We all know that weather is unpredictable, and hoping to enjoy a gorgeous garden full of flowers and vegetables can feel like a gamble.
However, you don’t have to wait for ideal weather or annual dates promising there will be no more heavy frosts if you have a garage. This is because you can start your seeds indoors, even as the snows are still piled up. The result? You get gorgeous, sturdy transplants ready for the right moment to make their way outdoors and into the garden outside.
The Need to Preplan
A good garden is the result of planning and organization long before the growing season begins. If you are aiming at harvesting delicious vegetables, fruits and even herbs and flowers, you have to get a bit of a head start on the season. Though the official "frost free" and formal planting dates for the many different garden plants vary from region and even from species, the simple truth is that most can benefit from an earlier start indoors.
Naturally, that means planning. You need to know which seeds or cuttings can be started ahead of time, when is the best time to get things started, and even what sort of steps are required. The good news is that your garage gives you an enormous space in which to grow and start plans in staggered stages, ensuring everything is ready at the right moment.
You won’t be growing things indoors year‑round, remember. It is simply that you are giving them good roots and sturdy plants to ensure a fantastic harvest. What sort of plants can you consider? The top veggies to start early are onions, tomatoes, peppers, the brassicas like broccoli and Brussels sprouts, cabbages, herbs of almost any kind, and any annual flowers.
The Set Up
Of course, you need to begin by choosing the plants, but also by mapping out where and how you will tackle the work.
For most, it may mean parking outdoors for the remainder of the season. The good news is that is usually no more than a few weeks’ time.
Once the car is gone, you have an immense area to setup your growing tables, lights, heating mats and more. Light and warmth are the keys to seed starting, so you do need to elevate the seed trays from the cold floor (and this makes it much easier to work with the plants, too). You can still use this method if your garage is on the cool side (but not if it is entirely unheated and/or uninsulated) with the use of heating mats designed for seed starting. A great and affordable setup is going to use any natural light to the fullest, and can be built of simple sawhorses, 2 x 4s and plywood. Lay out the plants on the heat mats or table tops, set up the lighting and you can begin.
To be sure you are ready, you’ll want the following supplies:
- The trays or pots for the seed starting mixture and seeds plus larger containers if you will transplant
- Potting soil is essential to success as you will probably transplant younger seedlings from seed starting trays to pots and then to the garden
- Water vessels, especial a mister or spray bottle for the delicate seedlings
- Plastic sheeting to drape around plants and keep humidity and temperatures steady
- Plastic or wooden markers to identify what is in each tray or pot
- Lighting should include fluorescent fixtures (48″ long) that can use T-8 bulbs (grow lights are best). There are some halogen and/or incandescent options.
- Timer for the lights
Get Ready for Spring!
After setting up your tables and trays, it is just up to you to tend to the plants and do what you can to make it a success. Be patient and consider a detailed schedule. Also, remember to try companion planting to ensure good success, as the plants support one another. For instance, tomatoes love basil, and though it is because they taste good together, the basil also repels unwanted insects. On the other hand, brassicas and cabbages my stunt the growth of tomatoes. When doing planting, choose beneficial plants and those that work well together when transplanted outdoors in the spring.
Consider the Garage Door
Of course, success also depends on the garage and the door. If your garage door is out of date, not well insulated or working improperly, contact us at 717-767-1419. We’ll gladly do a free quotation by email or for a service call. We are happy to visit your home and see just what is going on with the garage door, too. Get prepared for a visit by also looking at the new door options in our online Design Centre or find inspiration in our image gallery.