The beginning of spring is a good time to start raising seeds. While in many parts of Australia the ground may be too cold to plant seeds directly into the garden, raising seedlings in trays gives your seeds a good start for when the weather does warm up.
Why not just buy a bunch of seedlings?
By raising your own seeds you can purchase heirloom seeds which are not artificially hybridised or genetically modified, give better variety and protect biodiversity, or you can collect and plant your own seeds from previous seasons, saving you money.
An easy way to raise seeds is in old toilet rolls (pictured). The toilet rolls can be planted directly into the ground, preventing root damage when transplanting. The rolls will decompose naturally in the garden. To protect them from the cold, place an upturned clear container or plastic bag over the top.
The thing with raising your own seedlings is that they need some extra love and care (or at least more love and care than my poor neglected garden gets). It can be easy to forget or get lazy about watering when things get busy. That’s where permaculture zoning comes in.
Permaculture uses a system of zones to divide your space according to use and service. Zone one represents the area closest to the house or more correctly, the area that has the most frequent access. Because it’s an area you access frequently, it’s a great place to put things like seedlings that need extra attention or herbs (for quick access when you’re cooking).
We only have a small courtyard, so it could be argued that all our space is zone one – it’s only a couple of metres from our back door to our fence (although if you met some of our neighbours you would agree that we have zone five – the wilderness zone – things can get pretty wild over the back fence).
But I would argue that even in a small courtyard there are parts that I visit more often than others – the few steps between the laundry door and the clothesline in particular.
While our glass sliding door is closer to the living area, I tend to take the long way out to the yard through the laundry. It makes sense then, not to put seedlings near the glass door, but put them on the laundry windowsill where I pass them several times a day (and also right near the tap and laundry tub, incidentally, for easy watering).
Even when the garden doesn’t get a water (I’ve found delegating the job to the little fella a win win situation), the seedlings get the attention they need.
What’s the takeaway?
Now is the time to start raising some seedlings from seeds to start your spring garden. Before you do, think about your outdoor space and the areas you frequent the most. It might be the path to the garage, the path to the Otto bin or like me, near the clothes line.
Those high traffic areas (particularly sunny, protected ones) are where you want to start your seedlings. Leave a watering can near by and you can have a whole heap of plants ready for the garden with minimum effort.