It is now mid-March and my grow boxes have been readied for vegetable seedlings. Just as I was thinking that the cold was behind us here in central Florida, we had a night in the 40’s. That will be rare from here on out.
I wouldn’t be in a huge hurry, but I know that the heat is coming. Yes, vegetables need sun and heat, but not the kind of heat Florida throws at us. I’m not even planting peas until September because I am sure it will get too hot for them now.
So here it was, a cloudy, somewhat cool, morning and I decided to get the seedlings into the grow beds.
I was a little tired of setting the eggshells outside and having to check on them. Something was eating some of the plants too. The seedlings were mostly large enough for the ground. Rain was in the forecast, so it was a good day to plant.
You can see my three new garden boxes in the background. I also have an old grow box to make four total in the group. My old raised bed is in the background. The wood has rotted and it is no long usable. We’ve switched to using smaller garden boxes.
The grow boxes I used were similar to the one below (which is an affiliate link to Amazon), but I bought mine at Home Depot. I bought them early before the growing season really began, just in case they were hard to find.
The box is called self-watering because you pour the water into a tube which sticks up in one corner. A mesh layer keeps the dirt up and away from the bottom and the idea is for the water to soak up through into the dirt. I also water from the top because anything with shallow roots will need that.
Really, I treat the box as a regular garden and don’t count on the self-watering part. Florida gardening is very different from other places.
Transplanting the Seedlings
I spent some time researching and studying where my little seedlings would go. Each box is quite small and will not hold a lot of plants. Things can’t be too crowded.
My tomato seedlings (2 only) went into the old box in the back. Planting tomatoes is easy because they can be planted deep. Some people plant them on their sides too. What this does is cause more roots to grow from the stem to create a (hopefully) better plant.
I planted both cherry tomatoes deep in dirt up to the top leaves. I added cosmos plants, basil and a marigold.
One garden bed has zucchini seeds. I put three seeds in a mound in the center. I will probably keep only the best one. I planted little marigolds and cosmos on one side. The red onion plants were put in a few weeks ago when the dirt was added.
Two cucumber plants are the main items in this bed. Parsley, cosmos and dill are also in this garden. I don’t have much luck with dill and the plants don’t look all that great. More onions line one edge.
Carrots and Beets
This garden has four rows of seeds. Two rows of carrots – which I never have much luck with, and two rows of beets, which I’ve never grown. This is a bit of a trial and error box for me. One little parsley plant was also added and there are onions along one side.
Like the zucchini, I decided to use seeds here and not try to start root vegetables in eggshells. There is no reason to.
Transplanting from Eggshells
I wrote a previous post about growing seeds in eggshells. This year was the first time I attempted this. Some plants did better than others and altogether I believe it was a good thing to do. I was able to keep a close eye on the little plants making sure they had sun and water and could be indoors during the cold.
As far as transplanting goes, I carefully broke most of the eggshell away from the roots and then set the plant into the dirt. The broken shell can stay in the garden, but I wanted to be sure the little roots would be able to spread.
This was pretty easy to do. You can see all the roots on this cucumber – he was ready to be set free!
The Garden is Planted! March 15th
Once all my little seedlings had a new outdoor home, I put up some posts (also bought at Home Depot) and wrapped the whole thing with some mesh I had. I only did this to keep my cats out of the garden! When they see fresh dirt, they think it’s an outdoor litter box.
I draped some Spanish moss, picked up in the yard, all around the mesh so hopefully birds won’t get entangled.
I will take down this mesh fence once the plants get larger and the cats are no longer interested. It’s a good way to keep the raccoons out too, I hope.