With the Spring Equinox on March 20, 2019, it gets us thinking of spring and the warmer weather ahead including sunshine and being outdoors in our gardens. As an enthusiastic gardener, you may be thinking whether you can start with planting seeds at this time of year. If you want to start your plants from scratch and grow your own organic vegetables or herbs, starting seedlings now is a great idea. Indoors somewhere or in the garage would be some ideal locations for seedlings.
Depending on how many seedlings you’ll be starting, either a workspace in the garage or multiple slatwall shelves will do the trick. This will keep the seedlings safely off the ground with a workbench or workspace to do transplanting as the seedlings take off and need to be transplanted into a large pot.
Choosing Seedlings to Start in March
There are a variety of seedlings which can be started in March so that they will be ready to plant in the garden by May. Here some seedlings which you might consider for the Southern Ontario climate in March.
- Celery (April)
- Lettuce (April)
- Pac choi & choi sum (April – cover well)
- Radish (April)
- Spinach (April)
- Tomatos (April)
With this variety of vegetables, one or two of your favourites are probably among these options. If so, it’s time to investigate starting a seedling system in your garage.
Containers for Seedlings
Seedlings need a lot of water as it grows. To grow seedlings, using paper containers is often the best way to grow seedlings. The containers will then biodegrade as the seedling needs to be transplanted into larger spaces. Use a clear plastic covering to keep the evaporation of water low and to speed the germination of your seedlings while providing some extra warmth. Seedlings seem to do best when they receive a lot of water.
A couple of dry days and your seedling efforts will be for nothing. It’s best to water your seedlings from both above and below. The condensation on the plastic covering helps prevent the escape of moisture from above while the condensation on the plastic covering will return some of the moisture back to the seedlings. Keep water available in the tray below the containers so that the seedling containers can soak water into the soil from below the seeds and remain moist at all times.
You can make your own containers using old newspaper which easily soak in water from below. These can be placed in plastic trays lined with a layer of water. Another alternative is to buy a reusable seedling system. These systems often come with watering systems built-in to help make sure that the soil is constantly moist. And, it may come with clear covers so the seeds are kept warm and visible. They can be used year after year instead leaving containers which may need to be tossed due to cracking or breaking.
Use a Homemade Liquid Fertilizer and Good Composting
Homemade liquid fertilizers are inexpensive and faster acting than some of the store bought fertilizer. Some of the things which can be used include fresh grass clippings steeped with equal amounts of water for 3 days. Seaweed can be used after it has been steeped for 3 days. And, urine with 20 parts of water can also be used as a liquid fertilizer.
Seedlings will need a little of this diluted liquid fertilizer twice a week to start. As time goes on, they may only need some fertilizer once every 7 to 10 days. Once you’ve added the fertilizer, if the plant starts to darken its leaves and growth, you’ll know that your seedling needed the fertilizer. If you don’t see any change, try lengthening the time between fertilizer feedings.
If you have a heated compost which reached 150 °F and killed off bacteria or a vermicompost with beneficial disease-fighting microbes at about 15% of the mix with soil, helps the germination process and has been shown in a study to do better than just soil alone. Seedlings are delicate so healthy soils and fertilizers with beneficial microbes will help them germinate into stronger plants before they get transplanted outdoors.
Lighting and Warmth
As the seedlings break through the top of the soil, they will now need a lot of light and warmth. Standard fluorescent lights which are placed slightly above the seedlings would be ideal. The slatwall shelving system would be ideal for both mounting the lights and adjusting the height of the lighting relative to the height of the new growth from the seeds. When the lights are just slightly above the height of the plant, there is enough warmth from the lighting to keep the seedlings warm. Using a timer, you can make sure that the plants receive 12 – 15 hours of light per day during these early days.
Most seedlings could use a differential in temperature of 10°C between the day and the night. If the garage is still a bit on the cold side during the night, use some heavy clear plastic to create an insulating barrier around each shelf.
As the seedlings start to grow in height, you’ll want to re-adjust the height of your shelves so they have more room to grow. The slatwall organization system and the shelving offers the flexibility to change the height between shelves quite quickly. The sturdy construction of the slatwall shelves and their mounting mechanisms allows it to hold even larger pots of heavy soil so as your seedling and soil requirements expand, your slatwall will be able to accommodate the growing weight demands of your growing garden.
Use an electrical source which has been installed to building code standards to provide a power source for your fluorescent lighting. During a garage renovation, not only can storage and workspace be created but adequate electrical supply and water supply can be made available to suit the family’s interests in gardening or other creative tasks. Garage storage and workspace solutions are available to suit a wide range of family lifestyles, hobbies and past times. The various rigours of gardening systems are no different in their demand for a space that can accommodate the various needs of your new plants.
Learn about the Germination Period of Your Favourite Garden Plants
In order to have a successful garden in the spring, timing is everything. Plants have various germination periods from 4 weeks to 11 or 12 weeks before they will be ready for the outdoor garden. And, the various climates from Southern Ontario to Northern Ontario will also affect the length and timing of these germination periods.
If you know neighbours who are avid gardeners, they may be able to give you a hint regarding some of the plants that you may have in common. Join gardening clubs in the neighbourhood or online so you can ask questions and get valuable hints and tips about your favourite vegetable crop or perennials. Timing the growth of seedlings and assuring a good germination period for them before they go outside can have a significant impact on the bounty you’ll get to enjoy as they ripen or become ready to pick.
Gardening in Your Garage
Not only is the garage a great place to start your garden, but it makes it easy for you to get your saplings out to the yard for planting. With a polyaspartic garage floor, small spills and mishaps are not a big deal and any water spills can be easily mopped dry. When spring finally arrives, you’ll be able to swap out seedling trays when they have been planted in the garden for slatwall space to hang garden tools and supplies which you’ll want to use regularly to tend to your garden throughout the growing season.
If your passion is the garden, we can help you make the most of your garage renovation to include work space as well garage storage space for your most valuable tools and growing systems.