Gardening in the Winter

I love being able to “garden” in the middle of winter!   While it may be indoors, and on a much smaller scale than what takes place out in my main garden, winter seed-sowing brings just as much joy to my life as outdoor spring planting does (especially since I get to do it in the comfort of my perfectly toasty, 75-degree home!)

 

These are Early Jersey Wakefield cabbage, my favorite variety for their ease of growing, early harvesting, sweet and flavorful taste, and beauty in the garden.

This year, I’m using Jiffy products for seed starting.  I love these “all in one” containers that make seed starting a happy occasion, rather than a chore.  All I have to do is fill the bottom of the container with water, wait for the pellets to absorb it, plant the seeds, cover with the transparent plastic cover, and wait for the seedlings to emerge.  Nothing could be simpler — and I’m all about simple when it comes to starting seeds!

What I love about these Jiffy seed starting kits is the way that they handle water.  In the past, I’ve lost a lot of seedlings to damping off (due to over-hydration), or drying up (due to under-hydration).  I don’t think I’m going to have that problem this year, as this system makes it much easier to control watering.

I’ve got a head start on most of the cool weather crops with this first planting:  broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, onion, and peppers (which are not really cool weather plants, but seeds can still be started indoors in our area at this time of year).

At the end of January, I’ll be starting the seeds of annual herbs, more onions, garlic, spinach, more peppers, and tomatoes.

The main reason for starting my own seedlings is that it is much more economical than purchasing transplants at the nursery, or local hardware store.  Even if I’m not planting a lot of a certain variety (like eggplants, a certain tomato, or spaghetti squash), if I’m careful to save the seed in a cool, dark place, I can usually get three to four years worth of good germination from that one packet, before I need to purchase another one.  Also, I can re-use the tops and bottoms of the Jiffy kits, from year to year, leaving me only to replace the growing pellets.

I realize that there are cheaper ways to start my own seeds, but time is precious to me right now, and with all of the cooking, cleaning, teaching, blogging, and other things I’ve got going on in my life, I’m willing to pay a little more in this area so that I at least have a little  time to relax at the end of the day!

Another reason I prefer to sow my own seed is that I get to grow varieties that just can’t be found in my local stores — heirloom seeds that have been handed down over the centuries, that have great histories,  and come from all around the world.  My favorite places to order seeds from are: Baker Creek, Bountiful Gardens, and Southern Exposure.  I love what these companies are dedicated to preserving!

I also think home-grown seedlings are much healthier and perform better in the garden than their store-bought counterparts, but that’s just my opinion, and you’re welcome to disagree.

So, what about you?  Are you a seed-sower, or do you prefer to purchase ready-to-go transplants?  If you’ve never done it before, why not go out and purchase a small Jiffy starter kit and some seed and start “gardening in the winter” right along with me?

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