I discovered something last night, something that completely blew my mind: A hopefully viable alternative to starting seeds inside.
It's called Winter Sowing. And yes, I'm probably a little late in the game (although we're still technically in winter- and we're still getting random snow mixed with our rain).
Winter sowing, at least from what I can gather, is where you plant your seeds outside in a small, protected receptacle which acts as a miniature green house. You can use milk cartons, pop bottles, or in my case, spinach containers. You fill them with soil, add your seeds, cover them, and leave them outside. They'll grow up protected from vermin, protected from serious weather conditions, and they won't require hardening off. Which is exactly the problem I had with my seedlings last year.
I've been hanging onto these spinach containers for ages, as they looked useful, but I had no idea what they'd be good for. The husband HATES it when I do this (I know he's secretly videotaping my behavior and sending it to the TV show Hoarders), but thankfully we have a giant shed to store such treasures in.
So I drilled some holes (a bunch in the bottom and some on the top), filled with soil, watered it, and added my seeds.
The first seeds I planted were my beloved, faithful, ever lovely Stupice tomato. I could write sonnets about this tomato. Seriously. It's that good.
I popped the lids back on, marked on the top what seeds I had planted, including the quantity and the date.
And then I put them outside.
I planted a bunch of other things as well; Cheyenne Bush pumpkins, Amish Salad cherry tomatoes, Ronde Di Nice summer squash, Bushy cucumber, and even seeds from my favorite pumpkin of all time, Butt Pumpkin. Yes, I know, I'm 12, but that pumpkin brought us so much joy and hilarity that I wanted to give it a chance to live on.
After they sprout and get their true leaves, I'll select the best ones and pot them in larger containers. Hopefully it'll work.
For more information regarding winter sowing, check out WinterSown.org.