Me and little Jada planted our broccoli seeds today. They have to be started indoors 4-6 weeks before planting outside. I hope they do well!
When I decided it was time to plant these seeds, I wanted to try an experiment. My goal in gardening is to do it as cheaply as I can, just short of sticking it in the ground. I don’t want to buy tons of potting soil, so I thought to myself, How did the pioneers do it? They couldn’t just ride to the hardware store and pick up a bag of soil. So what did they do? Here is an excerpt from an article I found at Mother Earth News:
“Until 30 years ago, most gardeners made their own potting soil by combining their best garden soil with rotted manure from the barn or buckets of leaf mold hauled home from damp stream banks, topped off with a dusting of wood ashes. “
So, I decided that I would just go and dig up some dirt from my garden plot, and some soil underneath tons of decayed leaves in the woods, and bake it to kill any fungi that might be present. (To see how this is done, and to read the whole article on making your own potting soil, check it out HERE.)
Me and the kids went out into the woods and collected some dirt into a big bowl. I planned on sifting out the sticks and rocks and baking it that night, but I got busy and put it off for the next day. I did put some egg shells in it to add later for nutrients.
When I woke up the next morning I had a lovely surprise sitting on the counter beside my bowl of dirt… an Asian Longhorn Beetle!
Aaaah! Freak me out! I did catch it in my daughter’s bug catcher though, so that I could show it to her when she woke up. She loves bugs… but even this one creeped her out. It must have been hiding in the dirt I brought inside… lesson learned!
I started thinking though, that if my dirt didn’t work well, I didn’t want to waste all of my broccoli seeds, so I thought I’d do some in a batch of homemade soil, and some in a batch of store bought, and see how they compared.
So, I got my dirt from outside and started to sift it. I quickly discovered that it was mostly rocks, sticks, and red mud clots. Discouraged at the poor quality of my soil samples, I decided that I wouldn’t use it after all. It just wasn’t good enough for my seeds.
I told myself that next year I will try the experiment again, once I have a good compost pile going and really good homemade potting soil to use. I don’t think my seeds would have had a chance in the plain old dirt I dug up.
So anyways, me and the kids filled a plastic container that I had saved with store bought potting soil, and planted the seeds. This is how we did it:
- Broccoli seeds need to be planted about 1/4 in. deep, and kept in lots of light.
- We planted three seeds in each little hole.
- I put some in egg shells filled with soil to see if they grow better than the others. Three seeds in each shell.
- I lightly watered it all, and closed the plastic lid to make a sort of green house, and placed it in my kitchen window.
- I made sure to label the container with the date and what was growing in it.
We said a little prayer that God would make them grow, and that was it. I REALLY hope they do well!
*Update: The seeds I planted in eggshells didn’t do well at all. I won’t be using this method again.
Anybody have any advice for me??