It took me a while to figure out a solution to the How Am I Going To Raise Seedlings Without The Grandkid(s) And The Cat Killing Them Before The Garden Is Ready? dilemma. From past experience when my own kids were young, I know little kids and sprouting seeds do not a good combination make. Oh, it's educational for the kids, sure, but it's giving the seeds a death sentence because inquisitive little fingers just have to poke and pull and touch the fragile little plants that emerge from the soil. When my own kids were little, my garden was much smaller (we only lived on about an acre and a half then, with a 20' x 30' garden) and I always resorted to buying my tomatoes and peppers as seedlings ready to transplant because any seed I started in the house inevitably got massacred before the weather outside got warm enough to move the young plants out to the garden.
I could clean out enough floor space (I think) for my seed trays in the study; the one room in the entire house that grandkids don't have access too because it is blocked off by a baby gate for the protection of our computer, printer, photo albums, books, etc. But that didn't solve the problem of the cat. . .
I knew the Yarn Thief would have a heyday digging in the little pots of soil and would more than likely feel the need to taste and/or roll around on any seedlings that managed to emerge. Another death sentence for my seeds.
I confess, I pondered this twin challenge for several weeks before hitting on the solution. Honestly, the solution kind of smacked me in the face via an email from the local farm supply/feed store. That email had a sale ad attached, and front page center of the sale ad was a 4-shelf mini-greenhouse for about 30% off the regular price.
So I bought one. And, in hindsight a week after the sale ended, I should have bought more than one. Ah well. Live and learn. And put mini-greenhouse #2 on my wish list (aka the list I give my parents when they ask what I would like for my birthday or Christmas) for next year.
Nearly as tall as I am, with four shelves, and ensconced in a zippered plastic case, my newly acquired mini-greenhouse is impenetrable to the Yarn Thief. Erected in the study (albeit, blocking one book shelf), it is also out of the reach of K3 and Toad (who has recently become somewhat mobile at 8 months). The manufacturer had intended it for use out of doors, on a deck or patio, but it works well in my study--I put some cardboard and an old beach towel (apparently 20yo and 17yo daughters no longer want a Big Bird beach towel) underneath it to catch any condensation that might occur.
I planted my first seeds, six varieties of tomatoes, last Tuesday. I planted my second batch of seeds, 13 varieties of peppers and three kinds of flowers, yesterday. This morning, the tomatoes began to show up as delicate green sprouts.
Batch three to be seeded (tomorrow?) will be the watermelons and the 'early' broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower. Most of the brassicas will be direct seeded in the garden, as I seem to have better success with that than with transplants, but I do like to have some seedlings to set out in May in the hopes that those will be ready to eat a bit sooner than the rest.
For the curious, here are what kinds I planted, and where from:
- Federle (my favorite for paste/sauce) from Seed Saver's Exchange
- Roma (my 'backup' for paste/sauce) from Totally Tomatoes
- Marglobe (new to me this year for fresh eating--mmm tomato slabs on just about everything!) from Annie's Heirloom Seeds
- St. Pierre (also new to me, for canning) from Annie's Heirloom Seeds
- Rutgers (for canning) from Baker Creek
- Homestead (for canning) from Totally Tomatoes
- Peppers--I should say I am doing a pepper experiment this year and trying lots of new varieties
- Serrano (hot) from Annie's Heirloom Seeds
- Habanero (hot) from Annie's Heirloom Seeds
- Ancho (mildly hot--for stuffing) from Annie's Heirloom Seeds
- Jalapeno M (supposedly the standard for making into chipotles) from Annie's Heirloom Seeds
- Early Jalapeno (poppers, canning, and in my salsa) from Annie's Heirloom Seeds
- California Wonder (bell, for fresh eating and dicing & freezing) old seed from NK
- Wisconsin Lakes (a red bell, for fresh eating and dicing & freezing, ) from Seed Saver's
- Guajillo (for drying to make chili powder) from Annie's Heirloom Seeds
- Corno di Toro Giallo (Italian sweet pepper for cooking fresh) from Annie's Heirloom Seeds
- Sweet Banana (for pickling) from Annie's Heirloom Seeds
- Topepo Rosso (fresh eating or dry to make paprika) from Annie's Heirloom Seeds
- Bull Nose (red bell, for fresh eating and also for dicing & freezing) from Annie's Heirloom Seeds
- Alma Paprkia (for drying and making paprika) from Seed Saver's
- Marigolds (for interplanting w/my tomatoes to repel tomato worms) from NK
- Blue Balloon Flower (for garden edging to draw pollinators) from Fedco Seeds
- Four O'clocks (for the shadier flowerbed behind my house--totally sentimental because when I was a little girl my maternal grandmother grew four o'clocks at the base of her house) from Fedco Seeds