10 Tips for Starting Seeds for Your Garden this spring
(Last updated October 30th, 2016)
We all heard the saying “You reap what you sow”, this rings true of gardening more then anything so every spring we set out to sow our seeds with a hope that we will harvest our beautiful veggies or admire our blooming flower gardens with our hard effort paying off in the summer. Seed gets nurtured in healthy organic soil, hence the Hindi word translation for seed “bija” which translates literally as “containment of life”.
I’m a big fan of starting seeds and not going to just buy plants at the corner store. Some nurseries are better then others as many times I have ended up with the wrong peppers as the tags have been mixed up or ended up with sickly or weak plants. What are the main advantages to start your own seeds? The reasons are many, here are a few:
- A wider range of varieties available as seeds. Seed catalogs are full of wonderful varieties.
- The seeds are somewhat guaranteed to be non GMO and disease free of chemicals.
- Better control of time, you can time the plants to be ready for when yo u want to plant them in your garden
To succeed with seeds we need to follow a few simple rules:
- Clean and disinfect all of your previous year used pots, flats, or trays.
or just use a container that is at least 2 inches deep to start your seeds in as long as it has holes for drainage.
- Read/follow the instructions on your seed packets. They have a wealth of information —germination temperature, light requirements, depth to sow, and when to sow. Timing is everything. Count backwards from YOUR frost-free date the required number of weeks stated on the package to have your plants ready at just the right time.
- Make sure you only use soil mix designed for seed starting. I use a compost-based seedling mix with excellent results. Don’t just use regular potting soil as it might be too heavy for seedlings.
- Keep track of your plants and label and tag everything! Many little seedlings look alike. I use Popsicle wood sticks and a coloring system. Download our free
- Let there be LIGHT and keep soil warm! Place the seedlings near bright light for most of the day—greenhouse or south-facing windows. Other alternatives try grow light or fluorescent bulbs. Hang lights so they can be adjusted to keep them 4 inches above the plants as they grow.
- Transplant seedlings into individual pots after you see leaves.
- Handle the little plants with care and replant them deeper—up to their seed leaves. The little llants have delicate root systems easily damaged in transplants.
- Fertilize and feed the plants weekly with a water-soluble, organic fertilizer. I use fish emulsions by pureeing sardines/kelp into water.
- Create artificial wind by ‘stroking’ your plants or set up a fan to gently blow on them. Studies show that plants grown in a still environment are weaker than those subjected to a gentle breeze.
- Harden off your transplants by gradually exposing them to the outside before planting them out.