The trays have come out of the basement, the mini greenhouse assembled and installed in the kitchen window, the potting mix mixed, and the seeds planted!
Seeding decisions this season were based on a combination of trial and error from last year, the seeds that were still kicking around from last season, and an attempt at effective time management for what is shaping up to be a busy spring!
What this means is, I decided not to attempt tomatoes and peppers with which I had little success last year, and which require a lot of extra lovin' in order to thrive in our climate. I decided instead to focus on the things that thrived in my mountain garden last year, that were the tastiest, most versatile and most attractive.
Herbs and edible flowers! I seeded nearly 20 different varieties :
Calendula (beautiful, abundant, good in salads, great as a medicinal for skin, dried or tinctured or oiled), Marigold (edible, colourful and a great insect and pest deterrent in the garden), Prairie Coneflower (tap root bringing up nutrients, and highly medicinal as a pain reliever and fever-reducer...used by plains Indians dried as a medicinal tea), Hyssop (tall purple flowers, anise flavoured, great in teas, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and a sacred plant in Judaism), Borage (delicious, honey-suckle flowers great in salads, great companion plant for legumes and brassicas), Evening Primrose (tall, robust with yellow flowers, shoots and stems can be eaten, but I dried the whole plant at the end of the season and used in teas - lots of medicinal uses! astringent, sedative, anti-asthmatic)...
and a bunch of culinary herbs: cilantro, korean mint, spearmint, tarragon, thyme, oregano, several different kinds of parsley, lemon bergamot, lemon balm and dill. mmmmmm!
For lots of info on culinary and medicinal uses of herbs, and info on how to grow them, check out:
As a potting mix, I followed (and then adapted) a recipe from Eliot Coleman's 'The New Organic Grower':
3 buckets brown peat
1/2 cup lime
2 buckets coarse sand or perlite
3 cups base fertilizer
1 bucket soil
2 buckets compost
1) The function of peat in the mix is to absorb and retain moisture, and it's also a source of nitrogen. But it's a bit acidic, and so the recipe calls for lime to balance the pH.
Home Hardware didn't have peat moss, and so I discovered Cocout Coir - a byproduct of the coconut industry, it's just the otherwise unused husks. The label on the product suggested it's more sustainable than peat (it takes AGES for peat bogs to re-grow as we over-harvest them), but I squirm a little bit at the distance that it travels to arrive in the rocky mountains, just about as far away from Coconut habitat as possible. Anyways, I used it. It's pH neutral, so I didn't add the lime.
2) I used sand as it's abundantly available here, and I didn't have to buy it.
3)Base fertilizer: (from Coleman: Blood Meal for nitrogen, Colloidal Phosphate, Greensand as a source of broad-spectrum micro-nutrients) ... I used Blood and Bone Meal for both nitrogen and phosphate, and Kelp meal instead of Greensand because I happened to have some and Coleman suggests this serves the same purpose
5) I substituted worm castings for compost, again because I had some from my worm bin. The more composted the better as unripe compost or castings can burn the seedlings.
And lastly, but very importantly, I coordinated my seeding with the moon cycle to optimize production! So I seeded on March 23rd in a Scorpio Moon, and will wait till April 1st to do the rest of my herb and veggie seeding in the last of the Pisces Moon .
I followed the recommendations of this calendar that I found online:
For info on the how's and why's of lunar planting: