Location, Location, Location

Frugality often necessitates using the resources at hand, and doing our best wherever we are.  So I'm swallowing my pride as I try to learn from last year's mistakes at seed starting and try to justify the $80 to $100 I'm about to spend on a warming mat for tomatoes and sweet peppers.  When I mentioned a grow light as well, my husband asked if that isn't why he bought that mini-greenhouse for me, so we could get the seedlings out into the sun sooner.  He's right, and I won't be buying a light.  Reality is also sinking in as I realize that the windows with southern exposure that the seedlings need is in my "sewing" room, not the north-facing kitchen bay area that I tried using last year.

Seed Curator Monica Williams with Sow True Seed reassured me that I can start the tomatoes and peppers on my own, although they need "good south-facing light," and it would really be better to have artificial light for the delicate plants.  I hope not to disappoint Monica, but my husband was so sweet to buy the mini-greenhouse, so I'll try to make that work.  She highly recommended the mat since I'm determined to start the plants from seed, so we'll try that.

Like the practical seed curator she is, Williams reminded me to look up my Plant Hardiness Zone on the USDA map.  In our little patch of East Tennessee, we're in either 7a or 7b.  As Sustainahillbilly points out at AppalachianFeet.com , some zones have recently changed according to the official map, and many gardeners suspect the realities of climate change are responsible for it.  So, even if we knew our hardiness zone, it might be time to recheck it. 

On the subject of location, North Carolina Extension Specialist Elizabeth Ayers reminds everyone to make sure vegetable gardens will have at least eight hours of direct sunlight each day.  If we have only about six hours of sun, she says to stick with crops like leafy greens and root crops that don't have to produce fruit.

So, location indoors affects seed starting, and location outdoors affects the rest of the growing season.  Knowing my zone and the garden spot's relationship to the sun should help ensure the best growing conditions.

Thanks to Sow True Seed for providing the seeds for our family's garden this spring.

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