My Little Plant Factory

Toodles surprised me this year with everything I need for my own seed-starting operation. I’m guessing my sweet little dog thinks her thoughtful gift will keep me at home. She knows me so well.

I’ve mostly avoided planting anything permanent. There are many reasons, but the biggest is a deep and abiding affection for annuals. I especially enjoy experimenting with new varieties and changing things up every year.

I started off small enough for a few twelve-packs from the garden center to do the trick. My flower beds expand a bit every year and nearly doubled in the past few months. Relying less on garden centers and more on home-grown plants makes sense and (theoretically) saves money.

Seed catalogs offer many more options than garden centers. Numerous varieties of hundreds of different annuals are available. Not since the Sears & Roebuck’s catalogs of my youth has a catalog generated so many wish lists.

Growing my own plants has other benefits. It’s hard to know how long transplants have been at the garden center. For varieties such as petunias, sitting in pots or six-packs for too long permanently stunts growth. Starting my own seed gives me something to do when it’s too cold to work outside too.

The setup Toodles gave me includes an LED light and a digital timer to put it on and a mat that provides bottom heat to speed up germination. The bottom shelf of my plant stand is the center of the indoor operation. Once they come up, seedlings will stay in a small cold-frame (40″L x 24″W x 20″H) until ready to plant.

I’m currently starting three kinds of lettuce, sweet alyssum, and two kinds of delphiniums. Growing delphiniums in Georgia is no easy feat. I’ve got 12 pots of each kind (regular and dwarf) with 3 seeds in each pot. We’ll see what happens. Getting even one of them to bloom would be a victory.

My little plant factory is hopefully big enough to grow everything I need. Managing the limited space under lights and in the cold frame will be the biggest challenge. I’ll keep you posted.