Questions? Write Me at

Questions? Write me at fullcirclegardener @ cableone . net.

Lights come on today

It has happened!  I checked on the flower seeds that I planted last week and there are two little tiny snap dragon seedlings peeking out!  What an exciting day!  :D 

Now it is time to make sure those little ones are getting the light they need.  A few weeks back I posted about the basic supplies needed for starting your own plants and I discussed the very basics of lighting there; check it out if you need some basic information.  I turned on my full specturm artificial light source for these new seedlings this morning.  I'm hoping to get a post together that is a little more detailed about managing supplemental light shortly so stay tuned...

For the time being I need to keep these new seedlings covered with the seeds to keep in moisture, but they will need to be monitored very carefully and vented so that they don't get fungus in such a moist environment.   Again, stay tuned.  I'll try hard to get my thoughts out to you as quick as I can!

Happy Gardening! :D

Starting Seedlings Show & Tell

I finally got to starting my flowers tonight and decided a quick show and tell might be helpful.

As you consider starting your own seeds here are some containers I have on hand for this year's planting.  You'll notice some were bought (by someone) and some were scavenged from my kitchen.  The less I pay on supplies the better as far as I'm concerned and why should perfectly good containers take up landfill space! ;)  Just be sure that there are drainage holes in the bottom of the container before you add the soil & seeds.  You don't want to drown your new seedlings!

Once you have prepared your containers, it is time to add soil (JUST moist) and seeds.  Tonight I'm planting flowers.  Seeds should no deeper in the soil than their diameter.  Some of my flower seeds were pin tip size and I let them lay on top of the soil!  Place 2 or 3 seeds in each cell or an inch apart if sharing something like the clam-shell container you see above.   Be sure to label you containers well because your memory is never as good as you think it is (experience!!!) and they all look alike when they first come up!!!

Place your seeded containers into a larger 'drain pan' or flat to catch water and cover the whole thing to hold in the moisture. I used a system I purchased last year for my flowers tonight, but you can use an aluminum foil or any other baking pan and plastic cling wrap as well.  I will use a combination of these as I continue my plantings this season.

At this point your seedlings do not need light, but they do need warmth.  Most seeds germinate best at 70F or just above, and if your house is like mine, you will need to provide them with some supplementary heat.  There are several ways of doing this.  Here are a couple of easy ones: set them on top of a warm appliance like your refrigerator or provide them with a heating pad set on its lowest setting.  You will need to check on them occasionally so don't make them too difficult to get to.  For my convenience, I keep mine on my plant stand with all of my supplies.  Last year little fingers played in my newly seeded flowers, so tomorrow I will make sure everyone knows these are Mommies and not to be played with!  Hopefully I'll get flowers this year....

Now you are set!  Check on your seeds every day or two to give them more water (mist with a spray bottle or bottom water so you don't wash away your seeds!) or vent if they are too warm/humid.  In a week or two you will begin to see little green plants push their way out of the soil.  It is an exciting day when the first green begins to show!

Happy planting! :D

Need Supplies? Check out Menards this Sunday!

If you are in need of seeds or seed starting potting soil, Mendards has a great deal for you tomorrow (Sunday, Feb 20)!

I was at Mendards tonight and some great gardening items are on sale including, seed starting potting soil for $3/2 bags and seeds 20% off until 3/6/2011. What really excites me about today & tomorrow though, is the 11% Mendards rebate that is being offered!  These rebates are basically in-store credit, but on top of the sale, it make the seeds & soil a GREAT DEAL!

The 11% off all purchases rebate ends tomorrow, so do not delay if you want to get in on this deal.

NDSU Extention 2011 Spring Garden Day

My friend and fellow gardener told me about this yesterday.  If you are interested in getting a day of information related to gardening and trees in ND from local experts, then this may be for you.  Check it out and decide quick. Registration is due Friday February 25!

In my search of the NDSU Extension website, I saw that there is also one scheduled in Grand Forks this spring.  If you do not live near Fargo or Grand Forks, it may be worth a quick call to your local county extension agent to see if there is one close to you.

If you attend, be sure to come back & share any new or insightful information you learn!  I will be attending a similar event with a friend in central Minnesota about that same time.  I hope I'll come back with lots of gems to share! :D

Important: Clean before you plant!

One last thought before you begin filling containers with soil and seeds.

In order to minimize disease issues in your seedlings it is important to clean your containers before you plant, esp if they have been used for planting before.  All you need to do is place your containers in a one part bleach, eight parts hot water solution and let them sit for awhile (Baker, 2001).  I like to fill my bathtub (for lots of containers) or kitchen sink with a solution of bleach and water, swish the water & containers around so that everything gets wet and then go do another house hold task and come back later.  It doesn't take much of my active time and tremendously reduces my chances of loosing seedlings to disease.  Well, worth the time for the huge reduction in possible frustration later!

Update:  I have another reminder, as I cleaned my containers today, I remembered that I need to put a couple of small holes in the bottom of my 'kitchen' containers (plastic yogurt, cottage cheese, etc) so that they can drain!  The last thing I need to do is drown my seedlings!!!!  Sorry if this is late! :/

My First Planting Day is Tomorrow!

Are you excited?  I am!

This week I will be starting flowers.  I have elected to wait another week (maybe two) to start any veggies, but kohls (brocolli, cauliflower. etc) and some other veggies could be started this week if you think you'll have your garden ready to plant by May 12.  With a look at the snow pack in my yard & my personal planting history, I'm not anticipating my garden getting started quite that early, but kudos to you if you can! :D

Don't forget to check the NDSU link for average last day of frost to figure out when you might be putting your garden in and when you can start seedlings if you live in North Dakota.  Check the information on the back of the seed package or the Weekend Gardener Grow Guide to help you know how early you can start a particular seed.

I'm really hoping to set up my plant stand in front of the west window in our living room & wash up my containers tomorrow.  I'm also hoping to get some pictures taken so that I can show you how I set up my indoor garden.

Leave me a note and let me know if you plan on starting seedlings anytime soon.  I look forward to hearing about your adventure in indoor gardening!


As promised I dug out (literally... a snow pile in front of the shed door!) and gathered supplies last weekend.  It never ceases to amaze me at how few supplies are needed to start flowers & veggies in your own home!  And honestly it can be done pretty inexpensively!  All you truly need is seed, soil, a container, water, & light!  Now, let's break down each of these items.

1)  seed - My plant list includes a lot of plants that need* or can to be started indoors.  For those plants that need to be started indoors, we just do not have a long enough growing season to get a reasonable harvest or any harvest at all.  For the remaining plants on my list, I can have an earlier harvest by starting them a week or two earlier indoors... many of these plants do not handle transplanting very well so I always straight seed a few of them as well if I can't manage a harvest season without them.  In a best case scenario, I get a bit longer season by starting a few indoors. :)
They include:
peppers (hot & bell)*
tomatoes (paste/slicer/cherry)*
brussel sprouts?*
other flowers*...?
zucchini/summer squash
buttercup squash

2) soil -If you investigate the seed starting supplies in the stores you will find bagged soil specifically for starting seeds.  It has been sterilized and does not have any fertilizer in it.  The very first year I started my own plants I used whatever potting soil I already had in the house and had no real problem.  I had a few weeds start along with my veggies, but they were easily disposed of with a fingernail clippers.  I have since used seedling soil just because it is designed to give the seedlings the best advantage and it is worth it to me, but if your budget is tight any soil with high organic matter content will work.  I do not recommend straight garden soil as it can be become hard & impermeable for seedlings without the other forces of nature acting on it.

3) container -Again, in the stores you will find all kinds of options for containers from biodegradable peat pots to plastic cells and flats.  It can be really overwhelming looking at all the options, but truth be told you need very little if any of it at all!  ANY container can be used and a search of your home will yield lots of options.  Don't forget to use your friends & family for resources for pots as well!  If you just let people know what you are looking for, you will soon find your stock of containers overflowing!  A few years back I let some friends know that I was looking for plastic containers (yogurt/sour cream/cottage cheese style).  I still have a huge stockpile! :)

Here is a list of options to get you started: paper egg cartons
paper milk cartons & jugs
plastic yogurt, sour cream, cottage cheese containers
strawberry/raspberry/blueberry clam shell style containers
I've even seen illustrations of homemade newspaper mache style containers!

4) water - Just plain old ordinary tap water is perfect.  You might consider finding a water bottle to mist the seedlings, but that is it!

5) light - This is where I have invested some money over the years, but I started out by placing my seedlings by windows and letting them gather what sunlight they could.  I moved my seedlings between our east and west facing windows each day and ended up with some decent looking plants.  They were a little "leggy"  (meaning taller than they should of been for lack of adequate light) by May, but they transplanted & produced a harvest just fine.  Seedlings need a broad spectrum light source to survive and that includes natural sunlight, "grow" lights & even florescent lights.  I have a good friend who starts her seedlings on her kitchen counter under the florescent under-cabinet lights.  A couple of years ago I invested in two 18 inch grow lights that I attached to my plant stand.  I place the stand in front of my west windows & use a combination of natural light & "synthetic" light from the grow lights.  This is the best solution I have found for me, but analyze how much natural light you have before you make any big investments.

So there you have it, the basics for starting seedlings indoors are seeds, soil, a container, water & light.  Now it is time to gather your supplies because we are only one week out from planting season! :)

Now found on FaceBook!

The Full Circle Gardener is now found on facebook!  Check it out, "like" it and share with your friends!  Gardening season will be upon us soon and now is the time to get ready... including finding friends to share your joys & trials with! ;)  I hope we can establish a gardening community to support and encourage each other in our gardening journey.