By Lydia George
With spring around the corner growers are beginning to plan their crops for the coming year. Here are some 101 tips for starting seeds this season! There are two main ways to start seeds, the first is into seed trays, and the second is to sow them directly into the soil.
There are pros and cons to both styles that I will lay out for you.
Starting seeds in trays is great because you can get a jump on the season and have crops for harvesting earlier in the year! Many farmers and gardeners will start seeds as early as February for hardier early spring varieties, and now is a great time of year for planting summer crops in trays,
so that by May you will have larger plants to put in your garden.
The hard thing about using seed trays is that you will need to make sure that the conditions in the pot are never too moist or too dry, and you need to continue to size up the pots as the plant grows and eventually move the plant to your garden bed. This process of numerous transplants can be hard on a baby plant and can take a toll on their health for their entire life cycle.
The best way to avoid detrimental effects to your potted seedlings is to make sure that you never transplant during sunny days. The sunshine will be too much for the baby plant and they could easily wilt or dry up. It is best to make the transplant on cloudy or rainy days if that is an option, or in the evening so that the plants have all night to adjust to their new environment.
Make sure to keep the plants well watered and tended to during the first 2 weeks after transplanting.
Sowing seeds directly into the soil will allow for stronger, more resilient plants that will need less tending during their life cycle because they are becoming established in the same place from the moment they sprout, the way nature intended them to grow. That being said, for direct sowing seeds you often have to wait till the frost is over, which means there will be a longer wait to harvest than with plants you start indoors in trays.
Directly sown seeds are also more at risk of other environmental conditions like birds, rabbits, deer and insects who may find your baby plants to be a delicious and much needed snack. These seeds also could be put at risk of a late frost or other weather conditions. This means that you may end up with less plants than seeds you put in the ground, and should plant extra accordingly. There are also homemade organic sprays you can use to deter pests and products like row cover you can use for elemental protection.
A good gardener will often use a mix of directly sown crops and ones that were prestarted in trays. Whatever you choose to do, as long as you tend to your seedlings with care they will surely flourish!
Check out our new Events Calendar to see all our upcoming gardening workdays and events.
In this hands-on workshop we will learn about and help construct an AERATED compost system. This type of system can produce beautiful pathogen free and weed seed free soil in a short period of time. This workshop is limited to 20 participants. Please sign up in advance here to attend: https://docs.google.com/.../1-mSU0Hq1t94g2kBV1abo.../edit...
These workshops presented in conjunction with The City of Asheville.
Pearson's New Growing Space!
Bountiful Cities has been gifted a beautiful glass greenhouse from the Sovereign Oaks Community in Asheville. We will be relocating it and installing it in our Pearson Garden and Nursery in Montford. At this garden we grow out plants to share through our Community Garden Network. Free plant starts enable communities to get a jump start on the growing season and grow as much food as possible.
We need your help! Moving and reconstructing a greenhouse is an exciting and expensive project. Please support us as we support the community. Donate to our Greenhouse at Pearson Project and get involved in growing food, and building climate resiliency for our community.
This month in the Bountiful Cities FEAST program, Fourth graders at Lucy Herring Elementary completed a nearly year-long project following the cycle of the potato. These potatoes represent a lot of firsts for this group of kids. Back in April as 3rd graders, they planted these potatoes during their first in-person FEAST class after a year of virtual learning. Then back in September, they harvested these potatoes during their first FEAST class as 4th graders. And during their first FEAST class of 2022, they packed them into paper bags with some rosemary, sage, and garlic also grown in the garden and excitedly brought them home to cook for dinner. School COVID policies may prevent us from cooking in FEAST classes, but it won't keep us from getting kids excited about growing and cooking vegetables at home!
Our End of Year Fundraising was a Success!
Our goal was to raise $10,000 to support our programs at the end of 2021, and with lots of community support we surpassed that goal and raised $11,692! This will help us grow climate resilience and long-term food security in 2022. Our programs impact the community in a multitude of ways. This is just some of what we do:FEAST - School-based cooking and gardening education.
Asheville Buncombe Community Garden Network - Over 30 community gardens with access to our tool library, seed library, and free hands-on educational workshops.
Windfall Collective Plant Nursery - Growing out seedlings to support community gardens and local urban agriculture.
Asheville Buncombe Food Policy Council (ABFPC) - Coordinating across multiple organizations to support local sustainable agriculture policies. Bountiful Cities serves as the fiscal agent for the ABFPC.
The Community Garden Network Seed Library is going through some changes this year!
The Seed Library is a series of shelving units containing free seed packets. In the past the majority of those seed packets were donations from companies like Sow True Seed and High Mowing. We have been working to create more Seed Library locations around the city and also to include more community growers interested in saving seeds at their own gardens to stock libraries, to create a free inter-community seed network.
There are several new locations of seed libraries that can be accessed around town.
There is still a location at the Burton St Peace Garden, with new Sow True seed packets.
The Stephens Lee Center has also started an independent seed library project that will be partnering and sharing resources with our CGN library.
There is a small seed library shelf in the free food pantry at the Shiloh Community Garden. All the seeds in that shelving unit were saved from that community garden this past year.
The Lucy Herring Garden at Vance Elementary School has also begun Saving Seeds from their garden this fall for the new seed library locations.
The Windfall Collective has a seed farm at the Pearson Community Garden and they have been saving seeds from medicinal herbs this year to help the different seed library locations.
The Utopian Seed Project will also be involved, providing education on how to plan a garden for seed production, and seed saving basics.
This is a continually growing project. Any community growers who would like to participate in saving seeds for the library from your land or community centers interested in housing a seed library location please let us know!
Bountiful Cities Seed Libraries and Seed Saving Workshop
Did you know Bountiful Cities Community Garden Network (CGN) operates several seed libraries? The idea is similar to a book lending library. Anyone can take some seeds and if you have extra seeds you can bring them to the library. Our CGN recently hosted a seed saving workshop so folks can learn more about saving seeds from their gardens. Check out the video from that workshop HERE on our website. If you would like more information about contributing seeds or getting seeds from our seed libraries contact Lydia@bountifulcities.org or Isa@bountifulcities.org
How does Bountiful Cities Create Long Term Food Security?
https://youtu.be/MOuxMHiJI5k Watch this two minute video created by our Board Chair Ameena Batada to find out ways to create long term food security...
Beneficial Insects and Your Leaves
Did you know that ladybug larva look like that?! And they are getting ready to hunker down for the winter with other insects like fireflies. They’ll stay warm and be ready to emerge in the spring. The best thing to do if you want to have lots of beneficial bugs like ladybugs and fireflies is LEAVE your LEAVES You can pile them in your yard, or just let them fall In the garden you can let tall stems stay to encourage praying mantises to leave their eggs for spring. But if you really do want your yard debris-free, call Bountiful Cities Grass to Greens (G2G) 828-775-0614 and we’ll come pick up your leaves and compost them for school and community gardens.
Introducing LaKyla Hodges!
Meet Ms. LaKyla, the new Bountiful Cities FEAST Program Assistant at Lucy S. Herring Elementary! LaKyla is finishing up her senior semester at Warren Wilson College where she is studying Environmental Education. She brings to us her enthusiasm for working with children and engaging them with food and nature. She also loves curling up with a good book and her cat, Sprout.
The Herring Elementary FEAST garden is planting a new pollinator garden in the dappled shade of our plum trees! We are collecting divisions and seeds for native plants including: phlox, coreopsis, ferns, bee balm, day lilies, turtlehead, brown eyed susan, mountain mint, fire pink, cardinal flower/lobelia, foam flower, green and gold, asters. Please contact Jordan@bountifulcities.org if you have anything from your garden that you would like to contribute!