It is really early in the season that we haven't even officially started Spring but this amazing So. Cal. weather allows it. I started many seeds a few days after Christmas have had to transfer many of them to bigger pots already.
It is hard enough to find space to put the seed trays but it makes it harder when bigger pots need to be added. This is where "hardening off" the plants comes in handy. Once the seeds have sprouted and are a few inches tall, I started placing the trays outside. I put them into my home-made greenhouse but not in direct sunlight. I only leave them out there for a few hours the first day and slowly add more time until they have been outdoors for about a week.
Once the seedlings have acclimated themselves to the outdoors, they get potted up and left outside all the time. Instead of buying small pots, I cut off the bottom of water bottles and plant in those. I know the roots may attach to the plastic but by carefully snipping it off, the plant should be fine. Some plants actually prefer being transplanted because it creates a stronger root system. For example, when transplanting tomatoes, it is recommended to bury part of the stem. The stem will now grow roots and will help stabilize the plant better.
Not only were seeds started indoors but also in the garden and they are already popping up. Radishes, snow peas and carrots are showing life. Everything is growing in nicely and wit the help of chicken wire, I am keeping the neighborhood cats from making the garden their personal litter box. The chicken wire also helps keep the rows straighter and properly spaced.
Along with having with proper spacing, the chicken wire helps keep me on track to the areas of the garden that have already been planted. I did not make the mistake of sowing everything at once and end up with tons of vegetables only towards the end of the summer. Succession planting is very important and helps with this issue. I have been seeding more in the garden every 2-3 weeks in small batches and it seems to be working. Most, if not all, of the seeds from that first planting have already sprouted and are looking healthy. The second planting is just starting to come up and looking good as well.
The other half of the garden includes the 3 raised beds. I have not put anything into these yet because this is where most of the tomato plants are going. For now, the beds are simply covered with chicken wire and will be planted in another month or so. I will also be adding Eggplant, peppers and more root veggies. I am not sure where I am going to add all of these plants but some of the squash may go in the plants in front of the house. The beautiful squash blooms should look amazing up front and save us from having to buy plants to fill it in.
I think I've covered most of the "farm" but will regularly update with photos and general information.
P.S.: Here are some photos of the current state of the garden! Click Now!
A few links on "hardening off" your seedlings:
1. Veggie Gardening Tips
4. About.com 2