Our recent lingering winters have made many of us anxious to start digging in our gardens in the spring. Fortunately, supplies to start seeds indoors are more available now as are books and instructions to help us.
Our website already has several options. NACDI, Mashkiikii Gitigan, and Mpls. Edible Boulevards are offering classes that you can find on our website. We want to share with you some helpful instructions from our previous Ventura Village Pages in the Alley Newspaper. They were written by 2 Waite House gardeners who worked in our neighborhood. Michele Manske wrote hers in 2020 and Melissa Trent in 2021. Hope you find them useful.
Michele Manske, 2020
This year it hasn’t been the weather that’s been keeping us inside; it’s a global pandemic. With all of the emotions that are present, let us stay present. What I am seeing is the strength behind the movement of people faced with a challenge; and It brings me hope that collectively we can organize, mobilize, and find solutions.
As an urban farmer, I work to change old systems that no longer serve us. I am driven to change the narrative of injustice towards our environment and our neighbors. That is why I’m going to teach you how to start your own garden, with items found around your house to be grown by your window or in your backyard; because there is great power in growing your own food. If you have internet access, you can find my seed starting video on Pillsbury United Communities Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/PUCMN/, or by searching “Michele starting seeds at home” on youtube.
For those of you who don’t have access, read on!
- Gather potting soil. This can be ordered online, or found at any local hardware store. Some stores are doing curbside pickup so you don’t have to go inside. Call ahead to order.
- Gather old toilet paper rolls, paper towel rolls, or egg cartons. If using paper rolls: crease the roll so it resembles a square instead of a circle. Cut to desired length, for example: cut in half if using a toilet paper roll. Cut slits at the four corners to half way, so you will be able to fold the bottom of the roll like a box. You should have an open ended box, or seedling pot!
- Pre-moisten your soil. You want to mix the water in until you are able to form a ball of soil without water dripping from it.
- Fill your seedling pots. Be careful not to pack the soil in too tightly, as the seeds need room for their roots to grow.
- Place by the warmest, sunniest window in your home. Watch the seeds daily, and water when the soil is starting to look, or feel a bit dry, but be careful not to let them dry out completely. Continue caring for your seedlings in this way until the second week of May. If you have a space outside to plant, continue on. If you are planning to keep plants indoors, it is time to replant them in a larger container.
- Start bringing your seeds outside for a few hours at a time. This is called, hardening off, and allows your seedlings to get used to what will be their new outside home. After 5 days of bringing them outside and back inside at night, they are ready to plant outside! A good rule of thumb is to plant your seedlings outside after May 15th. We rarely get another frost after this date, so your plants will be safe from a frozen demise. When planting outside, dig a hole to the depth of your plant’s roots and twice as big. Fill with water, place the plant in a hole and gently push the soil back into the hole.
For more gardening tips or advice feel free to reach out to your local urban farmer at MicheleM@pillsburyunited.org. Happy planting!
Melissa Trent, 2021
Spring has officially arrived and one thing we know for sure, is that we’ve made it through the winter. For folks interested in starting their own garden seeds indoors, now is the time! Growing food is an act of resilience and can be an exciting way to spend time outdoors this year, plus, we have plenty of gardening neighbors to learn from and chat with this season.
I find the easiest plants to grow are tomatoes, peppers, and herbs. If you have a sunny window, seeds or plants, good soil, a few large pots, or a small garden space, you can grow your own food (just add water)!
If you’re looking to start your own seedlings this season, here’s an easy-to-follow guide:
- Source seeds (for free), collect a few small trays, old egg cartons, or plastic lettuce containers with lid, seed starting soil, and a spray bottle
- Choose a South facing, sunny window to set trays on
- Moisten soil in a bowl or bucket before filling pots, the soil should be moist, but not so wet that you can squeeze water out of it
- Fill your trays, pots, or cartons with soil, and loosely pat
- Read seed packet, follow instructions on the back of the packet, and plant seeds at proper depth. (this doesn’t need to be exact, but fairly close to the recommended depth)
- Place seeds in soil, using your finger to gently press into the soil
- Lightly cover seeds with soil and water
- Label planting containers with the plant varieties that you chose
- Place seeds in a sunny window
- Check plants daily to ensure that they have adequate moisture and make sure to mist them if the soil feels dry. It’s critical to make sure the soil doesn’t dry out, as the seeds require moisture to germinate.
- After 4 weeks, or one set of true leaves have emerged, place one plant per pot, into larger pots, and move into a porch, or place outside for a few hours, gradually moving outdoors.
- After the last spring frost (usually after Mother’s Day), plant outside in a sunny area.