Small-Space Seed Starting Part 1.5: What Do I Do Once Seeds Have Sprouted?

*This post is Part 1.5 of a series that will take you from the very beginnings of starting seeds in a small space, such as a home, apartment, or backyard greenhouse, all the way through to getting your young plants ready to plant outside. See the other posts in this series for a complete guide on how to start and grow seeds in the small space of a home or apartment (useful for small-scale greenhouse growing, too!)

There is a bit of an interim step between the germination stage and the potting up step of this small-space seed-starting method. The timing of this step will be different for different types of vegetables and flowers, because they all have their own internal clocks; their individual timelines to germination.

Germination Begins

About a week after planting you will see the earliest-germinating seeds start to pop above the surface. It starts with one or two and then over the next couple of days quickly becomes a pretty virulent pot of popping seedlings. Sometimes, given the high density of seed in the pot with this method, you will even see the mass of seedlings lifting up an entire layer of dirt, looking like they are wearing something of a seedling cap.

young tomato seedlings

When you only have one or two seeds popping, you can continue on as you are, monitoring moisture and keeping them in the dark. They’ll look a little anemic and yellow at this point, but that’s okay. These just-germinating seedlings don’t need to photosynthesize yet, and you’ll get a better overall yield by keeping them under germination conditions for another day or three.

*The one exception to this rule is things like cucumbers and squash—those larger seeds which we discussed starting preferably in individual peat or paper pots, that will not be potted up. For those seedlings, remove them from the dark and put them in a bright space as soon as you see them break the surface of the soil.

peaking squash seed, newly germinated

These seeds grow very quickly and if left in a dark space for even a day longer than necessary, will grow a long, leggy, weak stem.

Since you are not potting these seedlings into new pots, you will not be able to correct this in the transplanting. By putting them to the light as early as possible, you will prevent this legginess and weakness.

Show Them the Light

When you have several seedlings that have emerged—something that looks to you like most of the seed has begun to germinate and break through—you can now move the seeds out of their makeshift germination “chamber.”

germinated eggplant seedlings

Take only the germination pots with plenty of emerged and emerging seedlings and bring them out of the dark. Place them in a space with plenty of light and warmth. If you have your grow lights already in place, you can set your germinated pots under them—just don’t place the light too close to the pots, as these young seedlings can still easily dry out and can easily burn if the light is too hot. If your lights are not set up yet, place them in a bright space or on a sunny windowsill. Just take care that the light is not too bright or too hot, which again, could cause the tiny plants to dry out and burn.

small seedlings germinating

Though soon enough the right light will be important for strong stems and good growth, at the early in-between stage a bright place that is maybe a little less than optimal in the light department is okay.

The subsequent “potting up” step will correct a lot of early issues anyway, and your plant is not really making its own food yet, so its needs are less.

Simply moving them into a well-lit room will be enough for the time being.

Within a week you will want the seeds under grow lights, but this gives you a bit of a breather while the seedlings are slow-growing to get the lights set up and let the just-germinated seedlings mature for the next step, potting up into individual plant cells or pots.

Keep Germinated Seeds Warm, Wet, and Draft-Free

Really, the heading says it all. To maintain your young seedlings at this stage, all they really need is for you to maintain them in a bright, warm, space protected from drafts, and to keep their soil wet—but not too wet!

As before, soil should be kept moist and should not be allowed to dry out. Seedlings will die off quickly if their soil is allowed to become dry. Bottom-watering is still best, and you should still only water until the top of the soil just darkens with moisture. The seedlings will tolerate over-watering better than under-watering, but they still will not tolerate over-watering that well. Over-watering is a prime factor in rotting and disease. Do not let the soil get so wet that the pot is sopping or dripping.




In terms of “warm,” comfortable room temperature, perhaps a little on the warmer side of things, will be enough to maintain your seedlings until it is time to pot them up. Something above 65F and in the range of 65-75F is a good, comfortable temperature for a seedling—about the same temperatures that you kept them at for germinating and sprouting. You do not necessarily need to increase the temperature of your home to achieve this. Selecting a spot closer to a heat source (but away from direct-blowing hot heat) will be enough to increase the seedlings’ climate those few degrees.

Just A Little Longer Until Potting Up

seedlings potted up and ready to grow

This interim stage will only last for about a week or two, and then it will be time to move on to the next stage, when it will be time to split these little seedlings into individual pots or cells of a cell pack to live on their own.

This is where it starts to get exciting—where you’ll start to really see these sprouts as plants with promise, well on their way to gaining size and stature, ready for planting out in your garden in another month or so.

Be sure to subscribe and follow along so that you don’t miss a post of this series. Together, we’ll move through this process of small-space seed starting. You’ll be amazed at just how much you can grow in even the most limited of space!

Missed a post?

Find Part 1 of Small Space Seed Starting Here

Find Seed-Starting Questions and Answers Here

Can’t Buy it? Bake it!

Easy Homemade Bread & Baking Resources

Not surprisingly, during this time of stocking up (and let’s be honest, flat-out panic buying), many of the items we take for granted are just not available on store shelves. Chief among them, bread…and bread is an important staple for many, most especially when the kids are all home and looking for lunches!

If you can bake your own bread, though, that dearth is less of an issue for you. And this looks like a good time to revive or to learn a new old trick or two, to better situate yourself to deal with not only this crisis, but future impacts that might come along.

Baking and Bread Recipes Designed for Modern Life & Times

easy standmixer bread, KitchenAid bread recipe

The goal of my site and my published works has always been to bring self-sustaining knowledge, tips, tricks, and skills, back to the masses; to modify recipes that make it possible for people to make more of their own, cleaner, better, tastier foods from scratch.

I acknowledge that this isn’t always easy when we are in the throes of our “normal” busy day to day lives. So, I’ve always tried to develop helpful posts and books with that in mind, and find the recipes and methods that fit a little more easily into daily life. I’ve had excellent feedback from a number of readers and users saying that they have found these resources to be exactly that—helpful, easier, less-intimidating, and more manageable for today’s busy home cooks.

Judging from the scarcity of flour and basic baking supplies in the stores, people are doing exactly that—becoming a little more self-sufficient, depending more on themselves, and getting lined up to at least be able to bake their own bread and foods for a bit. It’s an excellent skill for the everyday, but one thing we are also learning is that learning and honing a few of these skills now during our time of need is proving an excellent, in fact at times imperative, skill to have in your repertoire. Knowledge can never be lost, and is always worth having, now and in the future—these crazy days prove you never know when you might need to be a little more prepared toward self-sufficiency.

Bake-Your-Own Resources for Beginners to Experienced Bread Bakers

Following is a compiled list of my books and other resources that can help you fill the needs of your pantry while the shelves are bare (and maybe for a long time after!):

*All books are available through Amazon in both Paperback and for instant download via Kindle/Kindle Reader Apps.

Daily Homemade Bread easier, faster homemade bread

your stand mixer (think, KitchenAid® mixer breads). It uses instant/rapid rise yeast to speed and streamline the process.

No pan? No problem! Choose the French or Italian breads that only require a simple baking sheet!

no-knead bread recipes, bake no-knead bread

—so if your yeast supply is getting low, take a look at these recipes! No-Knead bread recipes are also excellent time savers, as the “hands-on” time is virtually nil (and the science of it is kind of fun, too). You’ll find bagels, rolls, and sweet treats, too.

mason jar baking mixes, prep baking mixes

The measuring and proportioning involved in making these mixes is a great project to do with kids—and one that extends learning in a practical way, too!

Even if you don’t want to take the time to make a lot of mixes ahead, the batches themselves make good, easy baking recipes with normal, minimal ingredients.

  • Sourdough Starter Recipe (Levain): Yeast is one of those somewhat scarce ingredients on the grocery stores lately—probably because they don’t stock as much as they used to, anyway, so it can sell out quick with just a few shoppers. Sourdough bread doesn’t need yeast, though. And you don’t need yeast to make a sourdough starter! This is a traditional, healthy bread (actually better tolerated by a lot of people because of the breakdown of the process), often used by frugal mothers and grandmothers and by rural-dwellers who didn’t rely on frequent trips to the corner store—they simply kept a starter culture going in the kitchen instead.

    And yes, you will find some easy sourdough bread recipes in the Quick-Time Homemade Bread book above!  (*Note: Though you do not need yeast to make a sourdough starter or to make sourdough bread, if you have a pinch to spare you can throw it in to make the process go a little faster.)

  • Beer Bread Recipe (plus make-your-own self-rising flour link): Beer bread is technically a quick-bread, but easier and unlike any other you’ve ever eaten.
easy beer bread recipe, no yeast necessary

It’s a quick bread a bit more like regular sandwich bread that is great to have with butter, as a dinner side, or with cheese, and it works well for sandwiches, too.

This recipe could be a real life-saver for those of you who are out of bread and out of time!




Math, Science, Life Skills, Learning…Baking Has a Lot of Educational & Life Value to Offer!

Let’s not forget—baking is actually a very valuable learning exercise that includes a lot of hands-on math and science, reading, and more. For many of you battling the boredom and looking for meaningful, useful ways to muddle through these awkward pseudo-homeschooling times, wrapping in some bread-making and baking activities is truly double-duty!

I hope you find these resources very useful. All are available via Amazon in paperback and for immediate download for Kindle and Kindle e-reader apps; just follow the above links.

Stay safe, take heart, and BE WELL!!




*This post contains affiliate links to helpful books and products, at no additional cost to the reader/purchaser. This will take you to secure login and purchasing via your personal Amazon account. NO personal information is shared with this website from Amazon. Links such as these help to support and maintain this website. Thank you for clicking through to purchase these products!

Clean Bread for Busy People

No-Knead Bread is the Easy Solution for Preservative-Free Homemade Bread

I’m actually not sure why no-knead bread is just now becoming trendy in clean home-baking. It is the absolute simplest bread to make. It requires the most minimal of ingredients. It takes almost NONE of your precious, limited time. No-knead bread is clean and preservative-free, and a myriad of recipes means that you can easily choose one to fit your health, diet, or culinary goals.

no knead bread recipe

Really. There’s just no downside to no-knead bread.

For busy people today (and who isn’t!?), no-knead bread is THE solution to problem of being able to put home-made, quality, reliable, knowable goodness on the table, with a side of holy delicious and nostalgia!

No-Knead Bread: The Time It Takes

So, what is it that maybe scares people from making cleaner, better no-knead breads at home?

If one had to guess, you could suppose it’s that it takes a long time to make no-knead bread. Hours, in fact. OVERNIGHT, in fact. Or rather, at least 6 to 8 to 12 and maybe even 18 hours!

no knead bread rising

Who in the world has that time today!?

We all do. Because here’s the thing. The “time” it “takes” to bake no-knead bread is not hands-on time at all. It’s almost completely in rising—a slow, sourdough-like rise time (without the hassle of maintaining a sourdough starter) with a moist, soft sponge, that pretty much doesn’t even get your hands dirty. You’re literally only talking maybe—MAYBE—5 minutes of measuring and mixing (if you drag it out), and then covering the bowl, forgetting about until the next morning, or the next afternoon, or whenever you have the time, then a quick dump-and-shape-up with a little more rising while the oven heats up, and around 45 minutes of baking.

All told, you’re looking at a maximum of 15 minutes of hands-on “labor.” The rest of the time, you could be soaking in the bath, working, running your kids around endlessly, or reading a book for all the bread cares. You see where I’m going with this. No-knead bread doesn’t need us, either.

So,

How Long Does It Take to Bake No-Knead Bread?

Here’s a general overview of how long it takes to make no-knead bread (for the typical no-knead bread recipe; the process itself doesn’t vary that much between recipes for no-knead bread):

no knead bread with elderberry jelly
  • Dough preparation: 5 minutes (measuring, mixing)
  • Rising/proofing time: minimum 6 hours, 8-12 recommended, can go as long as 18-24 as life dictates
  • Baking prep (turning out dough, shaping loaf): 5 minutes (maybe?)
  • Final rising (mostly while oven and Dutch oven or baking vessel preheats): 45 minutes
  • Baking time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: average 9 hours, 45 minutes
  • Total ACTIVE (read: busy, hands-on) time: 10-15 minutes

A Bare Minimum of Ingredients

The time-factor is one of the biggest reasons to bake no-knead bread.

The others? TASTE and homemade goodness, clean PRESERVATIVE-FREE bread, INGREDIENT CONTROL, and ease-of-use (you really don’t need to be a bread baker, or much of a cook at all, to make this bread; basic kitchen skills required—an excellent bread for beginners!).

So,

What Ingredients are in No-Knead Bread?

You’ll probably be floored when you see the list of ingredients for the typical no-knead bread. They include:

  • Flour
  • Water
  • Salt
  • Yeast (about ¼ teaspoon)

Seriously. That is all.

chocoalte chunk cherry almond no knead bread recipe

Now sure, there are no-knead bread recipes with more ingredients. If you’re looking for a more savory or flavored no-knead bread, that’s an option, too. You might find one like a Cherry, Nut, & Chocolate no-knead bread recipe; perhaps a Wheat no-knead bread recipe; you could make a multi-grain no-knead bread; or a Garlic and Herb no-knead bread recipe might be your choice. But even with no-knead breads as delicious- and complicated-sounding as these, the process, and therefore the time involved, remains largely unchanged. You’re talking about a little more preparation and a little more measuring. A few measly more minutes. The results, however, are anything but measly. They’re amazing, quite frankly.

Time-Saving, Clean, Preservative-Free No-Knead Bread Recipes

Now that you’re a little more comfortable with taking on these easy, clean, delicious (so delicious), crusty, chewy, European-style no-knead breads, all that’s left is to find some good recipes to get started.

In Quick-Time Homemade Bread and Pastries, you’ll find plenty. Ten, to be exact. From the basic Dutch oven no-knead bread recipe to the savories with herbs, cheeses, and garlic, to the sweet like the aforementioned Chunky Chocolate Cherry Almond no-knead bread recipe, you’ll find all the bases covered, with plenty to enjoy (and impress!).

easy no-knead bread recipes

So buy the book (you can get it for Kindle or in paperback), bake the bread, and be sure to come back here and share your experience (and your no-knead bread pictures, too!).

Happy Baking & Enjoy!

*This post contains affiliate links to helpful books and products, at no additional cost to the reader/purchaser. This will take you to secure login and purchasing via your personal Amazon account. NO personal information is shared with this website from Amazon. Links such as these help to support and maintain this website. Thank you for clicking through to purchase these products!

Making Homesteading Work: Budgeting and Maximizing Food Usage

Making homesteading work in these modern times can be a challenge. Even keeping up with just the minimum of home and property bills requires a sizable income, at least until you own your property outright. For many households (perhaps most) that translates into dual income necessity, or at least a supplemental secondary part-time income. This can make homesteading and being self-sufficient a challenge; a challenge that many give up Happy Homesteadon, and understandably so. Life today is harried, busy, stressful, and expensive.

So does that mean that reaching your homesteading and self sufficiency goals is beyond you? Certainly not. But it does require some thought and planning. It requires give-and-take (but all good things do, don’t they?) and it requires finding ways to cut money from a typical modern household budget to accommodate for either the cost of homesteading and animal care or the cost of “lost” income.

Doing the Income Dance

To give you an example, in our household my husband runs his own logging business and I help out on the book-keeping end of that. I also work from home part time as a freelance writer. Largely, though, we rely upon my husband’s income so as to free up my time for home and homesteading. My work and income is kind of peaks and valleys, intentionally so, and therefore is not as reliable. I’ve limited client commitments and am working more towards independent publishing and blogging, which gives me the ability to work more during “off peak” garden and homesteading seasons and reduce or even eliminate my workload during those times of year when the gardens, food preparation, and preserving requires more of my time and attention.

In essence what we are doing to make homesteading work here is in part “sacrificing” some of the more modern lifestyle and stuff (but not all by any means) and working to strike a balance in the budget that works. The more we produce here the lower our food bills outside of the homestead, but we are not able to completely wipe them out. In addition, proper animal care does require us to maintain a feed budget. We moderate that the best we can (more on that another day) but it still remains a line item in the bottom line.

Considering the Costs

One of the things we do do to find and maintain this lifestyle-budget balance is to consider the costs of a typical grocery budget and then match that against what I am able to produce or provide by trading “working” (as in, paid work) time for home provision and production time. It turns out that I can actually break even or perhaps even do better by not working outside the home. Using USFDA figures, a modest estimate of what a family of four can expect to pay for a moderate food expense is over $1,000 per month for a couple and two children in the 6 to 11 age range. Now consider that I have 2 children older than this (our range is more like 8-14) and that we are a family of six, not four. Using the formula provided by the FDA and calculating out the cost to feed a family of our size, gender, and age make-up, the average moderate food expense for us is estimated at a whopping $1511.36 per month!

So for us it’s easy to place a monetary value on my not working just by looking at what our grocery cost would be if I were not able to be here and not able to produce the volume of food that I/we do. Even considering feed costs and animal upkeep, we’re not spending anywhere near $1500 per month. And then to that we could start adding in all the other factors…for example, the quality of the food, the health and well-being benefits of not pickling ourselves in preservatives all the time, the body benefits of the activity of animal care, not having the expense of vehicle upkeep, gas, etc. that comes from commuting, not incurring daycare costs for after-hours or vacation and sick days, and on and on. So…

Where am I going With This?

Yes, that's a lot of tomatoes. But you can make them pay in more ways than you'd think!

Yes, that’s a lot of tomatoes. But you can make them pay in more ways than you’d think!

Well honestly when I started out this morning I intended to map out all the ways that I utilize the milk supply from our backyard Jersey cow to justify her expense and see how we make her pay us back. Clearly I’ve veered from that a little, so we’ll get into that topic in an upcoming post.

I guess for today, then, we’ll just take this post as a primer for that conversation and others, the basic theme of which is finding the ways to make a homesteading and self-sufficient lifestyle pay and the ways to incorporate that with living in today’s modern society, all things considered. If there is one thing to take away for today, it’s that there really is a real, not imagined, monetary trade-off to homesteading and if properly planned and managed you can actually make the rewarding lifestyle you have chosen, or are thinking about choosing, pay.

For me personally, given my role here in our household, that falls to utilizing the food we produce as best I can to cover as many budget-bases with it as best I can. So, as mentioned, as we progress I’ll start listing and laying out the varied ways I’ve found to maximize that food use. By no means will my lists be the be-all and end-all, but they will be (good, I hope) examples of what you can get out of a basic homestead and how doing that makes the whole thing feasible.