How to Start Seeds Without a Greenhouse
I did not expect to be starting seeds for my farm in the dining room again this year, but here we are! While it is kind of a pain and annoyance to be surrounded by giant trays and plastic domes while we eat our supper, it’s my only option right now. We do not have a greenhouse like most other small farms, or maybe like most of the others that I see online. The thing is, greenhouses are expensive and while it is a top priority in our farming business endeavors, it’s lower on the list than other things we desperately need like a tractor, a new coop, labor, and other field supplies. We are not working with any grants, loans, or special programs to help fund our farm. It’s just purely the income we receive from CSA, farmer’s markets, plant set pre-orders, and other farm product revenue. That’s the reality. So while I wait for this year’s income to help to pay for a greenhouse for next season, I have to get these plants started somewhere before it’s too late!
Because the ground outside is covered in several inches of snow and ice and the temperatures are below freezing, our sun porch greenhouse just isn’t an option. Yet. That means the dining room is my plant domain! It gets the most sunlight during the day in our house and stays nice and warm at 65-70 degrees. The plants are thriving, which I am so happy to see. So far I have planted snapdragons, digitalis (foxglove), dianthus (carnations), eryngium, celosia, and stock.
So what do you do if you don’t have and/or cannot afford a greenhouse? It’s not like everyone out there has this perfect farm set up - at least not in their first years farming! Farming is hard and is not necessarily affordable. It’s hard work. We are only in Year Two. This post is really just a come-to-reality post that we don’t have everything together and have to make it work. I think it’s a nice reminder that you also don’t have to have all of the bells and whistles to be successful. You can start seeds literally anywhere that is warm enough and has enough sunlight!
For me, that’s the dining room as I’ve mentioned. Find a room that gets at least 10-12 hours of sunlight and is around 65-85 degrees. Most seeds need it to be pretty warm to germinate (AKA when they sprout for the first time), and if you read the backs of the seed packets this is around 80-90 degrees F. Once they germinate, they need less heat and more sun - around 65-75 degrees F. That’s why seed starting heat mats are awesome. They give the seeds that extra heat boost needed to germinate and then you remove it from underneath the trays.
I had the idea to use one of our wire rack rolling carts to store our seed trays in a tight space. This was essentially my idea for when we move the “greenhouse” out to the sun porch, which we will enclose in commercial plastic wrap siding again this year. So far it has worked amazingly well! I am able to stack several shelves of seeds and not take up much space in the house. I think this would be a great option for someone without a greenhouse option and not a lot of space in their home to start seeds, or maybe even if you don’t have a great room option for it either. I mean, the dining room isn’t ideal but it’s the best bet for my plants to thrive.
I have also noticed that the rolling cart is perfect because I can easily rotate the cart so that each end of the tray gets a good dose of sun. Not to mention that I can easily transport it around the house to other rooms that are receiving more sun in the late afternoon/evening. It’s really quite perfect!
I am so happy that it is finally time to get those plant babies started! I have been waiting for this for what seems like a long time, though it was only a couple of weeks ago that I really started to put the plans together. Next on my list is early veggies! Peppers, cabbage, and Swiss chard will be put the in trays this week. Yummy! I have lots of really interesting peppers growing this year. If you are thinking about trying our CSA program now is the time to sign up! We only have a handful more spots left. If CSA is too much commitment for you, don’t worry. We understand! You can always stop at our Country Store or the farmer’s market to enjoy our vegetables and cut flowers. We are going to be adding a no-commitment weekly share option for customers too this year! Lots of new and awesome options coming your way.
If you are ready to get gardening, be sure to check out our various seed starting posts on the blog! Check out the links below.
Let’s get to planting!