Build Your Own Simple Seed Starting Shelves

Build Your Own Simple Seed Starting Shelves with room for up to 576 seedlings under the grow lights. Sturdy, moveable and easy enough for a weekend project

Each year I start several hundred vegetable, herb and flower seedlings.  Almost all of them begin on the simple seed starting shelves my husband built over 15 years ago. I wasn’t blogging then (I started that around five years ago), so I didn’t snap any photos. Heck, I didn’t even have a digital camera back then.  Photos or no photos, these indoor planting shelves have served me well, and are fairly inexpensive to make.

The lights are suspended from chains on hooks, so they can easily be adjusted up or down.  Mounting casters on the bottom makes it a snap to move – even from one house to another.  If you use standard 22″x11″ nursery trays with 72 cells per tray, there’s room for 576 seedlings under the grow lights, plus an extra 288 seedlings on the top shelf, if you have room for it in your greenhouse, sun room or very well lit room.  Cross supports and water proof paint make it sturdy and durable.  I pair it up with a fan on a timer, to help keep the seedlings sturdy, and I also use a timer to turn the grow lights off at night.  Once the seedlings get bigger, they graduate to the greenhouse or cold frame, and then are hardened off (gently exposed to the elements over several days) and planted out into the garden. [Read more…]

When Should I Start My Seeds? Printable seed starting calendar

When Should I Start My Seeds?  Seed starting tips and printable seed starting calendar. #seedstarting

I get quite a few new gardeners asking me, “When should I start my seeds?”  It really depends on where you are and what you are planning to grow.  Thankfully, most seed companies will label the packets with basic growing information.  If you’re using your own saved seed or happen to find a package that’s not labeled, it’s helpful to have a simple guide to help you plan.  One of the best things about a planting schedule is that you get to spread your planting out so you don’t feel rushed.  When you try to cram too much to do in too little time, it doesn’t get done properly.  Gardening is supposed to help relieve stress, not cause it.  In this article I’ll share my seed starting schedule, organization strategies and printable indoor seed starting and outdoor seed sowing charts to help you get organized, too. [Read more…]

Simple Record Keeping for the Garden with Printable Seed Starting Chart

Simple Record Keeping Tips for the Garden with Printable Seed Starting Chart

Those who’ve been gardening for a while know that you should rotate your crops, and keep track of your successes and failures to make improvements in the future.  I also plant in garden “families”, roughly along the lines of those described in the book “Great Garden Companions“, so I like to make sure we don’t end up with the garden version of the Hatfields and McCoys.  Here are some of my favorite techniques for simple record keeping for the garden. [Read more…]

New to Gardening – Start Here – 10 Tips for Beginning Gardeners

10 Tips for Beginning Gardeners- New to Gardening - Start Here @ Common Sense Homesteading

You Can Grow Your Own Food – No Matter Where You Live

I’m not saying it’s easy, but nearly everyone can grow something. From sprouts in the kitchen and herbs in a window, to a sprawling acre-plus country market garden, I would argue that growing your own food in any form counts as gardening.  You just need to decide what works for you – where you are with what you have. [Read more…]

Tomato Mania – Seed Starting Basics, Transplanting and Troubleshooting

Tomato Mania - Seed Starting Basics, Transplanting and Troubleshooting

I started my tomato seeds back in March, but I’ll do a quick recap here.  I like to use a mix of potting soil and worm castings (3:1 ratio), in individual cell packs.  (I save those black plastic containers that you get plants in from the greenhouse.)  As a rule of thumb, you want to plant seeds roughly three times as deep as the seed is wide, so tiny seeds stay on or near the surface, and larger seeds go a little deeper.  You can do a germination test or pre-sprout the tomato seeds in a coffee filter, but I usually don’t bother.  (Pre-sprouting is discussed in more detail in the comments of Early Greens from the Garden.)  You may want to do a quick soil test on your potting mix before you start, as many on the market are lacking in key nutrients and/or overloaded with other nutrients.  I like to mark my seeds using popsicle sticks broken in half.  I write the name of the variety on both sides of the stick with a ball point pen (in case it gets it gets wet, which it will, generally one side remains readable).  The popsicle sticks are cheap and reasonably durable, and also compostable. [Read more…]