Gardening in Virginia – Half-Baked Seed Starting

With snow(!) in the forecast today, I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of Old Man Winter just yet. But signs of life are springing up all over the yard. My spring bulbs have sprouted, the daffodils and hydrangeas are budding out and the chives are up, and being nibbled on by some wascally wabbit.

Most surprisingly, the garlic has gone from zero to long shoots seemingly overnight! Bare soil one day, bursting with new growth the next. Amazing!

The herb garden is in need of a good weeding session and some fresh mulch.

The experimental deer fence has kept the deer out of the herb garden for about 8 months now, so I’m calling it a resounding success. I think I’ll string the entire yard with fishing line!

Can you believe that we’ve been able to snip fresh parsley all winter long? What a hardy plant!

Years ago, my sister Sarah shared her method for germinating seeds and I’ve used it successfully a few times since then. I’m trying it out again this year. I don’t have grow lights, warming mats and big, sunny south-facing windows for seed starting. But I do have an electric oven.

Pro tip: If you are planting multiple varieties in the same tray, plant seeds that take roughly the same length of time to germinate.

Here’s how this works:

Asparagus seeds soaking in water for 24 hours.

Fill trays with seed starting mix and plant seeds according to the package directions. Lightly moisten the soil, and pop the clear plastic covers on. Put a big ol’ note over your oven controls that says “DON’T TURN THE OVEN ON!”

Place the trays in the oven and turn on the oven light. Check on your seeds everyday and mist the soil with water as needed. You should soon see signs of life. Once the seedlings have sprouted, leave the oven light on and prop the door open for a few days. Next, move the trays to a bright, warm spot in your home and continue caring for them until they have grown enough to harden off outdoors or transplant into the garden.

I’m pleased with how this is working so far. I have my first lavender seedling after just 36 hours in the oven.

Happy planting!
Can you feel it? Spring is on the way!

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3 thoughts on “Gardening in Virginia – Half-Baked Seed Starting

  1. Alice Kleinschmidt

    Alright. I’m starting seeds today using the oven method. Wish me luck! Not sure how that is going to work out in my household of five … there will definitely be a note on the oven controls! 😀

    I started two varieties of onions, Italian parsley and rosemary in a sunny window three weeks ago. They are struggling along. I’ll be interested to see what kind of results I get in the oven!


    1. Keep me posted! I was about to give up on my asparagus after two weeks in the oven, but they finally sprouted. Is your oven’s pilot light on all the time? I have no experience with gas ovens, but I’ve read it works just as well.


  2. Pingback: Gardening Journal – Cold Stratification Update and Starting Lavender from Seed | Arthurized Home

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