Let's get one thing straight: Femivore, I am not. Sure, I like to cook. Maybe twice a week. (I also really like other people to cook for me.) And yes, I belong to a CSA. I adore getting a biweekly load of fresh and frozen plant foods, but I'm also a little bit scared of my (super nice) CSA lady, because she's a really principled vegan and I... put cheese on things. Also bacon.
And while I think it's super to know more about where your food comes from and all that, I have definitely, always (throughout my suburban Connecticut childhood and ten adult years living in New York City) drawn a very thick line in the sand against growing said food myself. Farmers have to get up wicked early. Gardeners spend a scary amount of time weeding. Waking up early and weeding = things that give me hives.
My husband, Dan, and I moved out to the country (New York's Hudson Valley) last year. And now we have a house. With a garden. I think -- it's been buried under snow most of the time so far, and anyway, I try not to leave the front porch. But my new country friend Shannon (who grows all her own food, of course) took me out to lunch yesterday and, after two margaritas, had me convinced that it would be a really good idea to plant a tray of seeds.
It seemed like a gardening baby step. I'm still scared of the actual yard, but, city girl/control freak that I am, I liked the notion of a garden in a box. I also liked the fact that this Burpee Eco Friendly Seed Starting Greenhouse Kit came with 25 pellets of hard-packed dirt that expand when you add water. That seemed pretty idiot-proof, not to mention mess-proof.
Of course, I knew, theoretically, that once I planted the seeds and they grew for a bit, there would come the dubious "transplanting" stage where they need go outside. But again, two margaritas followed by me being let loose in the garden supply store. And so here I am, ready to share my tales of gardening 101 with you all. Whether you're a full-on femivore (or guy-ivore) or just like to get those pots of basil they sell at the grocery store, I hope you'll follow along with my adventure, offer your own tips and tricks, and not mock me too much if this whole thing turns out to be an epic failure.
How to Plant A Tray of Seedlings:
1. Choose Your Seeds
You can see my little 25-pellet tray and my packets of seeds, above. I chose grape tomatoes, big tomatoes, kale, stock (a flower I dimly remember being involved in my wedding bouquet), and something called a poppy/peony, which seemed like a brilliant idea because I can never tell poppies and peonies apart in the first place. You could plant the entire tray with one packet of seeds and end up with 25 of the same plant; I get bored easily and figured I have a better shot of getting at least one plant to live if I mix it up a little.
2. Water and Plant your Tray
Per the instructions on the back of my Burpee seed tray, I poured 4 3/4 cups of water over my soil pellets and waited a minute or so for them to expand into real live dirt. Then I ripped open each packet of seeds and added one or two seeds to each pellet. Newsflash: Seeds are tiny. The instructions say one or two, but some pellets got more like three or four. We'll see how that turns out. I also learned that poppy/peonies don't like to be started inside. (Note to self: Read tiny print on seed packets before purchasing.) Apparently, they're high-maintenance like that. So the fifth row ended up being a bit of a mish-mash (two more stock, one kale, one each of the tomatoes).
3. Bake for Several Weeks
With my seeds all planted, I popped the clear dome lid back onto my Burpee tray and put the whole thing on a window seat in my living room that gets a lot of sun. Four hours later, I reread the instructions and realized that you're actually supposed to keep the tray "in a warm location" but "away from direct sunlight." So it's possible that I've killed them already. But I moved the tray over to the mantle (indirect sun, I think) and now I'm waiting and hoping for the little seedlings to appear. Stay tuned!