Our seed-starting get-up, covered with plastic to retain moisture while the seeds germinate.Our seed-starting get-up, covered with plastic to retain moisture while the seeds germinate.
Soil blocks planted with leeks and red onionsSoil blocks planted with leeks and red onions
The able-bodied soil block makerThe able-bodied soil block maker
One bag mixed with water was enough for about one tray of soil blocksOne bag mixed with water was enough for about one tray of soil blocks
Nice fluffy and fine seed-starting mixNice fluffy and fine seed-starting mix
I mixed my own soil block mix last year, but bought the bagged stuff this year to make it easier and decrease my chances of messing it up.I mixed my own soil block mix last year, but bought the bagged stuff this year to make it easier and decrease my chances of messing it up.
Successful soil blocks!Successful soil blocks!
  • Our seed-starting get-up, covered with plastic to retain moisture while the seeds germinate.
  • Soil blocks planted with leeks and red onions
  • The able-bodied soil block maker
  • One bag mixed with water was enough for about one tray of soil blocks
  • Nice fluffy and fine seed-starting mix
  • I mixed my own soil block mix last year, but bought the bagged stuff this year to make it easier and decrease my chances of messing it up.
  • Successful soil blocks!

We are officially iced and snowed in for the foreseeable future (or at least about to be, since it hasn’t actually started snowing yet), but it’s the perfect time to start seeds inside. If you’re thinking about growing anything this season, now may be the time to start.

The end of January begins seed-starting time in Zone 5b, where we are located in Columbia, MO. I almost developed my own seed-starting calendar this year so I would know when to plant each crop, but then realized that I wasn’t the first person in the world to start seeds and that a seed-starting calendar probably already existed. It does. Many times over.

One of the easiest calculators to use is available through Johnny’s. Just type in your last frost date (around April 10 here, although you still have a 50% chance of frost after that date) and it will calculate the dates to start each of your plants.

On Sunday I planted 144 seeds. They are primarily leeks and red onions, plus some green onions and a few seeds of rosemary and parsley. I planted so many oniony things because a) we tear through onions like crazy, especially in the winter and b) I bought these seeds back in 08/09, and onion seeds are notorious for losing the ability to germinate more quickly than other seeds, so I planted almost everything I had. Onions require a long season to grow properly, so you have to get them started early.

A tip on making soil blocks: it’s actually pretty easy once you get the consistency of the soil/water mixture right. The mixture should be wet and heavy, but not soupy. I’ve found that when I press the soil block maker down and water squeezes out of it, the consistency is just right.

I started some seeds last year, but I almost always got them started late and then under- and over-watered them so they didn’t do well. This year I’m determined to plant things on time and take care of the seedlings properly.

This will be the year I start all my plants from seed and don’t have to buy a single transplant.

3 Responses to “It’s seed-starting time!”

  1. Desiree
    1 February 2011 at 9:45 am #

    For those who don’t live in Missouri, the link below is a good source for planting and seed dates. Just punch in your zip code and voila! a handy-dandy chart to get you started. Yay for internet!

    http://www.almanac.com/gardening/planting-dates/SC/Greenville

  2. CoMo Homestead
    1 February 2011 at 11:47 am #

    Thanks, Desirée! The Johnny’s link is also not specific to Missouri. It’s dependent on your last frost date, so it can be used anywhere.

    Johnny’s also released an Excel file last year that did the calculations for you. It looked a little more extensive than what they have on their site now. They took the file down, but promised me on Twitter they’d repost it. I’m still waiting!


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  1. […] do think it’s a Super Sunday, though. Some of the leeks and onions I planted last week are starting to come up! That’s about as exciting as it gets around […]

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