Sowing the Seeds for a Bright Future

It’s that time of year again, and it’s time to start sowing seeds! Here at Halter Ranch, we are working hard on creating a one-acre Culinary Garden dedicated to providing Chef Paul with fresh, unique, and organic produce for his seasonal menu. Chef Paul and I have been working on sowing a lot of different seeds since last December. These seeds are ones dedicated to sustainability, quality, and education. We aim to set the foundation for a completely sustainable dining experience at Halter Ranch with goals of raising our own animals and growing 80% of the food on our guests’ plates. This is a lofty goal, and we recognize that, but Chef Paul and I feel that it is our responsibility to give our guests the true and authentic “farm to table” experience.

Getting this project started will not be an easy task, but we are all excited for the opportunity to see what we are capable of growing in the garden this year. One of the first things I did when we started this project was build a small greenhouse. This greenhouse is where the first seeds of this season have been sown. Our little greenhouse will produce all the seedlings that we will then transplant into the field. This last week I sowed the following seeds in the greenhouse; cauliflower, chamomile, lettuce, basil, spring raab, kohlrabi, calendula, beets, and several cut flower varieties.

I picked these vegetables and flowers because they are frost tolerant plants. Typically, Halter Ranch’s last frost of the season is somewhere around May 1st, so this means we focus on planting crops that are able to withstand the potential threat of frost. For some plants, frost damages or kills them. These plants are referred to as tender. Some tender plants include tomatoes, marigolds, summer squash, and peppers, to name a few. We will wait to sow those seeds when all threats of frost are gone!

When sowing seeds, I always refer to the recommended planting directions on the seed packet. The packet will usually tell me how deep I should sow each seed and if it is recommended to start the seed indoors or direct sow into the ground. This information is helpful and can help you achieve the best germination when planting your seeds.

When sowing seeds in the greenhouse, I use various plug cell trays ranging from 50 cells per tray to 128 cells per tray. Once I pick out the tray I will use, I will fill the tray with organic potting mix (I use the Blue Ribbon Blend made by G&B Organics). I make sure I fill all the cells to the top with potting mix and then take another tray and compact the potting mix by tamping it down with that other tray. Making sure you compact that potting soil in each cell will be essential when it comes down to transplanting your seedling in a couple of weeks. If you do not compact that soil in the cells, the transplants will be crumbly or too loose when you try to plant them in the field. If this happens and the seedlings roots can get too disturbed, and your seedling you worked so hard to produce could experience transplant shock or even die. The potting mix should be about a centimeter or less from the top of the tray and I can now sow my seeds!

Depending on what I am planting, I will usually sow about 2-4 seeds per cell to ensure that there is germination in that cell of the tray. If all the seeds germinate in that cell, I will thin the plant down to the two healthiest seedlings in that particular cell. After I place seeds in each cell, I will cover each seed with the appropriate amount of soil. Again, I will take another tray and tamp down the soil to compact it in each cell. This last step is essential and will ensure that there is proper seed and soil contact for good germination.

The last step is to water, water, water (but not too much)! I make sure I am keeping the seedling trays moist always while I am trying to get the seeds to germinate. Unfortunately, if you water too much and the soil appears to be soggy, you risk having your seeds rot and never germinating. It’s definitely frustrating when this happens, but you can always try again!

Every seed we sow, both literally and metaphorically, are examples that Halter Ranch honors our commitment to sustainability.

Sometimes sowing those first seeds of the season can be intimidating, but once I see that first plant pop up I can’t help but feel inspired and excited for what is to come. Every seed we sow, both literally and metaphorically, are examples that Halter Ranch honors our commitment to sustainability. We aim to never use any pesticides, to educate our guests on the importance of sustainable agriculture, and to tackle food waste as much as possible. I can’t wait to share my next update with you all and let you know how the seeds we’ve sown are blossoming.

Date Published: March 01, 2021

Category: Blog

 Haley Trengove

Haley Trengove

Haley Trengove, Estate Culinary Farmer