A blog experiment by Brad Mills.


Starting seeds

Yesterday was snowy, probably — hopefully — one of the last snowy days of the season, if not the last. I spent the evening starting seeds for seventeen plants — peppers, tomatoes, tomatillos, and eggplants. In about seven weeks, they should all be ready to go in the ground. I might expand this selection of early starters in the next day or so. Everything is planted in homemade pots filled with seed starter mix and waiting for the next phase.

Homemade pots The homemade pots are basically toilet paper tubes cut in half and folded in to close off the bottom. Each tube makes two pots. You can do the same thing with paper towel tubes and get five pots. They don't need to be perfectly sealed off on the bottom, but they will leak so there needs to be some way to catch the water. In my case I've got them all inside an old food takeout box. All seventeen of them fit inside with just a little room to spare.

So I'm basically starting vegetables in containers which would otherwise end up in the garbage. I think that's pretty cool. They're not going to be in these homemade pots for long, maybe two weeks at the most... with the peppers staying a little longer because they grow slower.

A friend of mine, upon learning I tended to a small garden every year, quipped that it had a negligible effect on the food chain and the planet — and asked why I bothered at all. Plenty of reasons.

Let me start off by saying I think everyone should grow at least some of their own food. Not for the sake of putting a dent in the grocery bill, necessarily, nor for the sake of it being all green and earthy — though with a large enough crop, both those goals can indeed be accomplished. I don't have the space or the time to turn this into a self-sufficiency exercise, though, so I try not to think of it in those terms. But I do enjoy knowing some of the things I eat come from my own backyard.

So, I told him I knew exactly where the food came from, and in fact, I knew the grower extremely well (Zen / philosophical ramifications aside). I knew the growing methods he used, and I was comfortable with them. The food was both conveniently located and inexpensive. And, it tasted good.

I didn't get any pushback from this friend, though he confessed he made the comment more as a devil's advocate than anything else. Which I already knew — he enjoys that kind of thing. In turn, I think he knew I'd have some pretty decent reasons and not the usual "it's good for the earth" stuff.

My seeds all come from Southern Exposure, Victory Seeds, and to a lesser degree, Burpee. They all act the way you'd expect seeds to act — plant them and they grow. It's really not hard at all, and it can start from the humblest beginnings... homemade pots made from old toilet paper tubes, paper towel tubes, and food containers, society's refuse. Some of them will probably be sprouting by the end of the week.

The garden has been kind of lackluster the last few years, some of this attributable to me, some to weather, and some to circumstances. I'm going to try not to turn this into a daily or weekly plant update, but I'm planning to give it a nice solid push this year. It all starts with the seeds, so it looks like we're off to the races.

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