If you are like me, you have been REALLY enjoying thumbing through seed catalogs on those cold Winter days with a pot of something warm bubbling on the stove top. However, it is time to stop dreaming and start doing!
My favorite seed companies this year are: Baker Creek Heirloom seeds (for unusual varieties) and Willhite seed co. (for seeds good for growing in Texas) Last year I ordered from Seeds Now and was very happy with their small 99. cent starter packs, good for small gardens or for trying out a new variety. Also, if you sign up for their emails, they advertise lots of specials; everything from free shipping to 20% off of say, onions. (No I don’t get a kickback from any of these companies yet;)
For you gardeners who are just getting started with your first gardens, here are the steps I take to decide what I want to order:
- Make a list of favorite fruits and veggies my family likes to eat. For instance my little boy loves cherry tomatoes and cantaloupe melons!
- Draw out a garden plan/map and see what I have room for. When I was a newbie gardener I planted everything way too close together because I had NO idea how big those plants would get. This is where the community garden really helped me out. I learned so much that first year by walking around and sizing up all those different types of veggies. My best advice is leave more space then you think you will need this year. Then after the gardening season is in full swing visit a community garden near you throughout the year. If you can, get someone to walk you around; gardeners LOVE to show off their veggies. You will make their day and learn a lot in the process.
- Order my seeds and try to be patient while waiting for them to arrive!
Favorite tomato varieties for Dallas: While I guarantee my tomato crop with Hybrid plants of Super Fantastic and sweet 100(cherry) and Juliet(cherry roma) I always try an heirloom variety every year. Sadly, I haven’t found one I like yet. If you have found a heirloom tomato seed that does well in this area then let me know which one in the comments, please.
I am trying Porters, Porters improved(cherry) and Homestead 24 heirloom tomatoes this year. Maybe this will be the year I find my heirloom!
Some other varieties I am excited about trying this year are: Kajari melon, Carribbean Red Habanero and Ajvarski roasting peppers.
What new and exciting variety are you trying this year? Scroll down and leave it in the comments. I love hearing from ya’ll!
Once I get my coveted seed packets, I make a plan for getting them started. Here are the steps to take to get your garden started:
- Find the local average last freeze date for your area. You can find that here. Warning: This is an average date compiled from past year’s temperatures. There is a good chance you might still get a killing freeze after that date. Especially if you live in Dallas Texas like I do. (Ask me about the freak snow storm in 2015 or the damaging hail storm of 2016) So what is a gardener to do?
- Prepare to plant early and protect: Save those empty milk cartons with lids on or score as many 3-5 gallon buckets from your local deli. More about that in a later post.
- Count back on the calendar 4-8wks before your last average freeze date; this is the date you will want to start your seeds. (Scroll down to see what I am planting in Dallas now in mid-January)
- Buy a 4ft shop light(with a plug-in cord, not hardwired for electricity) and 2 flourescent daylight spectrum bulbs. You can get very expensive here with special grow bulbs or not, depending on how much you have to spend. I can usually take mine outside to soak up some of that lovely Texas sunshine during the day so I can go relatively cheap.
- Find or buy a place to hang your light from. I am hanging my light under my china hutch beside my living room table. Again, you can go cheap or set up a whole grow cabinet complete with heating mats and mylar reflective sheeting around it. I think you know by now which way I am going with;)
- Buy or scrounge something together to plant your seeds in. This year I bought a Jiffy Greenhouse professional seed starting planter because anything with the word professional in it guarantees success. Hee hee, kidding. While I have tried anything from toilet paper rolls to yogurt containers, this new system makes the most efficient use of space, includes a tray to water in and a fitted top to put over the whole thing. You can also reuse the plastic tray every year when you buy the peat planting pellet refills. I will let you know how I like it after I grow all my wonderful little beauties!(link at the bottom for grow kits)
If you are type that needs to have the incentive of beautiful little plants growing to actually create your first garden bed, then see how I created my raised beds and the soil mix put in them here.
If you would like to see a video of how I planned out my garden for success then click here.
For you neighbors in Dallas; it is time to start tomatoes, peppers and your brassicas(cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussel sprouts and more see a complete list here.) All from seed indoors.
HAPPY SEED STARTING! CAN’T WAIT FOR SPRING!
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