Winter is waning and spring is finally on it’s way. If you haven’t already been thinking about what to plant in your garden, it is time. Hurray! I love getting my hands in the dirt and watching those little shoots spring up from the soil. This is one of my most favorite times of year (actually, I say that about the beginning of every season).
Planting seed directly in the ground works well for many of my seasonal vegetables, but there are some plants that benefit from a little head start to ensure they get off on the right foot. In my area, where the growing season is short, growing a few variety of plants from seed is not an option.For instance, tomatoes and peppers would never mature and produce before my typical growing season is over. Starter plants are the only viable way to go.
Purchasing plants at the local nursery is an option, but the cost is high and the variety is limited. Planting seeds indoors saves money and allows me the opportunity to choose different varieties that work better for me. You will find growing plants indoors from seed is not all that difficult and is much more satisfying to see the process from start to finish. I have written an easy tutorial to help get you started. Feel free to contact me with any questions you might have. I love to help.
Equipment you will need:
- Seed tray and inserts Cell Grower Starter Kit With Dome
- Seeds 12 Heirloom Varieties of Vegetable Seeds
- Soilless potting mix Light Warrior Soilless Mix – 1 cu.ft.
- Markers (I use Popsicle sticks with an indelible marker)
- A large box that has been cut down and an old sheet or large piece of plastic to layer the inside of the box to contain the soilless mix when filling the inserts in your seed tray.
- Seedling Heat Mat
- Hydrofarm Grow Light
- Seedling Heat Mat Thermostat
How to start seeds indoors:
- Place seed tray and insert into cut down box that has been lined with a plastic sheet (if using).
- Fill trays lightly with the soilless mix until all cells are completely full. Remove large sticks and pieces that have not completely decomposed from mix.
- Once trays are filled to the top, use an empty insert to lightly compact soilless mix and to form small indentations for the planting of the seeds.
- Pour water into each individual cell to moisten the soilless mix. The water does not seep down as quickly as it would when using potting soil, so be patient. I usually pour the water into each individual cell and then go do something else for a good couple of hours or overnight. Once the soil is visibly darker and moist to the touch you are ready to go. An optional way to prepare your soilless mix is to wet the soil prior to placing in the individual cells. I have tried both ways and find the mix more difficult to work with when it is already moistened, and the soil tends to become too compacted, experiment and see what works best for you.
- Label your markers with the type of seed you will be planting on one side and the date planted on the other side. Place markers in appropriate cells where seeds will be planted. If one whole row will be the same then you can use one marker per row. Keep in mind that the cell trays do come apart from each other and take that into consideration when marking your rows. It is never a bad idea to mark to many. Always a bad idea to not mark enough. This observation comes from experience. It is never any fun trying to figure out if I have a broccoli or cabbage plant. They all tend to look the same when first starting out.
- Once all your cells are properly marked, it is time to plant your seeds in the appropriate cells. I tend to be overly ambitious with the amount of seedlings I start, at is rare that every seed planted will germinate. I will cull the weaker plants, leaving the strongest to be planted. Neighbors and friends can always make use of any surplus I might have. Place 2 to 3 seeds in each individual cell and lightly cover with soilless mix. Rule of thumb here is about 3 times the thickness of your seed.
- Lightly wet the soil after you have covered your seed being very careful not to dislodge the seeds or cause them to float upwards. A spray bottle works wonderfully for this.
- Cover the seed tray with the cover (if you have one) or place your tray into a plastic bag to help retain the moisture in the soilless mix which tends to dry out much faster than potting soil. Place the tray on a heating mat or in a warm place, keeping an eye on your plants soil, and misting when necessary to keep your soilless mix from drying out. For most seeds it is not necessary to place them in the sun until they have begun to sprout.
- Once your seeds begin to sprout remove the cover or bag from your trays and place plants where they will get direct sunlight or under a set of grow lights. When plants are placed under grow lights the light should be only 2 – 4 inches away from the top of the plants to prevent the plant from growing to spindly and to help support a good root system. Grow lights should also be cycled on and off every day to give the plants opportunity to rest, just as they would if they were in the natural sunlight. I normally leave my lights on for 14 hours a day.
From todays post: Resiliency and Strength
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How To Start Seeds Indoors shared with:
Feathers in the Woods: Green Thumb Thursday