until the shelves were back in stock. Finally last week they were available and I made a special trip there to pick them up. In case anyone else is looking to buy these shelves at Ikea, I will explain a very useful tip that I wish I would have known before bursting in to an Ikea fit of rage at home later that evening. Here’s the story: I am very organized when I go to Ikea – I have a list of the things I want that includes name, product number, and location (I really don’t like spending more time than I have to in most big box stores). So that’s exactly what I did – I went in with my detailed list, went directly to the self-serve furniture area and picked up exactly what I needed, assuming the hardware would be in the plastic packages that were dangling from the shelf frames. Nope. Of course, they don’t actually tell you this anywhere or make it at all obvious. And why would I bother actually checking that little dangling package? It’s Ikea, you would think they have their shit together. Also, these shelves do not include assembly instructions, so how are you supposed to even know what you need hardware wise? You don’t. And most people wouldn’t actually notice any of this until they get home and start trying to put their shelves together. Luckily instead of going all the way back to the store, I decided to google “How to put Ikea Ivar shelves together” and stumbled upon this blog post on Making It Lovely which told me where THE HARDWARE WAS HIDING! (and it seems she didn’t know either until a reader commented on her post. Curse you, Ikea!). Anyway, luckily everything is sorted and now I feel like I can write this post properly.

The peppers! Back in January I wrote about the big seed order of 2015 and about a week after that, I sat down and made a seed starting schedule. If you’re new to gardening, you may or may not know that many seeds require to be started indoors several weeks and occasionally several months early. The timing is really dependent on your climate and what you’re planning to grow. I like to grow a lot of peppers, squash, and tomatoes. I usually start the peppers several months early because they will be transferred to my greenhouse in early spring – plus they don’t get leggy if they live inside the house for too long, like tomatoes tend to do. The tomatoes are started about 6-8 weeks before they will be transferred outside (I usually aim for the first week of June because most of the danger of snow is gone – but I live in Alberta, so is the danger ever really gone? Not really). The squash get started about 4 weeks early and go outside around the same time as the tomatoes. Most seed packets will give you a general outline of when seeds should be started indoors or planted directly outdoors, and you can easily find information online on ideal seed starting times for your climate.

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So the first round was getting the peppers started. I had a few pepper plants that I started mid-summer indoors last year that I’ve been keeping indoors – they are not doing great (see photo at bottom of this post). In the late fall they suffered from an infestation of spider mites that I didn’t catch right away and most of the peppers did not survive. The two that did are runts. I have managed to keep them alive and I think being put under the grow lights will do them some good. Aside from the sad peppers I already had growing, I started about 1/2 tray of new pepper seeds. I didn’t bother waiting until I had my shelves set up, I just went ahead and let them grow on the counter (so there are currently 24 pepper plants started right now – all different varieties. Am I insane? Yes.). They have since been moved to the seed starting shelf below.

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Now back to the actual set-up: I’ve expanded my seed starting set up this year using some of the things I wrote about a few weeks ago here. For almost the last 10 years I’ve been using a seed starting greenhouse that my Mom bought for me, which has worked great (I’m still using it, it just isn’t in any of my photos). I highly recommend these types of shelves for people who do not have a ton of storage room as the whole unit breaks down and fits in to a medium sized rubbermaid container in the off-seasons. For my new expanded section, I decided to use these Ivar shelves from Ikea because I could use them in the off-seasons as basement storage. I will also be purchasing another inexpensive shop light from Home Depot, although right now I only have one (it’s all I need right now but I’ll need more in a few weeks when I start more seeds) – and I just used those screw in hooks to hang the light from. The shop lights are adjustable so I can move them up and down as needed. I am also planning on purchasing a couple more heavy duty plant trays from the greenhouse as I’ll need sturdy trays for schlepping plants in and out of the house during the hardening off phase in spring (this means gradually introducing the indoor grown seedlings to the outside world in order to prevent plant shock, which can cause damage and possibly death to your seedlings). Altogether, I will probably spend around $200 this year on expanding my seed starting set up. In addition to that, I also purchased good quality seed starting soil and the seeds – but those costs are fairly minimal. $200+ is a good chunk of change to shell out at once, but for someone that grows as many plants as I do from seed, it is much, much cheaper than purchasing young plants from the garden centre. And if I think of the cost spread out over many future growing seasons, it isn’t that much. I’ve been wanting to expand the set-up for a few years because I’m finding myself growing more and more plants from seed, but I just didn’t really want to spend the money. Now that almost everything is set up, I don’t know why I just didn’t go ahead and do it earlier. Another incentive for expanding the seed growing operation this year was dining room space. Honestly, we do not use this room for its intended purpose (I can count on two fingers the amount of times we’ve eaten at our dining room table this year) – it is my sewing/crafting area and for a few months a year it also acts as my seed starting area. So in order to continue using it for my crafty projects, I need to ensure the seedlings are contained to one area. It doesn’t look like I’m using much of the shelving right now, but in a couple of months when everything is bigger and has been transferred to larger growing containers, it will look like a jungle.

So now that I’ve talked about the expanded seed starting operation, I wanted to touch on some of my go-to seed starting tips. Seed starting is very easy and I really love taking care of the young seedlings and watching them grow. I never get tired of seeing the first plants pushing their way out of the soil.

Seed Starting Tips
1. Make a list of all of your seeds that need to be started early indoors. This may include tomatoes, peppers, squash, flowers, herbs, etc. Your seed packets will have recommendations on indoor seed starting times (if your seed packets only have a “direct sow” date, you can plant these directly in the ground in the spring, they do not need to be started early indoors). Like I mentioned above, you can easily search online for ideal seed starting times for your climate. I am in US zone 3, so most of my seeds are started in April and May (my last frost date is May 23rd, but I usually push it back to June 1st for my own peace of mind for my delicate plants like tomatoes and squash). After I’ve determined which plants need to be started indoors, I usually make a seed starting calendar. It doesn’t have to be anything too fancy, I have a list of chronological dates with all the seeds I need to start on that date listed underneath.
2. Put together a dedicated seed starting area and gather your seed starting supplies – here are some of the things you might want to get for your set-up.
3. The most important things to remember are good soil, consistent water, heat, and airflow. Starting seeds in a basement works, but you need to provide adequate lighting and heat (this is where those shop lights and heating mats come in handy). Seedlings do not like to have dry soil, but they also do not like wet soil. Think about how a wringed out sponge feels and that’s what you want your soil to be like. I usually use a misting bottle initially and mist my soil a couple of times a day until the seedlings appear, and then I use a watering can with a very skinny spout that is easy to control. Airflow is important because it promotes strong stems and roots, and also prevents mold and other diseases caused by poor airflow and high humidity. When my seedlings get a little bigger, I like to set up my table fan nearby. Remember that your plants will be exposed to wind when they finally make it outdoors, so you want them to be prepared with strong roots (you know how it feels to jump in to a swimming pool after you’ve simmered in the hot tub? Prepare your seedlings indoors before bringing them in to the outside world, the last thing you want is for their seedling bodies to go in to hot tub/pool shock).
4. Always label your starts with name and date planted. You may think you’ll remember what you planted in which container, but lots of seedlings look exactly the same, so save yourself the frustration later and label everything. I like to also make a little note on my tomatoes on what type they are (dwarf, tumbling, determinate, indeterminate so I don’t have to refer to the packets later when mapping out where I will be planting them outdoors).
5. When your seedlings outgrow their containers, transplant them in to larger containers. You don’t want your plant’s roots to become suffocated. Alternatively you can start your plants in larger containers to begin with, which is what I like to do with my tomatoes and squash which grow large fairly quickly.
6. How about fertilizers? I actually don’t fertilize my seedlings at all. The starting soil that I use has a natural slow release fertilizer in it already, so there is no need for me. I’ve used starting soils without this as well and it has been fine. I don’t like my seedlings to grow too leggy or spindly in their containers while they are living indoors, so it works for me to go without the additional fertilizers. Once everything gets moved outdoors for the season, they get a good douse of fish fertilizer.
7. These are your babies – talk to them and pet them. I know it sounds weird and if you didn’t think I was nuts before, you do now. I always talk to my seedlings because I’m crazy and I talk to everything, but giving them a light brush with your hand has a similar effect as the fan – it helps them to grow strong roots that will help them when the hardening off adventure begins. You don’t actually need to talk to your plants, I’m just insane. Or am I?

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So now here is the first round of seeds started, it’s so great having everything set up again because it means spring is coming! I’m sure I’ll be complaining about plants taking over my house in no time, but for now I will enjoy it. Have you started any seeds yet?

Peppers Peppers Peppers

If you’ve been reading my blog for a little while, you’ll know that I am fairly new to pepper growing. In fact, I wasn’t particularly fond of peppers in any form until I was in my 20’s (I was one of those picky eater children, sorry Mom and Dad). Thankfully I smartened up and started eating peppers, even becoming obsessed with them.

I only started growing peppers a few years ago when I bought a jalapeno plant one spring from the garden centre. I planted it in my raised bed and got a pepper (or maybe two) from it. Quite sad, but that little ounce of success excited me. I decided the next year to try growing peppers from seed. It was a failure. Then the next year we built a little greenhouse in our backyard with the help of my Dad. I’d gotten a late start to my garden that year so the peppers didn’t grow as I’d hoped they would. But still, I wasn’t discouraged. Last year I started my peppers quite early indoors and then transferred them out to the greenhouse that spring. It was a huge success. So of course this year I decided I should go insane with pepper plants and here we are now.

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I ordered all of my pepper seeds at the beginning of January because I knew that I wanted to start them indoors as soon as we returned from our trip to California. I am growing a wide variety of peppers, but mostly hot peppers. I like the milder hot peppers (with a little bit of a kick – not too much!), but my husband loves the really hot peppers, so I’ve selected a few of those just for him (we have plans to video tape the taste testing of the really hot peppers!)

Here is the full 2015 pepper growing list:

Sweet Peppers

Tequilla Sunrise – I chose this one because I liked the coloring on it, but also they are apparently early ripeners which is a huge plus in my books.
Oda – I definitely chose this for its purple color!
Mini Chocolate Bell – I’m a sucker for the miniature sweet peppers.
Mini Yellow Bell – Same as above!
Sweet Cherry Red – I grew this one last year and really loved the flavor. Although it isn’t a prolific producer, I still think it is worth growing at least one plant.

Hot Peppers

Italian Pepperoncini – These guys are supposed to be great for canning and come with just a little bit of heat.
Fish – I actually read an article on Garden Betty about this variety and immediately added it to my wish list. I’m interested to see how similar it will be to her description since I am in a completely opposite growing climate.
Pimiento De Padron – Eating these is apparently a game of Russian roulette as some are hot and some are not. With that description, how could I not try them?! I live on the wild side.
Chocolate Habanero – I discovered last year that I love love LOVE habanero peppers. So of course I had to purchase every different habanero pepper seeds I could find.
Lemon Drop – These small yellow peppers are supposed to be fairly mild but with a citrus-y flavor. Sounds delicious. Banana – This one I’m growing from saved seeds that I acquired from a pepper I purchased at the farmer’s market. I’m interested to see if the seeds will even germinate. Banana peppers are pretty mild as far as hot peppers go and are excellent for canning.
Black Hungarian – These ones are supposedly a bit rare and look pretty much exactly the same as a small black jalapeno pepper. They are supposed to be mildly hot but very flavorful. I have fresh salsa in mind for these ones.
Filius Blue – I wasn’t totally wild about these last year and actually found them to be very weak. But I did love the plant itself as an ornamental and it doesn’t hurt to grow this one again – who knows, the flavor may be completely different this year.
Joe E Parker – I did grow this one last year as well and enjoyed it eaten raw – it really wasn’t a hot pepper at all and I feel like I should be categorizing it more under the sweet peppers, but maybe it will be a bit hotter this year so I’ll keep it under this category for now.
Habanero – By far my favorite hot pepper that I grew last year.
Pasillo Bajio – Another one I grew last year. I really liked the flavor, but it wasn’t hot at all so kind of in the same category at the Joe E Parker.
Mustard Habanero – I need to grow all the habaneros.
Jalapeno – The most common hot pepper, but I do love jalapenos in fresh salsa and on tacos.
Chinese 5 Color – I grew this one last year and loved it especially for the multi-colored peppers.
Red Cap Mushroom – I bought the package of these from the Stony Plain Urban Homesteading Store and had a good conversation with someone there about our mutual love for hot peppers. I’m most intrigued by the shape of these guys. These are supposed to be ideal for pickling.
Trinidad Scorpion – This is one of the hottest peppers in the world. Plus the name is total bad-ass. I am still debating whether or not I will actually try the really hot peppers in fear that I will burn all of my taste buds off, but we’ll see.
Bhut Jolokia – More commonly known as the Ghost Pepper, I am very excited to grow this one. If you want to see something totally messed up, watch this.
Scotch Bonnet – This is another really hot pepper but it is not supposed to be as bad as the 2 previous life destroyers. I might try it, we’ll see.

Are you trying any new peppers this year? What are some of your favorites?

Seed sources: Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, Seed Savers Exchange, West Coast Seeds, Urban Harvest (I am not affiliated with any of these companies, I am just a huge fan and supporter of the work they do preserving non GMO, rare, and heirloom variety seeds)

My Favorite Seed Starting Supplies

It’s that time of year again – that time where I drag out the shelves, lights, trays, dirt, seeds, etc. and start the planting process! Also known as the time of year my husband resents me the most (maybe not really). But that nice clean space in our dining room that once existed has now been claimed by a huge mess of plants and bright lights. I’ve greatly expanded my seed starting operation over the last couple of years, mainly to save some money (I’ll show you my set up in a few weeks). I grow a lot of plants and if I were to buy them all at the nursery, I would be broke. The initial investment can be a bit, mainly the shelves and the lights, but after that the only real expense will be soil and seeds, which is fairly minimal. I decided to put together an inspiration board of all of my favorite seed starting supplies in anticipation of starting my seeds in the next couple of weeks:

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1. Seed Markers $9.10 – Kaufmann Merchantile – Essential for writing down what seed you’ve planted and the date you planted it. When planting tomatoes, I also make note whether or not is in indeterminate (i) or determinate (d) so I know which ones to transplant directly into pots in the spring. I like the wood markers because they will eventually break down in the compost but I also don’t mind using the plastic ones as they can be cleaned and re-used.

2. Grow Light $39.97 – Home Depot – I purchased an inexpensive shop light a few years ago and it works great – just make sure the bulbs you purchase are daylight bulbs – I asked an employee for help picking the right bulbs. The best part of these lights is that the height is adjustable for various growing stages and if you use the wooden shelves, you can easy screw in a few of those little hooks for ease of light hanging.

3. Notebooks $14.00 – Rifle Paper Co – I keep a notebook of seed starting schedules, when things were transplanted into larger pots, etc. It is great to reference back the next year instead of re-inventing the wheel every year.

4. Heating Mat $42.15 – Amazon.ca – Perfect for getting seeds like peppers and tomatoes to germinate quickly. I only keep my heating mat on until all of the seeds have germinated and then it goes back in to storage (it fits inside of my seedling trays so it isn’t take up any additional storage space to have it).

5. Seed Starting Mix $5.95 – Good quality seed starting mixture is essential. I don’t buy this specific brand, but I buy a locally made product from the nursery. I always underestimate how much I will actually need and usually end up having to make multiple visits to the nursery to stock up.

6. Pot Maker $19.57 – Kaufmann Merchantile – I have a similar one from Lee Valley and it is not an essential, but it is very fun to use and is a good reuse for newspaper you would otherwise throw in the recycle bin. Perfect for starting flower seeds that you will directly transplant into the garden.

7. Seeds – Happy Cat Farms – Obviously you need seeds, but why not try out something new that you’ve never planted before. This year I am trying out cow peas, orach, shiso, and fava beans!

8. Seedling Trays $5.95 – Veseys – I love these trays because they are very space efficient, inexpensive and are re-useable – and they stack for easy storage when not in use.

9. Plant Tray $9.95 – The garden centre sells a lot of flimsy plastic trays which I hate – I need something sturdy that will hold up to being brought inside and outside during the hardening off stage. Last year I finally invested in a good quality tray with taller sides that is made from a much sturdier plastic and I can’t express how much easier it has made that aspect of the spring for me.

10. Shelf $109.00 – Ikea – I can quickly become surrounded by seedlings as it nears planting time and being able to keep things in layers is so much less chaotic. Plus I can actually use these shelves in my basement for storage in the off-season (having things do double duty in my smallish house is essential!).

Do you start seeds in the winter time? What are some of your favorite seed starting supplies? I’d love to hear any feedback!