Millions of people pore over the seed and garden catalogs that begin to appear every winter. Many feel they have to wait for the spring planting season to even invest in a single packet of seeds or order a tomato plant or two. However, with spring just around the corner, you still have time to start a lot of plants and seeds and turn your garage into a lovely, private plant nursery. Let’s explore just how it can work…
Planning Ahead is Important
Those seed catalogs show up as early as January because it often pays off to plan. To get the heartiest transplants takes time and patience, and so the sooner you can choose the plants you’ll want in your garden, order some seeds and get seed starting supplies together, the better your success.
Take the time to map out the different plants, how long they take, what they need, and don’t forget about companions. This is a way of growing plants side by side that support one another with nutrients, pest control and more. Basil, as an example, looks and tastes great with tomatoes, but also protects it from insects. Cabbages and fennel, though, stunt tomatoes, so don’t plan to plant them side by side, and even keep them away from one another as you are doing seed starting.
Remember too that succession planting is a great way to enjoy more than one big harvest. Do a calendar of seed starting and you automatically have an ongoing array of transplants that can let you harvest well into the fall. Once your plans are made, you can convert an area of the garage into a full-functioning nursery.
Keep in mind that you are not going to keep growing everything in the garage, year-round. It is simply that you will start growing seedlings for a few months and then get everything safely outdoors and in the garden. Plants ideal for seed starting and transplanting include tomatoes, peppers, herbs, cabbages of all kinds, brassicas, eggplants, artichokes and almost any annual flower.
Converting the Garage
To claim the space needed for your nursery, you may need to park the car outdoors. This, as we said, is only for a matter of four to eight weeks, so it should not pose too great a difficulty. The garage should be relatively warm and insulated. Freezing cold spaces just won’t work.
However, even a chillier garage can still do the trick if you invest in seed starting heat mats, a bit of plastic sheeting and the right lights. Even natural light coming in through windows or the garage door’s windows can enhance success. Just be sure there are no major drafts or gusts of frigid air. You will also be growing things up off the floor as this ensures good temperatures.
How can you elevate things? You don’t have to buy big work tables. Some 2x4s, chicken wire and saw horses can be used to construct tables (see the images below). You can then suspend your growing lights and cover the structures with plastic to create lovely little green houses.
Remember that things don’t happen overnight, and it takes time and patience to get it right. Keep an eye on soil temperature and humidity, seeds can be picky, and may even fail to sprout if too dry or too wet. Also, remember to have a warm and well-lit spot for the bigger transplants – maybe set up two growing stations for seed starting and transplants.
Be Sure the Garage is Not a Saboteur
Many gardeners turn their garages into growing stations only to be foiled in their efforts by failing garage doors. Drafts and improper function can be a disaster. If you are worried about the doors being a problem, contact us at 607-687-5126. We will do a free quotation online or send out a service call. We can tell you what is wrong with the door and make a lot of recommendations. We also have an online Design Centre to help you get started right away, and we also have a full image gallery with lots of good ideas.