by Leigh Mills
The mid-winter mark has come and gone. Days are noticeably longer and it’s time to start new seeds. February is the month many seeds are started at our homestead. We will be direct planting lettuce, cilantro, spinach, and maybe some carrots into the greenhouse. Tomatoes, peppers and some flower seeds will be started in pots to be transplanted later in the spring.
The Heyokah method for starting seeds is a little different than most, but that’s why we’re the Heyokah. I use 2”x2” square pots and put about 2-3 seeds into each pot. There’s enough room for them to sprout and grow until transplant. It also saves pots when you only have so many. We have been known to use larger Styrofoam containers as trays for certain types of seed. Any plastic container will do as long as you make some drainage holes in the bottom. Make sure you clean the containers with warm, soapy water and rinse well before using to remove old debris and contaminants.
I always wet the planting medium a little before I fill the pots so when I do the first watering, the soil level won’t shrink. I’ve noticed over the years if I put dry medium in the pots, add the seed, then water, the medium tends to shrink and the seeds might get moved in the container or lost in the water outflow. I don’t worry too much about sterilizing my soil, although it is recommended to remove bugs and any disease. I usually make a mixture of garden dirt from our surplus pile and depending on what’s around, will supplement with peat moss, vermiculite, coconut, or other fluffy, moisture-retaining medium. When I’ve purchased soil, I usually go for large bags or truckloads from Rocky Mountain Soil, located a little north of Alamosa. Their “top-soil” is pretty good, but a bit too hot to use without mixing. They also have bags for purchase at many garden outlets in the area.
No matter what kind of pots you use, growing medium, or origin of seed, I think the most important element in planting a seed is gratitude and recognizing its inherent gift. Every seed gets a prayer of gratitude for its potential and I visualize the plant in full growth before harvest. This simple act connects me into the cycle of existence and energizes the seed with the potent power of life.
Using the North American Bio-dynamic Sowing and Planting calendar when planning your planting schedule will also improve each plant’s growth efficiency and nutritive content. It was used all last year here at the Heyokah Homestead and the results were amazing. There’s actually more seed starting flexibility for various types of plants than by using a basic moon cycle. It can be found at the Steiner books website: http://bit.ly/wmMvRn.
There are also various books and websites to peruse if you aren’t familiar with starting your own seeds. “The New Seed Starters Handbook” by Nancy Bubel is a book in the Saguache County library system and “About.com Gardening” at http://bit.ly/wmMvRn is a place to start searching for web info. Have fun and start growing!