Starting From Seed

Posted by Madelaine Clerk on

With the current state of things, it feels more important than ever to ensure our communities have access to nutritious food. COVID19 has meant a shift for small farms and their consumers, including access to markets. While we are committed for our food to reach you through our CSA and online orders, we also want to support you through sharing more educational content, so you can do this on your own.

Elana will be sharing video content and photos through Instagram (@citybeetfarm), while I (Maddy) will be writing blog posts that you can follow along, come back to and reference. What better time for some solitude in the garden and practicing self-sufficiency? 

What seeds to start

We have been seeding indoors for a few weeks now, but no need to stress if you haven't gotten to it yet! The first week of March we seeded onions and our first round of scallions. In the last two weeks, we've started:

  • Kale

  • Broccolini

  • Chard

  • Flowers (Ammi, Statice, Strawflower, Rudbeckia)

  • Tomatoes

  • Eggplant

  • Peppers

  • Parsley 

  • Kohlrabi

  • Fennel 

  • Lettuce (Salanova)

We ordered our seeds from Johnny's and Osborne Seeds this year, and like to order from BC Eco Seed Co-op and Adaptive Seeds when we can.

We start our seeds in cell flats, which vary in size. The cell size you start your trays in should consider how much time the plant will spend in the cell and the space it needs for the root system to develop. Most of our plants are started in 11 inch x 21 inch trays that house 72, 98 or 128 cells. We will pot up our tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants when their root systems start growing too big for this cell size. 

Potting Mix

The soil that you seed into is super important and your soil needs the right drainage, water retention, pH, fertilization and other soil characteristics. It might be more convenient for you to buy a top quality potting mix or, like us, make your own. Our recipe includes:

1. 4.2 gallon bucket of peat moss
2. 2/3 of the 4.2 gallon bucket of vermiculite
3. 1/2 cup bone meal
4. 1/4 cup kelp meal
5. 1/4 cup blood meal
6. 1/4 cup lime
7. ~1 gallons of worm castings (or a generous amount)

Light and Watering

We seed into trays and start our plants inside under grow lights until they germinate and are ready to go into our green house. While its unheated, it gets strong sun exposure during the day and has some reflective insulation to protect our plants from the cooler nights. We are lucky with Vancouver's milder temperatures.

When watering, keep a delicate balance of adequate watering, but not watering too often as too much moisture can lead to fungal disease like "damping off". Ensure that you are watering enough to both moisten the soil top and to water deep down in the cells. 

After caring for the seedlings, eventually they will be transplanted into your garden! Stay tuned for our next post on how to prep your garden beds for seeding.Our earliest transplanting dates are set for mid-April and we won't begin direct seeding into the ground for a couple weeks, when the soil temperature has risen and our beds are prepped with compost. 

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