It's time for some Tea Talk In The Garden! So excited to see you again. While I'd like to be drinking iced tea, my tea is still hot due to the persistent blustery and bitter weather lately. Sit down, grab yourself a cup and join in this monthly virtual letter exchange between Jen & myself. We are so excited to have you as a guest at this spring garden party. Even if we all are still hunkered down inside, glaring at the snow slowly melting out the window. Remember to join in on our garden themed gab in the comment section below!
Click here or on the postcard to read Jen's letter to me.
As I write to you today sipping on my tea, the rain is coming down in buckets outside. It is cold with an unpleasant mix of mud and snow on the ground. Worst of all, the flowers have drooped and wilted from the past few days of freezing temperatures. It is definitely not the day to head outside and plant. That isn't going to stop me from gardening though! Since I last talked to you, I've purchased some seed starting supplies and have a nice little setup now! More about that later.
So glad you were able to attend some spring gardening shows! I haven't attended any yet, but am hoping to go to some later on this summer. I really love the rustic garden style you mentioned. Whenever I go thrifting, I look for some old rustic galvanized tubs. I also really enjoy reclaimed wood pieces. Things like that really add the charm to any garden! I've never heard of a milk crate veggie garden, but it sounds really cool. I'm definitely looking that up on Pinterest! I'm hoping to reclaim a few old things for garden decor this year like my grandparents wooden step ladder and some old planters.
Today I sat down and began planting some of my tomato and pepper seeds! I planted two different varieties of each. Bren was kind enough to share Orange Blaze pepper seeds and Chef's Choice tomato seeds that were part of a #gardenchat giveaway. I also planted California Wonder peppers and Better Bush tomatoes from my Botanical Interests deluxe garden gift box thanks to Handy Helen. Figured they all have to be lucky seeds right? I've configured a temporary seed starting set up until I purchase a shelving unit. Right now, they are on a wooden table. I'm using a heat mat for some of my seeds as well as a grow light for others to help with propagation. Pictured here are some pepper seeds I planted.
The first things I purchased for seed starting were some Jiffy starter trays. I opted for the peat pot biodegradable version so I will disturb the plant as little as possible when transplanting them. I also find the bigger cells easier to plant in. It's just my personal preference, but since I am no expert, the easier the better. I filled each of my trays with Espoma organic seed starter potting mix. I've used this in the past and had some good success with it.
I wanted to experiment and give my seeds a little push with a heat mat as well as a grow light. I know that germination requires heat, especially with seeds like peppers. Here in zone 6a, our growing season is so short that it's best to give the plants a head start indoors first. I opted for a Hydrofarm Seedling Heat Mat that is 20" x 20". It is big enough to fit a tray comfortably with a little extra room. Most people recommend buying a thermometer for your heat mat, so I will definitely look into that for the future. Right now, I'm testing the waters and observing how it performs. After my peppers were all planted and resting cozy on the warm mat, I decided to do some research on starting tomatoes from seed. I've read how they enjoy an abundance of light, and providing them with a grow light can prevent them from becoming leggy. I went with the Hydrofarm Jump Start 2' T5 Grow Light Fixture. This includes the fixture, stand and tube. It looked easy to set up and perfect for a beginner like me. It was simple to set up, and I'm happy with it's performance so far.
Now my seeds are sitting all snug surrounded by warmth and light. Let the waiting begin! I'm curious to see how they do with my new upgraded seed starting setup. One thing I can tell you for sure is the environment in here is a whole lot different than what's going on outdoors. Even though it is supposedly spring and we are now getting into April, it doesn't seem like it one bit! I feel like this is one long April Fools joke New England is playing on us. I'm really starting to worry for the plants that were budding and sprouting. My daylilies were looking rather lovely and now they are resembling a down trodden Eeyore. My daffodils were just about to bloom right before the snow hit. I'm sad to say I may have missed the enjoyment of watching them bloom this year. I'm really hoping the weather changes for the better soon and all of the flowers perk up again! I saw the photos you shared of the daffodils blooming in your yard. They look absolutely stunning! You did a great job planting last fall, and I'm happy it's paying off for you now. Your seeds are also looking fabulous. I love how you reused salad containers to start your seeds. That's totally brilliant! I'm sure they are always handy with, Max, your adorable bunny around munching on fresh greens! Plus, the more of them you need for seed starting, the better it is for him.
As for the winter garden, it's been doing great. Now that we have had this late hard freeze, I'm nervous to see the damage it has, and will cause. It can really mess with established plants no matter what kind of protection it has! I'm still waiting on planting more pea, potato and other cold weather crops because of the bizarre temperatures lately. I'm thinking next week may be the right time. I'm keeping the faith that bright, sunny days are on it's way! I'd love an update on all of your seedlings. I can't wait to see all those flowers once they bloom. As soon as the first 60 degree day arrives, I will be one of those crazy ladies at my local garden center running around with two pallets full of plants yelling "FINALLY, FINALLY, MOVE OUT OF MY WAY!" Okay, well maybe not but I will be shouting that in my head. I'm so excited to get back out in the garden again.
Can't wait to talk soon!
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