The garden is a Memorial Garden, a garden of benevolence, a garden of love. It is a gift to our community from the God of Love, Jesus the Christ. The first “seeds” for our garden have come from members of the congregation and a designation from the congregation’s memorial funds. These seeds have brought us to the beginning of a journey that will last for many years. Guided by the Holy Spirit we will plow forth until row upon row of our work is accomplished and our community is better nourished. The Lord invites you all to be part of His work on earth strengthening and feeding His children. The garden is made possible by generous donations from the community, and grants from the Alaska Food Policy Council through the Municipality of Anchorage, the Alaska Women's Giving Circle, generous support by the congregation of Lutheran Church of Hope, and support from the Alaska Synod of the ELCA.

Food from the garden in 2018 was sent to Lutheran Social Services Food Pantry, the Tudor Road Gospel Rescue Mission, and to Bean's Cafe.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Starting the Seeds

I usually start seeds at the beginning of April. Maybe a little earlier. I probably should start the peppers earlier this year as they didn't set much fruit in 2017. Early April is good for the brassicas. That's the cabbage, broccoli, and sprouts. Of course that means you needed to buy seeds before this time. The local nurseries and the home centers usually have seeds for sale in March. I order most of mine through the mail. If you aren't sure where to buy just key in "seeds" or "vegetable seeds" to your favorite search engine and you will get millions of hits. You might have to use more than one seed company depending on what varieties you want to plant.

6 Pack
Once you have the seeds you will have to get some seed starting soil. It's not really potting soil. The stuff is usually sterilized so you don't introduce pathogens into the seedlings right away. There are many choices of starting mix. They sell them locally. The seed companies sell them. I buy mine from Amazon. If you are a prime member you can get lots of stuff for the garden from Amazon and the shipping is free. The mix I use is Espoma SS16 16-Quart Organic Seed Starter. If you click on it here it will take you to Amazon so you can buy it there. If I run out I will usually buy more locally but no one carries this type. Of ones I have used I like the Espoma the best.

Washing "Pots" from Last Year
You will need some 1020 trays and 4 packs or 6 packs. The 1020 trays should not have holes. They come with and without. I don't use peat pots. They tend to dry out too quickly and they do not decompose well in Alaska's cold soils. You can often use the plastic ones more than one year if you are careful when you take them out to transplant. I planted about 20 trays in 2017. That's twice as many as I planted the year before but now I had twice as much space. I usually get my trays and 4 or 6 packs from Amazon as well. 
1020 Tray

If you reuse your 1020 trays from last year and your 4 or 6 packs, be sure to wash them in soapy water. Add about a quarter cup of bleach. Be careful what soap and bleach you use together. A soap containing ammonia should not be used with bleach. That would put off a poisonous gas that is not good for you.  Washing will help get rid of any critters that might have taken up residence. The critters include the ones you can't see. There are bacteria and fungi that you don't want in the soil while starting your seeds. Wash last years supplies and they should be fine.

4 Pack
Fill the trays with 4 or 6 packs and fill them with soil. Select the seeds you want to plant and put one seed in each cell. You plant them to the depth you find on the back of the seed packet. Cover the seeds with soil. Water them thoroughly. I also take a plastic label stick and write the variety on it and put it in one of the cells. I then cover the cells with plastic wrap. This prevents evaporation of the water. You don't want the seeds to dry out.  I leave it on until the seeds sprout.

When the sprouts appear discard the plastic wrap. You should check to see if they need water every day. Don't let them dry out. The plants are pretty fragile right now. You will also need a more intense source of light. I use fluorescent lights because I have them. You could use LED as well. More on lighting a little later.

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