So the first start to our homesteading craze was the vegetable garden. Throw a few seeds in some dirt, water them, and be on your way.
Seems simple, right?
Turns out, it actually was!
Now, because we live in East Texas, the winters are crazy – late winter in particular. I’m talking, 80 degrees one day, frost on the ground the next. Doesn’t do much for the sinuses, but hey, what can you do? Flonase and Sudafed are always in demand in our house.
So because of the erratic weather, we chose to start our seeds indoors. We purchased some seeds, seed trays, and soil from Dollar General (we are all about saving money, remember?) and got to work. We ended up choosing lettuce, spinach, and cucumbers, because we eat the most of them.
I know you’re thinking, no tomatoes? Shun the non-believer! I know, we just don’t eat them. Plus, we were nervous to start with too many different varieties and get in over our heads.
We filled up the trays with soil, made a small hole with the eraser end of a pencil, and put the seeds in. We covered the seeds, spritzed the soil with some water, balked at the mess we made of our kitchen table, and moved the trays to their new home.
We have an outdoor storage shed attached to the house, so this was a perfect place to keep the seedlings sheltered from the winter (and away from our meddlesome menace of a cat, Dean). It also has a west-facing window, so the setting sun was helpful once they started sprouting.
Most people choose to cover their seed trays for the greenhouse effect, but we didn’t end up needing to do this. Our babies sprouted on their own.
Two important things to note:
- If you’re an amateur gardener (like us), you will look at some of the seeds (like lettuce or spinach) and think, man, those are small! I better put a million of them in this tiny little hole so one will have a chance to grow! Turns out, a master’s degree doesn’t always mean you’re smart. They will sprout in a bunch (see picture below), and when it’s time to transplant them, you’ll be faced with the task of separating the roots and will ultimately lose some.
- Make sure you label your seeds! Once they start sprouting, most of them look pretty similar – green leaves (helpful, right?) We did this easily by writing on a sticky note tag, wrapping it around a toothpick, and putting it at the edge of the soil (see the picture below). This was super helpful later, since some veggies are bad neighbors to others.
The next step was the hardest: patience. We went out to that shed daily looking for some hope of life. After a few weeks of patience, watering, and thwarting the cat, we were rewarded with seedlings!
The next step was transplanting, which was a whole ‘nother ball game!