Starting a Garden
Updated: Oct 23
By Petra BG
When quarantine began this year, I found myself with much more time on my hands. I began cooking a lot, and I began to realize the significance of using fresh foods. Fresh fruits and vegetables taste so much better than produce that is old or canned. I talked to a few friends of mine who have gardens, and they convinced me to start my own! I went to the Berkeley Horticulture Nursery and bought a ton of seeds. You can also buy little baby plants and transplant them into your garden, but I wanted to control when I started each plant and the satisfaction of growing something from a tiny little seed.
I researched when to sprout my seeds, and found a couple useful gardening websites:
The Old Farmer’s Almanac has information about weather patterns, astronomy, and gardening! They have a planting calendar where you can plug in your location and they will give you information about the planting seasons there.
The UC Master Gardening Program of Alameda County also has some great information about when and how to start a garden. They have a month-by-month calendar about what you should be doing in your garden.
I also made my own seed calendar to keep track of when and what plants I am starting:
So far, I have planted Nantes carrots, New Red Fire lettuce, Nero Toscanna kale, and Di Cicco broccoli. The carrots have been doing great! They came up in about a week, and even though I accidentally left them outside overnight for a few days (which you are not supposed to do to seedlings), they survived and seem to be doing well.
The lettuce and kale are doing alright. I started them the day before the sky turned orange so they haven’t been getting enough sunlight. I left them outside all day on Tuesday and Wednesday, and they got kinda wilty so I will try keeping them inside on the windowsill and see if they prefer less intense sunlight.
The broccoli has not sprouted yet but I am hopeful that it will.
The carrots are in a self-watering seedling starter. I fill it up with water about once a week and the soil stays moist. The carrots are definitely doing better than the other plants, but that might also be because they are hardier.
I started the other three seeds in egg cartons. Cardboard or paper egg cartons are great for starting seeds because they have perfect little compartments for each sprout and are (usually) compostable, so you can just plant them into the ground once your sprouts are big enough. This is also reusing and composting at the same time so double points for saving the earth!
I mist the soil about 4 times a day to keep the it from drying out. Typically, it is best to start seeds in a special seed-starting-mixture because they need extra help to sprout. I went to Flowerland and they recommended that I use their mixture for potting soil. I highly recommend going to a local nursery and asking them for tips about everything you do.