Building An Earthship In Darfield, B.C.

We are a family of five living in Darfield, BC.
Our house is six hundred square feet in total and we are feeling cramped.

We have decided to build an earthship!

So starts the adventure ...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Too many seedlings!

It has officially been spring for a couple of days, but around here it has not felt like winter for weeks. It is warm, mostly sunny, and weeds are starting to appear in the garden beds.

A couple of weeks ago I decided to start some seedlings.  I had been meaning to get started for a couple of weeks but dragged my feet. Then somebody mentioned they already had seedlings in their greenhouse and that was enough to light a fire ...

That night I separated some worm compost and started a tray of 36 seedlings (12 peppers and 24 tomatoes) using exactly 32 seeds (yes, I was counting).  I placed one seed in the middle of each of the 36 seedling starter pots.  This sounds pretty anal but last year I did much the same thing, only I planted a few seeds in each tray in case some seeds did not germinate.  I figured I'd just trim back the plants I did not want and life would be good.

Unfortunately, I discovered that worms do NOT kill all of the seeds in the finished compost.  I had volunteer plants starting like crazy (much like this year) and consequently did not have a clue what was what in my seedling trays.  I ended up guessing which plants were the ones I had intended for the garden and culled the rest.  Last year I culled all of my pepper seedlings and wound up with tomato plants instead.  I am not sure why but the vast majority (possibly all?) of the seeds left in my worm compost are tomato seeds.  We do eat a lot of tomatoes, but I have seen other seeded vegetables appear on our chopping blocks occasionally.  Fortunately, I got tomatoes off of all of the tomato plants in my garden, but I wanted some peppers too!

This year will be different.  Yesterday I culled the volunteers from my first seedling tray.  I still made some guesses but in most cases it was pretty obvious (from their relative positions in the pot) which was a plant I had intentionally started, and which was a volunteer.  Again this year, the vast majority of the volunteers appear to be tomato plants.  I also think I have figured out how to distinguish pepper and tomato seedlings.  The pepper seedlings take longer to germinate and they develop a little knob below their first leaves where the tomato seedlings remain smooth.  Progress I guess!

I just started a tray of onion seedlings (last year I waited too long and our onions were uniformly small).  This time I bought sterilized compost from the store to start the seeds.  I am curious to see if it is indeed 'volunteer' seed free, and if my life will be easier.


Jan said...

Hi, Chris:
I've heard the gardening expert on CBC radio, Ed Lawrence, mention a way to sterilize your own compost. He suggests bagging it in green garbage bags then laying it flat in the hot sun and leaving it there for a few weeks to 'cook' the weed seeds and disease organisms.
Cheers, Jan

Chris said...

I was thinking of just setting out compost in potting trays, and then weeding it.

That sounds a bit easier!